For most college students, the first few weeks of classes can be rough as you adjust to new teachers, new classmates, and new material. In fact, if you aren’t careful, those first few weeks can turn into months or even years of struggling with your classes and getting poor grades as a result. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Check out these top 10 study tips for undergraduate students, and make sure you are off to the right start this semester.
10 Study Tips For College Students
1) Set Aside Time For Studying
You’ve probably heard that you should study in small chunks throughout the day. This is true, but you should also make sure to set aside time for extended blocks of studying, as well. The most successful students treat their coursework as a part-time job. They block out at least 3-4 hours per day for intense bouts of work. By regularly dedicating large chunks of time to your courses, you’ll be less prone to procrastination and more likely to get things done faster—thereby making yourself more efficient over time. Also, don’t forget about breaks! Give yourself a break once every 90 minutes or so during extended study sessions, even if it’s just going for a quick walk around campus or getting some fresh air on a quad nearby.
2) Get Organized
If you’re just starting out in college, it can be overwhelming. You’re a new person at an unfamiliar place, which means it will take time to learn where things are and how to do things quickly and efficiently. The good news is that you have plenty of time. There’s no need to feel rushed! Before classes start, figure out how your schedule will work for you – block off times for important tasks like studying and sleep, and always use a planner or calendar app so you don’t forget meetings with professors or other commitments. The more organized you are from day one, the more easily success will come!
3) Stay on top of Assignments
No matter how great you are at remembering things, it’s inevitable that you’ll forget at least one assignment. To avoid falling behind in your courses, start each new semester by compiling a list of all your assignments and due dates on a calendar. By being proactive, you can quickly spot classes where there might be too many assignments coming up at once—and adjust accordingly by asking for an extension or switching some of your projects around so deadlines aren’t directly conflicting with each other. This approach also helps ensure that no unexpected assignments come up during midterms or finals week. Remembering everything is important, but prioritizing and planning ahead can save you time and stress in the long run.
4) Always Bring a Bag on Campus
Nothing will make you more productive in college than having your laptop, notebooks, and a good source of caffeine in one place—and you won’t have to leave campus for it. Many dorms have laundry facilities that can be used for free—but make sure your dorm has them before you decide to leave those dirty socks hanging around your room. The combination of a proper bag and a well-placed laundry line can take hours off your studying time each week (and let’s face it, if you don’t put in those hours now, when will you?). Now get back out there!
5) Keep Track of Your Grades
You can look back at your grades over time (try one of these free tools) and see how you’re doing in each class. If one grade is consistently below average, it might be worth making an appointment with your professor. It’s also a good idea to make note of how often you take exams, quizzes or similar assignments as well as how you feel before, during and after each test. The more consistent your feelings are on a regular basis, the better chance you have of prepping for that type of assessment.
6) Take Breaks when Needed
This can be particularly useful if you’re working on a paper or something that requires your full attention. Set yourself a timer and reward yourself with 15 minutes of Netflix at each interval. If you get distracted, go ahead and do it anyway—you still deserve that break! But just don’t let your day dissolve into hours of mindless TV-watching, which only makes it harder to get back into work mode.
7) Don’t Overwork Yourself
Procrastination is a big killer of academic performance—so if you’ve got a paper due tomorrow, don’t stay up all night stressing about it. Keep a healthy work-life balance so that you can get enough sleep, spend time with friends and family, and participate in activities outside of class that add interest and meaning to your life. At work? You may find it beneficial to write down your long-term goals for studying and your progress towards them so that you can look back on how far you’ve come when things get stressful. This kind of reflection can be powerful!
8) Focus On Getting Better at Learning, Not Memorizing
Simply put, learning is a skill. Memorizing information on test day is not one of them. That’s why students who get into top schools aren’t necessarily there because they can regurgitate massive amounts of information; rather, it’s because they have great study habits and skills that are transferable. Even if you don’t plan on getting into Harvard or Yale (or any other college for that matter), you can still improve your study habits with these tips and become better at obtaining and retaining knowledge— which will make your academic experience infinitely more enjoyable. So start practicing now! It may seem like an uphill battle at first, but these tactics are easy to follow once you learn how they work. As always, feedback is appreciated!
9) Create a Comfortable Atmosphere to Work In
This may sound like one of the silly study tips, but don’t work at your desk. It’s not comfortable, it’s distracting and you’ll end up spending all day in your office, not because you want to but because it’s convenient. Instead, grab a good book and head over to Starbucks or another coffee shop; many of them have plug-ins for laptops. It might be noisy, but it will be quiet enough for you to concentrate on your study materials. And besides—after an hour or two of cramming, a muffin will taste that much better if you get some fresh air while you enjoy it!
10) Develop Good Study Habits from the Start
Form good study habits early on and they’ll be much easier to stick with in college. Decide on a regular time and place for studying, and stick with it. For example, if you sit at your desk during every free period of your day before school, you’ll get used to studying there. Then you won’t have to fight yourself when it comes time for your calculus class—you’ll already be primed for hard work. You can also make studying more fun by bringing friends or family into your study space. It’s less like being trapped in a library, and more like hanging out with people who care about you. And remember that just because you’re an undergraduate doesn’t mean that everyone else is too! Ask upperclassmen for help if you need it—they may even be able to help you find tutors or other resources to support your learning.
Having educational information and study tips and sticking to them is often not a ride in the park but if you hold on to them, your grades and overall performance will thank you. You can implement the tips gradually as you deem fit or take on all tips at once.