Study tips for college

As important to your educational success as they are, many of us largely ignore good study habits.  We often treat our study time as we might a secondary hobby, assuming that the information will somehow be absorbed into our brains through some sort of osmosis-like process.  We leave the television on, rock out to our favorite tunes, wait until the last minute to start, or assume our time spent in class or reviewing notes online will somehow fill the gap.  For a miniscule minority they somehow thrive on such poor study techniques.  For the rest of us though, practicing good study habits is a necessity.  Understanding, and more importantly, following these 10 study tips can result in more effective and efficient learning, and in turn, better grades.

Start in advance
Procrastinating is one of the worst study mistakes one can make.  It can leave you feeling rushed, nervous, and unprepared.  On the flip side of this dilemma is starting your studying so early that you find you’ve forgotten the material you previously reviewed by test time.  Therefore, begin studying at a time you feel will comfortably allow you to learn at a relaxed pace but not so far in advance that your review becomes ineffective.

Attend class
Whether online or in the classroom, it is important that you attend class.  While this can occasionally seem like a waste of time, you never know what you might miss when you skip class.  Often, professors will mention pertinent information regarding items that might be on tests, quizzes, or that relate to project work, and may even hint at or provide test questions.  A professor’s lectures and notes are often a road map that closely mirrors their quizzes, tests, and finals.

Utilize your friends/classmates
While studying with friends can be distracting, utilizing their knowledge and understanding of subjects can be valuable.  By asking classmates or friends for tips regarding material you might not understand, notes you don’t have or missed, and ideas of what they think might be on the test, you can sometimes pick up important information.  You might also catch a few inside tips that they picked up from an earlier class or fellow classmates.

Remember to sleep
Sleep is an important aspect in getting the most from your study time.  This isn’t to say that there won’t be long nights with only a few hours of shut eye once in a while, but getting at least some sleep is a key requirement in keeping your mind fresh and able to absorb and properly process the information you are studying.

Find a quiet place
Peace and quiet is another important characteristic needed for optimal studying.  At home, finding a quiet spot might be easier than in a dorm or apartment shared with roommates.  If you find your study time is continually interrupted, consider heading to the library, if the weather is nice you can find a spot outdoors, and as a last resort, you can always move to the area offering the most solitude in the civilized world…the bathroom.

Hit the pits
Taking breaks can either be the path to better study habits or the executioner of your study time.  The key to effective breaks, is limiting their duration.  Breaks are needed to let your mind rest, recover from lengthy study sessions, and to absorb the information you’ve been reviewing.  However, keeping breaks focused and brief is necessary to stay on track with your studies.

Energize yourself
While not involving much physical activity, studying can be amazingly exhausting.  Sometimes you need to re-energize yourself with some brief calisthenics, by washing your face, listening to some loud music — whatever it takes to get the old heart pumping again.

Avoid distractions
There are few better ways to ruin a great study session than through distractions.  Distractions can come in almost any shape or form and be expected or unexpected.  Friends, television, radio, internet, videogames, telephone, and pets, can severely cut into your study time.  Minimize distractions by putting a sign on your door that you are studying or by moving to an area where you won’t be lured by such temptations.

Don’t study in bed
As comfortable and cozy as your bed might be, that’s exactly the problem.  Studying in bed is like dieting in a chocolate factory — not a good idea!  You end up saying, “Oh, I’ll just rest my eyes for a few minutes,” and poof, you wake up hours later, still tired and completely out of study mode.  As hard as it might be to force yourself, find a chair that keeps you upright at a desk or table and get your studying done first, then you can sleep.

Don’t overdo
No, by telling you not to overdo, it doesn’t give you the go ahead to be lazy.  But you have to understand, your body can only handle so much work, and your mind can only absorb so much information at any one time.  Killing yourself studying can affect your health or leave you tired and ineffectual when it comes time to recall what you have learned.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t work hard, but know your limits, and when your study session becomes a bleary-eyed stare at the pages before you, it’s probably time to call it quits.