Effective Studying Strategies For College Students
Congratulations! You did it. You have finished one of the biggest milestones of your early life, the high school years. You are about to make a huge transition to becoming a college freshman. You are entering adulthood, acquiring more freedom. You have your notable youth’s energy and you can not wait to meet like-minded people like yourself. You have heard many times that the college years are the best years of your life.
Just think about it, you are going to be surrounded by peers your age, but no parents to monitor you. To top it all off, your parents are financially helping you to live independently! I mean, when else are your parents going to spend thousands of dollars on you, so you can party?
While freedom and partying may be a part of the college experience, these years are also the most privileged and vital years in acquiring skills and education needed to open up career opportunities. You should use the years strategically to gain a wealth of knowledge for a future career.
Much of college is about going to class, studying, and taking exams. The rigorous academic work may actually come as a shock for first-year college students. That’s why it is of utmost importance to develop study techniques and habits that will lead to a path of success.
When it comes to studying effectively, different methods work for different students. However, there are some strategies that can maximize learning for most students.
Setting Up The Right Study Environment
Studying in the library may not be suitable for everyone. Creating the perfect environment for studying is not a one-size-fits-all process. Some students actually prefer some background noise. You may find that sitting on a picnic table in a park works really well for you. You need to find your comfortable space and be able to focus. You can’t get too comfortable either. Sitting on your bed and studying might lead you to doze off.
Once you have established a location that helps you to focus, figure out a time when your brain functions optimally. In other words, when you are best able to absorb course material. For example, your attention span might be the best at 11 am right after a class or 8 pm after dinner!
Power off your cell phone. Social media updates and text messages about your upcoming costume party at a fraternity can wait. Shutting your cell phone off will avoid many unnecessary distractions.
When you study, your brain is working hard and using fuel. You have to replenish it by eating and drinking. It’s a great idea to munch on healthy snacks and fuel your brain when you study. And by drinking I mean water and energy drinks. (The Fireball in the fridge should be reserved for the weekend party!)
Always keep in mind that you are paying to be in college, it is your time to effectively use all the resources available to you and build your skills. One such skill is to read more effectively.
To get the most out of your reading comprehension, use a method called SQRRR or SQ3R. It’s a great approach to effective critical reading. This method was developed and introduced by philosopher Francis P. Robinson in 1946, in his book called Effective study. In this method, there are 5 steps.
- Survey- Find the main ideas and skim the texts.
- Question- Think of your existing knowledge and brainstorm any questions on the topic that you are expecting to learn.
- Read- when reading search for answers to your questions
- Recite- What knowledge do you expect to remember from your reading. (Take notes and explain in your own words).
- Review- Go over all the notes and review all difficult parts. (It helps to do it out loud)
Most importantly, attend your classes. Those high school days of skipping classes, to go on self-motivated field trips at the park are over. Taking effective notes in classes is vital to getting through college. Try not to zone out in class or look up how many likes you got on your latest Facebook post. Instead, listen to the professor and think. Focus on your professor’s verbal cues and write down crucial information. No need to blindly jot down every single word.
Take Advantage Of Slow Weeks
There will definitely be slower weeks in college in terms of academic workload. Utilize them wisely. It’s really no fun to drink your red bull at 3 am in the morning, while you try to cram in 10 chapters for your upcoming exam. Also, get ahead on subjects that are the most challenging for you. Start the long projects instead of waiting until the last minute. Study each subject for 30 minutes each day even if there’s nothing due on that particular week. It’s a great time to review and revise your notes and to make flashcards.
Organize And Create A Calendar
Staying organized throughout college is an important contributing factor to your success. It’s advisable to buy a planner or just download an app. Many still like old fashioned paper planners. Use different colors for different activities. This can help to recognize the more urgent stuff. Make sure, your exam dates and all major project due dates are noted in bold or bright letters on your planner. Buy multiple folders and binders for each subject. It’s great to have a filing system for each subject.
Collaborate With Other Classmates
Group studying is a great way to motivate each other if done right! A group in this case means about 5 people with the intent to study. Together, problem-solving works much better. When you are part of a group, you can hone in on different skills and have a deeper insight into the subject being studied. As a group, go over topics that you do not fully understand, as someone else may be able to explain it to you.
Take Breaks, Sleep, And Exercise
It’s important to know when to stop studying. After a while, your brain shuts down. Take breaks, walk around, grab a coffee or, vent to your mom on the phone about your roommate’s odd habits. Clear your head, it will improve your focus.
Sleeping well, exercising, and eating healthy are also important to maintain focus. In fact, doing some aerobic exercises before studying can actually improve focus, attention, and memory, according to Dr.John J. Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. So hit the gym, before you hit the books!
Of course, college is more than just about coursework. It is a time to experience new things, meet new people, and learn to balance academics and socializing. Studying efficiently and strategically is the key to success!
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Read on: The SMART Way to Study