College courses can be overwhelming when you first start. With so much information to remember, it can be hard to know where to even begin.
These six tips for the college freshman can help you have less stress and more success!
1. Find A Spot Where You Can Focus
Having a dedicated study space is integral to studying effectively. It’s like how they say people with sleeping problems shouldn’t do anything in their bed other than sleep because it makes your brain associate your bed with things you do while awake. If you have a dedicated study space, that will tell your brain it’s time to hunker down and study.
There are tons of options for a study space and it all depends on your preferences. You can study in your dorm at your desk. If you like the outdoors, you could study on a bench or under a tree.
If you need quiet, the library is the perfect place. Libraries often have different levels of quietness as you go up. So, if you like to talk or like background noise you should study on the first floor. If you need complete silence go to the top floor.
If you like the ambiance of having other people around, study at a coffee shop or bakery. This is a favorite option of ours because you can reward yourself with a sweet treat when you’re done and you can energize yourself with coffee while you’re actually studying.
Whatever you choose, this space will become your go-to location for studying.
2. Methods That Work For You
Everyone learns differently. Because of this, everyone studies differently.
You might take colorful handwritten notes. Or, you might just type all of your notes in black and white. Some people need to read or hear something one time to remember it. Others need to quiz themselves using flashcards multiple times before they remember something.
Quizlet is a great platform for making digital flashcards you can use on the go!
If you learn best by hearing things, you could see if your professor allows recording lectures that you can listen to later. If you learn best visually, try creating mind maps. These connect concepts or processes with physical lines that you draw on paper. To cement things in your mind it can be helpful to rewrite it. Another great way to study is to explain it to another person in your own words.
You don’t have to figure out what’s exactly the right methods for you right away. Try out all of these different things and adjust accordingly as the school year goes on!
3. Actively Study
Everyone studies differently but, one quality of everyone’s studying should be the same. This is called actively studying.
Reading a textbook or highlighting a book is passive. You’re just reading the words. A better way to learn is to be active.
This could be taking notes as you read. You could also create flashcards with key terms as you read. One trick is to read a passage and then rewrite in your own words what you just read. Quizzing yourself on content is also active.
All of these things will keep you engaged with what you’re learning and help you recall it later with more ease.
4. Plan Time For Studying
It’s too easy to sit down with your notes at any old time and say that you’re going to study. Four hours later and you’re just scrolling on social media on your phone. You can avoid this by blocking out time in your day to study.
College is different from high school because your classes aren’t just in one big block. They’re all at different times on different days and you have a lot of free time that goes unchecked.
If you block out time to study for a specific class, then you see on your schedule what you’re meant to be doing. This way, you have a plan for when you’re getting things done for each class.
5. Keeping Yourself Accountable
Keeping yourself accountable is hard when you have so much freedom but, it’s very necessary for successful studying.
Keeping yourself accountable goes hand in hand with planning time for studying. It also has to do with what you’re actually getting done when you’re studying.
Just like your study space signals that it’s time to study, we like to listen to classical music while we’re studying! This audibly signals that you’re meant to be focusing on studying. The lack of words is helpful because listening to words while you’re reading other words can be confusing and distracting.
It’s also helpful to keep track of your time in small intervals so it doesn’t slip away from you. This can be regulated by using a Pomodoro timer. This can be an actual timer on your phone or a real one. There are also a few Google extensions that create this feature for you on your laptop. The Pomodoro technique gives you chunks of 25 minutes to focus on your work with 5-minute breaks in between. After the fourth full 25 minute chunk, you get one long 20-minute break.
This method is excellent at holding yourself accountable.
6. Make A Plan
Making a plan and sticking to it is essential to studying effectively.
This means reading your syllabus and writing down in your planner every important due date. One tip for big assignments such as essays is to write down the due date or week or two early. This way, if something happens, you have a buffer of time to get your work done.
This step also goes with planning out the exact times during your day when you’re going to study for each class.
If you follow all of these steps, you’re sure to be on your way to making great grades in college!