Every college student has experienced the drive and determination that comes with the beginning of a new school year. This time I’ll do all of my homework as soon as it’s assigned. This time I’ll study for the big exam at least a week ahead of time. This time I’ll dedicate at least x hours a week to my most difficult class. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for these lofty aspirations to go right out the window after a few weeks! Suddenly the life of partying and weekday movie nights with friends becomes all-too-tempting.
Don’t worry, there’s hope for a bright studying future! Follow these tips and you’ll be rewarded with immaculate grades and an almost suspicious lack of stress in your life!
Weeknights are for Homework. (Almost) Always.
Yes, college means you’re now in charge of your own life and your own schedule. You can eat pizza for breakfast without anyone yelling at you. You can stay up as late as you want. You can get swasted with your buds on a Wednesday without being reprimanded. But does that mean you should do these things? Not if you want to succeed.
Weeknights should be dedicated to getting all of your homework and studying done – as soon as it’s assigned if possible. Should you never leave the prison of your desk 5 nights out of the week? Of course not. But the idea is that homework should always be your first priority. Take a short relaxation period – 1 hour or 2 at most – after your classes are done for the day, then get to work. Don’t go out or have that Netflix marathon until you have completed all of your homework for the evening. Easier said than done, of course.
Having a job can make this difficult, but plan accordingly. This is great for developing time management skills that will be vital to you in the future. You’ll have significantly less free time of course, but free time is overrated anyway. You know what they say about idle hands and all that jazz.
Make a Schedule (and Stick to It)
Tired of forgetting what day your next big test is? Sick of walking into class and finding out there was quiz today? There is a reason why many middle schools and high schools require their students to keep assignment planners. This tool is vital to your survival through college, yet so many students never have one!
Get a planner and start scheduling out your day. Write your classes in and designate specific study times/times to complete homework. Place the number of hours you expect to spend on these tasks every day and then STICK WITH IT. The schedule in the planner is not a suggestion, it’s a law. You can find planners specifically aimed at college students at your college store and at most bookstores.
To make sure you keep a good schedule, always keep your class syllabi filed away somewhere. Almost every syllabus has a tentative assignment and test schedule that will help you remember when certain things are due. Also, you need to pay attention in class. Assignment dates are changed all the time because unexpected events. Your professor might even feel like the class needs a quiz to better understand the material. Pencil in any changed dates as soon as they’re mentioned!
Drop the Electronics
Electronics can make our lives incredibly convenient on the one hand, but also be insanely distracting on the other. Having your iPhone next to your or internet browser up while studying is just asking for trouble. Put the Xbox out of view. Keep the iPad charging in the living room. You need to focus on what is in front of you.
Only keep the necessary technology on hand, like your laptop. If you’re writing a paper, consider turning your internet off so you can write without distraction. If you want to be really strict about it, write your paper out in longhand first and then type it out. This is also a great way to catch any errors or awkward syntax.
Don’t limit this “no technology” rule to your at-home studying. Opening your laptop during class can lead to trouble. One minute you’re listening to a lecture on Kant, the next you’re completely absorbed by the social media vortex. Tuning out during class means you can miss out on some vital info and make studying later significantly more difficult. Your professor won’t appreciate the clear snub towards their lecture either!
Mix Up Your Studying Locations
Studies show that people often bind their knowledge to the environments they study in. Studying in the same place all the time would be fantastic if you could take your test there, but unless you’re taking online classes, having this knowledge bound to your home office won’t help you much. In fact, it might even be detrimental to your academic performance in the long run. Many other studies have confirmed that you tend to have better recall if you study the same material in multiple places. On a less scientific front, studying in the same place is just plain boring and your apartment is brimming with distractions.
Where else can you study aside from your home office? The school library is classic. Local bookstores have a fantastic academic feel to them that is inspiring for studying. Coffee shops practically emanate productive vibes. Outdoor parks allow you to get some sun while you read. The list is endless! Particularly if you attend a big University with many different buildings and quiet spaces.
Tone Down the Drama in Your Life
The key to effective studying is being able to focus on what’s in front of you. Sometimes you can get rid of all the frills and the technology and still can’t seem to get anything done. Unfortunately, the enemy in this case is your own mind.
Are things going well in your personal life? Have a recent breakup? Feeling like your finances are getting the best of you? Have some tension with a friend? Worrying about your future? All of these anxieties and more take away from what is sitting right in front of you.
There are many ways to remedy personal problems. If it’s something you can’t deal with right now, then exercise and meditate for a designated amount of time every day. Both of these activities are shown to significantly lower stress. If you are feeling down, get in touch with your school’s counselor. They’re always there with open ears and sound advice.
Make sure that you kick any drama out of your life for good. Have someone who isn’t interested in your romantic advances? Forget ’em. Have a friend who can’t seem to stop causing trouble? Kick them out of your life. You don’t need the stress! Crappy job? Find another that will make you feel better about yourself.
Take steps forward. College is supposed to be the best time of your life, so make sure you have a blast! Your happiness will be reflected in your grades!
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