College kids are in the throws of Fall break, enjoying a small frame of time to take a mental break and regroup. The real work begins once back on campus. Between now and the first part of December, students (especially freshmen) will face overwhelming responsibilities, academic pressures, and daily tasks that bring on stress and high anxiety.
One way to reduce academic stress and to get ready for final exams is to mind map each class, starting as soon as you get back to campus. Use the maps to plan for and guide you to the end of the semester.
Mind mapping is a highly effective strategy to organize information. It is a technique that is used in the corporate world, industry, education, therapy, and many other fields. Mind mapping lets information get in and out of your brain for the better cause of planning, organizing, or goal setting. It is a way to visualize, plan, create small steps and remember ideas. The hierarchical relationship between the main ideas and secondary ideas is accentuated in a diagram that resembles a spider. The flow of the process starts from the center where a central theme, idea, or concept is identified and recorded (the belly of the spider). Radiating from this main idea (or college class for purposes of this publication) outward in the form of "legs" or branches, are secondary ideas or concepts that are specifically detailed. The process allows for random information to be logically connected in an order of importance or association, or as a means to plan.
If you were going to create a mind map for Geology 101, you would place the name of the class in the center (body of the spider) and draw at least four legs extending from that body, each leg representing a key word or concept related to the center idea (class). Try to use single key words to make the flow of the chart easy and memorable. For instance, on one leg you want to write "quiz Nov.4". On another you may want to include "group project due Nov.20".
From each of these four main legs, draw three "veins" with even more specific details like "study chapters 9-11, or work on Power Point. These will be your specific tasks. Keep branching off of the main four spider legs with as many vein systems as you need to get down all important and related information and actionable steps for completing Geology 101 assignments by exam time.
Mind mapping is not only fun and powerful, but it is a way for you to use both sides of the brain integrating the words, logic and lists of the left brain and the color, imagination, and the seeing the whole picture of the right side of the brain.
There are computer programs, apps, trainings, Ted talks, You Tube videos, and various other ways to teach you to mind map, but simple paper and color utensils will do the trick. Google how to create a mind map and practice over Fall break. You will be head back to campus feeling prepared and clear on how you will spend your mental energies between now and December.