The 10 Steps of a University Reading

The one thing I miss about high school (and I really don’t miss high school that much) was the first few days of classes. There was never really too much work that had to be done. It was mostly a brief intro to the class and then an intense get to know you session. I bet you’ve filled out one of those ‘about me’ sheets before—where your teacher asked what your favourite TV show was (Dexter), one person you could meet, dead or alive (James Dean), or even if you had a pet (Nope, but I do have a brother!). Sometimes the first classes were interrupted by students coming in and telling you about the open positions on student council, or an announcement from the VP (not ever the principle) welcoming everyone back to school. In other words, the first few days of classes in high school were pointless. And I loved that!

In University however, it’s not quite the same. While the prof usually spends some (too much) time covering the course syllabus, especially when you’re in first year, it doesn’t end there. If your lecture’s scheduled for 3 hours or a lab 6, don’t plan to see that movie with Bobby when you’re let out early—because you won’t be. Now bless the profs, they’re doing their jobs; getting straight to the material, making sure that they’ve used all the time they had. But after coming back from any sort of reading week or winter break, my brain is often still not in school mode and the idea of learning is foreign to me.

So when I leave my first lectures with readings, I know I have to get them done. I have to prepare myself for next class and hope to death my brain doesn’t continue as putty. But getting through the reading isn’t the easiest. It goes a little something like this:

1. Determination


It always starts the same way: you take out your textbook, your notebook, prepare the highlighters and pens. You even make a fresh cup of tea or stop at Starbucks for some coffee. You’re officially ready to dominate.

2. Final Social Media Check

Now right before you start, you decide to quickly check Facebook. Just once. I mean, after this one fast homepage scroll you’re going to be reading for the rest of the night, right? Wrong.

This one minute scroll turns into not only a Facebook check, but a  Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Grindr or Tinder check. You check all of your social media apps, sending your last tweet. I mean this is the end guys. Gotta get those final words out.

Reading, or studying in general, also does this weird thing where you start caring about what Timmy wrote on Janey’s wall. You’ll probably even screen cap it and send it to your best friend: “OMG ARE THEY DATING?!!?!” you excitedly type into your iPhone. Anything is better than a few chapters written about Plato.

3. Re-read Same Line 5 Times


Once you finally get started, your brain can’t stop thinking. You think of everything from when your next shift at work is, to what you’re going to wear to your next sociology lecture—the one where that cute guy asked you the time. With the build up of thought, you find yourself reading the same line over and over again. Basically, it’s been almost an hour & you’re getting absolutely nowhere with this reading.

4. Look Something Up

Okay, you’re reading! You’re actually doing it. But WTF does that word mean? You’ve never seen that before. So this is where you bring up Google and figure it out. Oh, that makes a lot more sense. You scribble it into the margin of your textbook & think “damn, I’m so studious.”

Study Definition

5. Reward Yourself With A Snack

Okay, you got through like 10 pages. That deserves a reward. Are you going to get a caramel flan latte from Starbucks? Or that new donut from Tims? What is caramel flan even? Ew that’s a weird texture.

Pecan Tortoise Torte it is!

The Tortoise Torte

6. Continue reading

Alright, that was a nice reward. Back to reading. This time you actually read. Quite a bit!

7. Bathroom break

Bathroom Break

Reading get’s repetitive after a while. Your eyes just keep looking at the same thing: black text. Sometimes it’s interrupted by a few pictures, but they’re often diagrams that you don’t feel like decoding. This is tedious. Plus, that tea/coffee you drank earlier has made it’s way through your body. Wow you think, that was fairly quick. Time to hit the bathroom! This is a somewhat legitimate break.

8. Text break

When you get back from the bathroom, you’ve already been taken away from reading for so long (a few minutes), that it’s hard to get back into it. Did Debbie reply about what Timmy wrote on Janey’s wall? She did! Totally time for a text break.

9. Finish Reading

After Debbie loses reception cause she’s at Bloor station, you realize that you really need to get this reading done. You hide your phone in your pocket, but not before turning it to silent and disconnecting the wifi. You’re back at step one: determination & it works! You manage to shut everything off and just take in the words on the page. This is a good feeling.

Once your done you click open the syllabus that’s saved on your desktop, just to make sure you’re actually done. Completing the reading is such a weird feeling that you have to make sure you read the right pages. Wow, it looks like you did! You’re done! Oh wait…

10. There’s Study Questions


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