Studying is a natural and expected part of obtaining an education. Although incoming students have typically been studying for years while in high school, the college experience can be difficult. Because it is a new experience, even students who have completed an online degree program and are working toward a graduate degree may find it more of a challenge to study in a college setting. In addition to more intense and difficult classes, a student is also subject to more activities, a greater population of fellow students, and an environment that is unfamiliar. While some students adjust without any real problems, others may find it more difficult. For that reason, it is important that students listen to and learn from the many study tips that are available to them.
Because of the often busy nature of college, students must understand when the best times are to study. One way to do that is to consider what time of day they tend to learn best in. Some individuals retain information better in the mornings, while others find that studying and learning are easier at night. In addition, they should examine their schedule to determine when study time can be added. For example, moments spent waiting are an opportunity to study. People can get into the habit of carrying study materials with them, such as index cards with notes written on them or notes on a smartphone. Use these items during times that are spent waiting for a friend to arrive for a lunch date or for one’s car to be serviced. Although these may seem like short moments in time, the amount of study time can quickly add up. It’s also helpful to break up study time into several sessions, starting with the most complex or uninteresting subject first.
There are many places for students to study, such as a coffee shop, a quiet spot on campus, or a specific outdoor space. The key is for students to find the location that best suits their study habits and needs. Libraries are a common study spot for students at colleges across the country. They are widely recognized as quiet spaces that have many of the amenities necessary for studying, including research materials if needed. Wherever a student chooses as their preferred spot, it should be a place that they routinely turn to specifically for this purpose. This is important so that one’s mind will eventually associate the setting with studying, making it easier to focus and actually study. What one shouldn’t do is pick a location that is too comfortable. A place that is too relaxing can allow one’s mind to wander or even lull someone into falling asleep. For some people, and a study group may be in their best interest. In these cases, where a person studies will depend on where the group meets.
Distractions come in many forms, and for a successful college experience, it is crucial that one learns to manage this common problem. A person can be distracted by their own thoughts, by their surroundings and other people, or by technology. Where television and radios were once the greatest technological distractions for students, the Internet and smartphones are now the worst things that steal one’s focus. Turn digital devices off when possible and store them away until finished studying. If the Internet is needed to study, there are programs that one can use while studying that will block the things that generally divide their attention. For individuals who study best with music, keeping it low and soft is one solution, although it may still be a slight distraction. Ask friends and family not to call or visit during study times, and get in the habit of refusing to speak or listen to anyone who interferes with this time. Frequent daydreaming or obsessing over other problems can also stand in the way of a successful study session. Getting more sleep or moving to a quieter study area can help in some situations, but if problems are making it difficult to study, it may be helpful to learn stress management techniques or speak with a counselor.
It’s normal to get confused or stuck on an assignment or a subject that’s being studied. It is just as easy to become frustrated by an inability to overcome an obstacle. When this happens, it is important for students to realize that they aren’t the only ones who’ve had this problem, nor are they likely to be the last. The first step to overcoming this feeling of being stuck is to calm down. Students should ask themselves if the project or assignment is as bad as it first seemed or if frustration is hindering a better understanding or forward progress. By taking a moment to stop what one is doing, a person stops wasting valuable time. Instead of repeating the same approach to a difficult situation or topic, it would be more useful to find a different course of action or method of study. In addition, it may allow a student to more clearly understand the problem. There are times when the sheer size or scope of an assignment or task seems overwhelming. When this is the case, it may be wise to consider a different approach that allows it to be broken into smaller, more manageable parts. When using this approach, begin with a part of the project that appears simple, as this will help build confidence and may aid in a better understanding of the assignment as a whole. Keep in mind that when studying, the appearance of one’s notes or the techniques that one uses do not need to be perfect, only the final outcome.