You might think that because you have graduated high school, you have a pretty good grasp of how to study effectively.
However, when you go to college, you will no longer be living with your parents or guardians, and thus you will not have anyone standing over you and making you put in the long hours of studying.
You will be independent, something you have probably longed for, but with independence comes responsibility, and it will be up to you to put in the work so that you achieve the results that reflect your ability. These tips will help you to manage your studies in your new surroundings, making it easier to get the most out of college.
The best place to study
You have two main options. First your dorm room, which is probably the most obvious place and will be fine providing you have space to work and not too many distractions. Unless you are very self-disciplined, you may find that it can be hard to concentrate in your room. You might feel more at home and relaxed here, but you should consider whether your room makes a suitable study space.
It may depend on your subject of course. If you are working on math or science projects, you will need peace and quiet, but if you are creating something artistic, you may not find that you need the same level of solitude. If you decide that your room is not conducive to quality study time, then head for the library. Here you will have plenty of desk space, it should be peaceful and free of too many distractions, and of course, you will have access to all the resources plus the professional expertise of the welcoming library staff.
Planning your study time
You need to be putting your studies first, but it would be unrealistic to imagine that students won’t want to have a good time and spend a little time partying now and then. College is an exciting place to be and these years of your life are full of possibilities and curiosity. The social side of college is an important part of the whole experience and can be educational in itself. The trick is to find the balance between getting enough study done and having fun.
It is best achieved by having a study schedule whereby you set aside certain blocks of time in which to complete the work you have to complete. How you arrange this will depend on your daily timetable and any other commitments such as sports and clubs. Make use of any free periods in your timetable and use them as ready-made study blocks by spending the time in the library hitting the books. You need to be realistic about how much time you need to devote to your studies.
If you are struggling with anything, get some help from your tutors and allow extra time to get on top of any elements you are finding more difficult. When you first set your schedule, you will be basing it largely on guesswork, so review how things go each week and make any adjustments to ensure you are managing to complete everything.
Using your study time
It’s usually best to have a clear desk where you can work which is another reason why the library is such a good place! If you are studying in your room, try to keep your desk as clear as possible and free of clutter. Only have on your desk the items you need to complete your current assignments.
One of the big problems with studying when you’re at college is procrastination. This is something most people experience at some point, and for many, it becomes a chronic problem. If you find that you are busy doing things during your study time but have little to show for it, then the likelihood is you have been procrastinating.
It’s easy to be aware of not doing something because you are lazing around or doing another thing entirely, but procrastination makes you think you’ve been working hard when in reality you were doing things that weren’t contributing to the achievement of your main task. It can be a hard habit to break, but there are many resources available online that can help you identify and deal with your procrastination issues.
Distractions are another big problem. It could be your friends or roommates calling in for a chat or asking you to go out, or it could be something as simple as having to find out what happens in the next chapter of the book you are reading. Try to cut out as many distractions as you can, for example, make sure everyone knows you don’t want to be disturbed. If you stick to what you say, then even the most persistent friends will learn to leave you alone. It would only apply to your study times, and outside of your schedule, they will know you will be happy to enjoy their company.
Books and TV and the Internet can be very distracting, but you can also use a few tricks to manage these as well. There are some great blocking tools available online that you can use to restrict what you can access on the Internet. If books are your downfall, try not to keep any near your workspace – especially ones you are in the middle of reading!
Try to identify what your distractions are, and then find ways that work for you to control them. If you are finding things difficult, don’t struggle on alone. Use the support of your friends, seek advice from the college staff, and if you have a specific problem see what you can find out online that could help. There are some very good learning resources and writing aids that you can learn more about and which may help you overcome your difficulties.
Your college years should be one of the most exciting experiences of your life. College is a doorway to the life you aspire to lead, and taking your studies seriously is the best way of making the most of all the opportunities that college has to offer.
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