Effective Study Skills for College Success

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An essential factor for college success is time management. College life can be very busy as you juggle your social life, studies, extracurricular activities, work, sleep and many other activities.

The key to maintaining a balanced life and more importantly keeping your studies on track is becoming an expert in time management. This includes a variety of factors:

  1. Plan your schedule

There are many aspects of college life which contribute to your overall success as an individual. One thing to realize is that some aspects have a fixed time while others are flexible. The key to success is to balance the fixed and flexible activities in your schedule so that you are able to optimally carry out your schedule without feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Plan for sufficient study time

For most colleges, the average time required per credit is three hours per week for a course; therefore, by multiplying your credit load by three, you get how much time you need to set aside for studying.

It’s important that your study time covers all the subjects that you are taking so that you do justice to each subject. Different people require different study time allocations, therefore, understand your level of reading and comprehension and make sufficient allocations for any study deficiencies you may have.

  1. Study at a regular time at a regular place

An essential factor in time management is having regular times set to do regular activities. This removes the effort of having to make decisions such as what and when you will study, where you will study and how to get study materials to that particular place.

By having a schedule that clearly indicates what you are studying at what time and in a regular place, your brain instinctively settles to focus on the study time without any unnecessary energy wasted on acclimatizing. Commit to studying regular subjects at regular study times.

  1. Study after your lecture class

You retain what you learned in class when you study your notes within 24 hours after a lecture. An hour spent studying your lecture notes after class is much more effective than spending several hours studying the same material a few days later.

Your memory and retention of material covered is higher and starting assignments as soon as you’ve been given helps you to complete them early enough while retaining the information for longer.

  1. Use odd hours to study during the day

Make use of the scattered odd one or two hour free periods in between lectures to catch up on lecture notes for classes that have just ended. These scattered hours may seem almost negligible but when you add them up, they make valuable study periods that help you assimilate more information.

Plan and effectively establish habits of using these free hours to study and you will have more free time to engage in other activities and recreation during other times in the week.

  1. Employ shorter blocks of study time

Limit your study periods to no more than 2 hours for any one course. Studying for more than 2 hours becomes less effective because you tire more rapidly and your concentration span begins to wane. Maintain study blocks of 30 minutes or 45 minutes but no more than 1.5 hours.

Taking short breaks in between your study blocks and switching to study different course materials helps to keep you alert and active and increase your study efficiency.

  1. Trade time

Make adjustments in your schedule for study times that will be missed due to unexpected events that arise. Decide immediately when you will make up for the lost study time and schedule it for that week. Don’t leave it up to chance as this most likely doesn’t end up getting done.

Be smart with your schedule changes. For instance, you can rotate your weekend evenings to study as you rotate your recreational activities.

  1. Plan for regular review

Your schedule should have a review weekly period where you go through the work in each of your coursework and ensure you are up-to-date. By doing a weekly review on all your subjects, you ensure that you are always up to date and are progressing at the right pace.

  1. Question Answer Format

For your weekly review, organize your notes in form of question and answer formats to help you understand the main ideas of the material you study during the week. This regular converting of ideas into questions and answers can help you try and predict what examination questions your instructor may ask.

  1. Keep good notes for lectures and assignments

Carefully organized and complete notes are an essential factor for college success. Well kept notes are an excellent basis for your regular reviews. Also, try and capture key ideas during lectures in your own words.

As you do your reading, watch for headings and phrases highlighted in bold to give you clues to the main ideas in your notes. Carefully note what your assignments are and when they are due to ensure that you deliver all that is required for your assignment in good time.

Traps of Studying

These are some traps that college students find themselves in when it comes to studying and how to overcome them.

  1. Not knowing where to begin

Make a list of what you need to do and break your workload into manageable chunks. Don’t try and do everything at once. Take control, prioritize and schedule your time realistically. Don’t skip classes as exams approach.

  1. Finding studying boring

Take an active approach as you read. Do not read passively because you are more likely to miss important points and ideas. Take notes and underline important concepts as you ask yourself what is important to remember about a particular section.

  1. When information is not sinking in

We remember things that are important to us, therefore, elaborate as you come upon new information. Link new information to something you already know. Reduce information to chunks so that it is simplified and more meaningful. Use mnemonics to change abstract information to more meaningful words and phrases to help you remember more effectively.

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