This Valedictorian Didn't Review Daily, But Practiced Other Study Habits Instead

It's not about overworking yourself.
IMAGE Courtesy of Josh Ambrosio, pexels.com, unsplash.com

In college, there's always room to learn new things about ourselves, even for top students like Josh Ambrosio. Josh is the valedictorian of University of the Philippines - Diliman's Class of 2020, and even he started out not knowing what he wanted to do after college. In an e-mail conversation with Candy, Josh shares a peek into his college life--from his study habits down to the things he likes to do in his free time.

He didn’t originally know what he wanted to do and was a shiftee.

“I graduated from the BS Economics (Econ) program, but I entered UP as a BS Business Administration & Accountancy (BAA) student,” Josh shares. “To be honest, I chose my original course because 1.) it had a good reputation, and 2.) I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after college. 

“These were not good reasons. I ended up shifting out of BAA at the end of my second year after discovering that I didn't like accounting. By that time, I had taken some economics classes as they were required in the BAA curriculum. I found the subject matter and methodology of the discipline interesting, hence my shift into Econ. Specifically, I liked the idea of a social science grounded in empirical work and mathematical theory (and yes, I'm very aware of how nerdy that sounds).” 

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He doesn’t study every day, only when he needs to.

“Contrary to popular belief, I didn't study every single day of my college life (but I think my average daily study time would be about 30 minutes). Instead, I studied when I felt I needed to, so I didn't really have a routine--but I did have a schedule. 

“For example, I would usually begin reviewing for an exam around 1-2 weeks before the test date, as that would give me enough time to read through the reference materials, re-read my notes, and relax. During my study sessions, I would try to focus solely on the tasks at hand. I would go offline and sit myself at my desk (or at a table in a coffee shop) until I'd finished everything I needed to do for the day, even if it took a fair amount of time and/or effort.”

His notes are completely digital.

When we asked if he could share a photo of what his notes typically look like, Josh admits that couldn’t provide one because all his notes were digital. “I would type my notes and delete the files at the end of each semester,” he says. "I started doing this around junior year, when I realized that 1.) my bad penmanship made reviewing handwritten notes difficult and 2.) having everything in one easily accessible folder was much more convenient for me." 


Study tip: Don’t stick to what you learn during lectures. Seek a secondary source.

“To give you an idea of what my notes were like, I'd often make two sets. The first would be based on lectures, and the second would be based on textbooks or other materials,” Josh says. “In hindsight, taking notes from supplementary sources was probably one of the reasons I did well. It allowed me to clarify concepts that I didn't quite get during the lecture, fill gaps in my knowledge, and learn useful things that weren't discussed.”

Breaks, even short ones, are still important.

Even top students understand the need for taking a break. “Yes, I would take study breaks during my review sessions,” Josh says when asked if he takes study breaks. “I would rest whenever I felt I wasn't able to concentrate on the material any more, which would be roughly once every hour or so, depending on the subject and topic.”


“These short 5-10 minute breaks--during which I'd stretch and get food or something to drink--were a great help, as I would always go back to my studying feeling refreshed and ready. Shoutout to my usual study places, i.e. Starbucks UPTC and Starbucks Petron. :)”

He’s not all about academics; org is life, too.

“Back in college, most of my non-acads time--actually, most of my time in general--was dedicated to serving my organization, UP Advertising Core. I was lucky enough to be part of its executive committee during my junior and senior years, as VP for Finance and President, respectively. 

“I say ‘lucky’ because the experience was one of the most fun and fulfilling parts of my college life, even if balancing that with other commitments could be very stressful. When I wasn't doing acads or org work, I would be sleeping, trying to exercise (emphasis on trying), or just spending time with my friends.” 


YouTube is where he usually spends his time online these days.

Back in college, he’d spend time online to accomplish org work, aside from the occasional scrolling through FB. “I'm not sure how much time I would spend on social media back in college, though if I were to guess, it would be somewhere in the range of 3-4 hours per day,” he shares. “A large chunk of that time--definitely more than half--would be dedicated to org work, with the rest allocated to acads and other miscellaneous stuff (e.g. scrolling through my timeline).

“Nowadays, I spend about 5+ hours on social media daily, as I have a lot more time on my hands. Most of that is spent watching videos - whatever pops up in my Youtube recommendations and streams of games I like - and a small part goes to managing my dog's Instagram account.” 

When it comes to studying, he prefers to stick  to what works for him.

When asked about study tips that didn’t work for him, Josh shares that he’s actually not a huge fan of looking up study hacks. “I'm not really one to try study tips. I was fortunate enough to find something at the start of college that worked for me, and I just stuck with it all the way through.”



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Mylene Mendoza
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