Ask Natalie: Summer, school and everything more

“Dear Natalie,

How do you minimize distractions while studying?”

That’s a simple question without a good answer. Everyone is different. Some people find being out in public in a cafe or outside as their best mood to study. Some prefer complete silence and try to find it in either their own bedrooms or in a library.

You just have to find which method works best for you. The best way to study and focus is to actually be engaged with what you're learning. If you find by just reading your notes, you get distracted more often, then change up how you study. Try quizzing yourself, making flashcards or rewriting all your notes. If you find that just keep getting up to get coffee, put yourself in a place where you can’t get any — no Starbucks study seshes for you, unfortunately.

There isn’t a “good” or “bad” way to study, it’s just what works for you and what doesn’t. Fine tune your habits and you’ll become a better student. I’m entering my fifth year and I’m still finding new ways to become a more efficient student. Some people strike gold their first study session, but don’t be discouraged if you can’t hit your stride right away.


I didn’t get the courses I was hoping for next year and I’m really, really bummed. I signed up for my back ups, but they aren’t ones I’m interested in. Some of them are required, but some of them are just boring and now I have to take them (cries). What should I do?”

Registration isn’t over! School hasn’t started yet! You can still change your classes! Wait and see if any spots open up in the courses you’re excited about. Be willing to jump on a computer in the middle of the night to register for the new classes.

But at the same time, don’t preemptively hate your classes. Just because your first pick courses’ had an interesting description that doesn’t mean that the actual class will be interesting. Look up your professors of your registered classes on Rate My Professors and see what they’re rating is. If it’s high and people seem to love them, honestly, just take a chance. Your boring class might be your most interesting class this year. That offbeat, last minute class addition might be your passion.

If term time comes around and you’re still in your second choice courses and you go to classes and completely hate it still, then just switch. September 22 is the last day to drop before your receive a W, but at the same time, you don’t want to get too far behind in a new class if you know you’re going to switch.

“Dear Natalie,

What would you do if you thought your relationship was turning into something boring and tired? I love my boyfriend, but I think our relationship is reaching its end. I don’t think he would break things off if I don’t, but how do I know when it’s really dead?”

Sometimes relationships can die right before your eyes and you don’t even know until you’re already at the end.

It’s easy to say I would leave now, but I know how hard it is to come to terms with the end of a relationship when nothing has caused the break up. When the end comes organically to a relationship, it’s hard to say when you should say the words.

You can talk to your partner about how you’re feeling and see if that helps. Don’t expect it to be easy, especially if you’re not sure if your boyfriend is also seeing the end, but because you’re so hesitant to break-up, it really can’t hurt. If you leave the relationship as it is, then in a few weeks, it won’t be comfortable. It will start to crumble and it will be messy and much harder to end things.

If you’re feeling the end, then the end is near. There is no reason you should stay in a relationship that you don’t want to be in anymore — and that includes the ones where you still love the other person.

Need advice? Contact Natalie anonymously at or at and have your questions answered!