Highschool may help you get into college, but college is a whole new ball game. Most colleges will have larger classes, heavier workloads, and professors who aren’t as personally involved. These factors create a larger challenge, but by reevaluating your study habits and making necessary adjustments, you’ll be able to not only pass but to thrive in your college courses.
1. Take Notes & Reread Them
Taking notes is not a new idea yet many students still fail to take good notes. If you are copying the textbook word for word or if you are simply writing down everything your professor says, you aren’t taking proper notes. When you take notes, it’s wise to write down everything the professor writes on the board or has on their slides. If a professor takes the time to write something down, it is (generally) important. However, there is no need to write down pages and pages of information. Try to stay focused on the main ideas. If you record your professor’s lecture, take note of the timestamp of when they introduce a new concept or something important.
While you read textbooks, it’s beneficial to write down any important quotes and phrases, along with their page number and what else it relates to in your class. Connecting thoughts through your notes will help you understand big picture ideas. Take note of concepts that are bolded or in headings, use highlighters and sticky notes, and create quiz questions as you go along. Most importantly, whether it’s from the class or the book, stay organized and reread your notes later. Taking notes does you little good if you never review them.
2. Make Flashcards
For classes like history and English, memorization is a large part of the study process. When you need to familiarize yourself with dates, vocabulary, and definitions, it’s wise to create flashcards. Writing down the flashcard information alone will help you to better recall it later. Practicing with flashcards helps your mind to memorize the information and store it. You can use flashcards while you wait in grocery lines, on public transportation, and during commercial breaks. Flashcards even work for classes like math and science when you need to memorize equations and theories.
3. Mix it Up
It’s easy for your mind to wander and for you to lose focus on a topic when you’ve been studying for one class hours on end. If you find yourself getting distracted, try mixing up what you are studying. Instead of spending three hours working on a single class, work on a few other classes for thirty minutes each. This helps break up the monotony of one class and makes it easier for you to see your progress in each course. Mixing up your studies also helps you to recall information better.
4. Take Breaks
If you mix up your study load by every half hour, take a 15-minute break every hour. Taking breaks helps you from feeling burned out. Plus, it gives you a set time and amount of time to distract yourself instead of in the middle of your homework. Don’t spend each of your breaks on your phone though. Some breaks should be spent using the bathroom, getting a snack, or moving around. Just as it’s important to mix up your studies, it’s important to mix up your breaks.
5. Switch Settings
It’s natural for people to find a place they like to study and make that their “spot.” However, it might be more helpful for you to mix it up. Find a place you like to study in each building on campus as well as a place you can study in your apartment. Having multiple places to study will keep your mind fresh. Plus, that way if someone is in your spot, you have a different place to go.
6. Study Groups
Group projects usually come with a set of communication and time management challenges. However, study groups are different. While it may still be difficult to find a time to meet with a group, the work you do together doesn’t harm your grade or perspective of the class. Study groups are beneficial because they help you find people to talk to about your class. Simply talking about the information being taught can help you to better retain and recall it later. In study groups, you can compare notes and discuss each section of the class to help each group member understand it better. Plus, it can be helpful to have other people alongside you keeping you accountable for personal study and proper notetaking. Studying doesn’t always need to be a solo mission.
7. Teach It
It is easy to simply sit in a lecture hall and listen to your professor, but when it comes time to teach someone else the same material, you can gauge how well you understood the information. Using your notes and the materials from class, take the time to teach others what you are learning. This is especially helpful in study groups. Each group member can take a turn explaining a subject and teaching it. Whether you are the teacher or the student, the teaching study method is a helpful tool.
College is difficult. There is no doubt about that. However, when you realize the study methods and materials at your disposal, it can become easier. The key to college success is proper studying!