Classes in college can be hard. You don’t always know if a topic is going to be easy for you to understand or hard. You often have more work for one class than you did for any of your classes in high school. How do you get all of your work done and still have time to work or spend time with friends? Here are some tips to help you study smarter, not harder.
Develop a routine. College courses require a certain amount of study time per credit. When you start a class you should plan out the time that you are going to study and put it into your schedule. Some classes may take a little more time or less time depending on your interest and current knowledge. In the first week or two, you should be able to modify the schedule that you have made for yourself as needed to develop a routine that you can follow for the rest of the semester.
Remove distractions. Anything that could be distracting to you when you are studying should be put away or turned off while you study. This may mean your phone, tv, or even an object that you fidget with. If it is a distraction, remove it from your environment.
Change your environment. Go somewhere new to study. Sometimes a change of environment can help clear your head. If you are in an environment that you are in all the time, for things unrelated to studying, your mind could be reminded of other things and start to wander.
Prioritize your work. Make sure that you are doing the homework that has the closest due dates or makes up a bigger part of your grade. Sometimes small things might need to be done after the big project so that you can make sure you have enough time to work on the project and get it finished.
Start with the hard material first. If you are trying to get a lot of things checked off your list, start with the hardest item first. You will start that material with a clear mind and be able to devote more energy to it. When you finish the hardest thing first it can also be motivating because you already did the hardest part. Nothing else you have for the day will be as hard.
Take good notes. You should be taking notes while you study and while you are in class. Keep your notes simple by using bullet points instead of complete sentences. This will make it easier to review them later. If you like to doodle in class, use this skill to draw yourself models and figures and label them for study later (this can be especially useful in science and art classes.) Make sure to keep your notes organized so you can find what you need later.
Make flashcards. Flashcards are a great study tool. The process of writing the information can be a good way to help you memorize the information. Then once they are made they can be used as frequently as necessary to review the concepts. These can be made with every unit in the class and then used at the end of the semester to help you study for finals. (Don’t wait until the week before finals to start making them or it will probably feel overwhelming.)
Study with a friend. If you have a friend in your class with you, you can ask them to study once a week to make sure that you are on the same page and neither of you is missing anything. If you don’t have a friend in class, you can make a friend in your class or you can ask another friend to help you study and quiz you using your flashcards.
Take a break. Take breaks as you need them. There is nothing worse than trying to study for hours at a time with no breaks in between. A break can be as simple as taking your eyes off of the computer and taking 1-5 minutes to look around you. Taking breaks will help keep your mind sharp while you study.
Get good sleep. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep at night so you can fully utilize your study time during the day. This will help keep you from falling asleep in a boring class or while reading a dull textbook that you want to get through as quickly as possible.
Use these tips to help you study smarter this semester and see how much more you can get done throughout the day. They will help you be efficient in your studies and stay on top of your schoolwork.