College life comes with its own unique struggles. When dealing with adapting to this new responsibility, it can be difficult to focus and study to pass your courses.
You can have noisy roommates, enjoy the college party scene, and you might have to hold down a job to pay for your tuition.
All these things can make it challenging to focus on studying, and you won’t have your parents around to remind you to get it done.
However, you did come to college for education, so learning to study effectively in your new environment is essential.
These seven study habits will help you stay in the focus zone and ace your college courses.
1. Create Your Own Study Group
Humans generally don’t thrive alone. We should try to share our struggles and our pleasure with one another. This even applies to studying.
When you join forces with people who can share their strengths with you, it makes learning more fun. You can learn from their studying methods, and they can learn from yours.
More importantly — you get accountability.
Of course, you will want to find students who also share your classes. It will be challenging to study two different topics together. With this in mind, you may need a few other study groups for different classes.
Either way, working with other people will help you create the positive habit of studying regularly, and you will get more out of your study time.
There is a flip side to this scenario, however. If you find that you spend more time socializing than studying, it’s time to quit that study group and find a more productive one.
2. Study When and Where Your Brain Is At Its Best
Your brain is unique and has a favored environment. Only you know what this environment is. Some still don’t know their best learning environment.
Some people are morning people; others are night owls. Depending on which group you fall into, try to do your studying when you are most alert.
Be sure to do your studying in an environment that is conducive to learning. This is different for everyone.
Some people can’t focus if it’s too quiet; others need quiet. Some people like to be outside, and others are too distracted by the movement of nature. Some like a brightly lit place; others prefer to study by a softer glow.
Whatever works best for you, take advantage of it. Knowing your learning styles, how and where you do your best studying can help ensure you gain the most knowledge from your study sessions.
3. Learn the Proper Way to Take Notes
Good note-taking skills can make studying for tests much easier.
When in class, listen for repetition. A professor will repeat an important fact.
Listen for emphasis. A professor will emphasize an important point.
Just like everyone has different learning styles, there are several different note-taking styles. Finding your favorite can help you take the best notes to study from.
Mind mapping and outlining are two popular methods. You could always ask the professor for a copy of their slides. This is a super-easy way to keep notes to study from that ensures you won’t miss a thing.
It’s important to review your notes and make additional notes or write down questions to revisit after leaving class. Sometimes your professor can talk so fast that it’s hard to keep up.
If you would like to learn more about taking notes in college, this article is a great read and comes with a video as well.
4. Hack Your Flashcards
Flashcards are the oldest study hack ever. You can optimize even this tried and true tactic, which the Leitner Method proves.
The Leitner method is a system to the flashcard method, based on the difficulty of information presented.
Curious to learn more?
Read all about it here.
5. Take Frequent Breaks
To prevent burnout and feeling overwhelmed, it’s crucial that you take frequent breaks when you are studying.
Your brain can only absorb so many facts before it starts to shut down. Instead of trying to cram it all in there, dedicate blocks of time to study a specific topic.
Once you’ve finished with that block, take a break. Breaks should be long enough to decompress but not so long that you forget everything you studied.
6. Get Rid of the All-Nighter Notion
The all-night study session seems to be an initiation as a college student. Yet, this age-old happening is hugely counterproductive.
Your brain will store less as the night goes on. (And you know exhaustion at test time will lead to you performing poorly.)
You’ll also find yourself falling behind on the rest of your daily responsibilities.
Instead, make studying an ongoing thing. A ritualistic approach to studying is much more effective.
Your brain will retain more in smaller chunks. You can work your way up to increased studying pre-test day, then slack off again post-test day.
7. Use Motivators
Procrastination is a doozy. No one is immune to its destructive forces.
To prevent it, create a reward system or motivation to study.
Everyone finds motivation through different means. This can be buying a special treat if you reach a certain amount of hours studying or going to see that new movie with your friends.
You can also create a mantra such as, “Hard work now results in rewards later.”
Sometimes your favorite quotes can motivate you.
Need some inspiration?
Here are a few good quotes to lean on.
When you develop good study habits, you’ll pass all your classes with flying colors. These good grades will translate into earning your degree and maybe even catch the eye of a company in your degree industry.
Kelsey is from Greenville, NC, and is an East Carolina University Alum. She’s a dedicated cat mom of two and has been with Grove at Auburn since July 2019. Since moving to Alabama, Kelsey has fallen in love with Auburn and the SEC life!