Here are 10 tips to help you study more effectively in college.
Whether you are just starting your freshman year of college or are in graduate school, these simple tips can help all college students study a little more effectively.
1.) Time management and scheduling. One thing that differs in college vs. high school is the level of work assigned and the schedule on which it is due. In high school, you often were given an assignment in class that you’d go home and do that night for class the next day.
Your classes were likely every day, but in college you may have a class 3 days a week or even only once a week. You’ll need to plan time to complete your assignments and projects. Some might be due the next class while others might be due at the end of the semester. With multiple classes working on different schedules, you can become overwhelmed with the amount of ‘homework.
Use a planner or write down upcoming assignments and due dates to keep on top of what test is when and what paper is due when. The nice thing about college courses is that professors are required to give out a syllabus outlining the course schedule, assignments, and what is due when. This can help greatly in making a schedule.
2.) Take breaks while doing schoolwork. You’ll want to move around, get a drink, take a break, or get fresh air while studying. Being holed up in a library all night can put you to sleep. Wherever you choose to study, make sure you take breaks and get up and move around. It’ll break up the monotony of just sitting there and you’ll be slightly more focused when you return to studying.
3.) Limit distractions as much as possible. There is a fine line between taking a break from the work and becoming distracted while doing the work. Some students prefer to go to a corner in the library and work alone while others can work in their dorm rooms , bedrooms, or apartments. Partying roommates may mean well, but that party can get in the way of your paper or studying.
Temptations such as video game sessions with your roommate, random trips to 7-11, and invites to events and parties can be fun and a great break from studying. However if they turn into all night events, you’ve lost the time to get your work done.
Don’t watch TV or surf the internet while doing your work. This includes turning off programs such as AIM if you are easily distracted. You’ll become distracted and before you know it, 3 hours will have passed by. When you sit down to do your work, focus on your work.
4.) Reward yourself. Sitting down and dedicating time to your studies can be hard and even boring at times. If you want to do other ‘more fun’ things, use those as a reward for when you finish your work. If you have a 10 page research paper to do tonight, tell yourself that after 5 pages are completed you’ll reward yourself. Whatever your reward, make it something you’ll look forward to but not something that will hinder your ability to return to your work. You wouldn’t want to ‘reward’ finishing half of your paper by doing a keg stand for example because returning to the paper to finish it may not happen.
5.) Get everything you need in one place. When heading to your preferred study spot, come prepared. Bring all the paperwork and books you need for your studying to that spot. Also bring a bottle of water, a snack, pens, your laptop, and whatever else you need to get your work done. You’ll stay focused and have everything at your fingertips.
6.) Don’t skip sleep for cram sessions. No matter what led you to a late night cram session the night before the final, don’t stay up all night. Take small naps or call it a night and go to bed for a few hours before the test. Some students will stay up all night and study until the hour of the test. You risk falling asleep at the test and your memory will be unclear. Studying on no sleep means you risk not being able to absorb all the information and facts you are memorizing and taking a test on no sleep means there is a risk you’ll forget key information or struggle to recall what you studied.
7.) Make study aids. Some people prefer to study right out of the book or their notes. For other students this can be boring and ineffective. Popular study aids include making flash cards, preparing powerpoint slides with key facts and info on them to look over, rewriting notes and key terms, and working with friends to quiz each other on material. You can also outline the material or create bullet point study guides.
8.) Don’t party too hard. College is a time to explore and a time to have fun as much as it is a time to learn and focus on one’s studies. The problem is that some students simply party too much and leave little or no time for their studies.
If you have a paper due at 8am tomorrow, maybe going to that party until 4am isn’t the best idea. Work on schoolwork prior to going out or make sure you have time to complete the studying or work before the test or due date. Many students every year fail to find a balance and end up failing out or getting thrown out. Remember, if you love the college lifestyle you need to pass your classes or both your education and the great lifestyle are lost when you fail out.
9.) Ask questions. If you don’t understand something in the material, ask your professor. Their job is to teach the material and help students understand the material. As long as you show up to class on a regular basis, most professors will be more than happy to help you out. This can lead to more effective study sessions and less frustration when going over material that may be confusing.
10.) Have fun. Yes, I know I mentioned the importance of not getting distracted and not partying all the time as studying is a main part of getting a college education. But your college years are some of the best years of you life. If at all possible, live at your college and take full part in the life of living at college.
A lot of the college experience is priceless and if you are always studying, you’ll miss out on some experiences that you may never get later in life. Again remember that you are there to learn, but as long as you keep your grades up, you’ll still be there and able to take part in the college life beyond the books.�