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No matter which major you choose, or what your career goals are, you will find that you need to develop and implement effective study habits in order to enjoy a successful college experience. While this may be a time of independence and personal growth, it is also a moment in your life where you need to have a high degree of accountability and recognize the role that you play in your own accomplishments.

Learning how, when, and why you should study can help you transform into the student you always knew you could be.

The Basics of Effective Studying

When you enroll in a college degree program, you must adapt to an entirely different style. In many ways, college life is much less structured than high school. You can select when and how you will take your courses, allowing you to balance your studies along with a job or personal responsibilities.

During this time, it is important to prioritize the basics when it comes to studying. Regardless of the study strategies that work best for you, you will find that good study habits help you continue on the path toward success. To make the most of your study time, you will need to stay organized, plan ahead, and find a study routine that works for you.

The Importance of Good Notetaking

Whether you are taking virtual courses or attending classes in person, note-taking is a critical part of any college course. Taking notes in class helps you stay focused throughout the lecture, retain the information, and gives you material to look back on when you are studying. According to the Princeton Review, you can take better notes in college by:

  • Sticking with the old-fashioned route and taking notes by hand in a notebook.
  • Labeling your notes, so you know where to find specific information later.
  • Recording more than just important facts and figures. You will want to include additional context that explains why that information is important.
  • Summarizing your notes at the end of a lesson.

Time Management Skills for College Students

One of the most critical study skills for college students is time management. The National Society of High School Scholars notes that students who can manage their time well are more likely to succeed academically, be more productive, and manage their stress better. You can improve your time management skills in college by creating a study schedule, utilizing technology to set reminders and alerts, and making self-care a priority.

The Role of Organization in Study Success

In many respects, organization is the foundation for success while studying. When you are organized, you are less likely to forget due dates and better able to balance the various responsibilities you have at any given time. Organized people do not feel as frazzled or stressed because they know where their materials are and have a plan to tackle their studies.

College students should strive to get and stay organized, as this is a critical life skill that will translate into professional success in the future. According to Indeed, college students can improve their organizational skills by investing in a planner that works well for their organizational style, creating a calendar, making a to-do list on a daily or weekly basis, and designing a study space where all materials and resources can be stored.

Exploring Various Study Techniques

All students have individual learning styles, and understanding your own learning style can help you discover a studying technique that works well for you. The best approach to discovering the technique that is right for you is to try out various study methods and see which fits best with your routine. Some research-based study techniques that college students may find effective include:

  • Spacing out your study sessions throughout the week. This provides much-needed mental breaks between study sessions.
  • Giving yourself a pre-test before an exam to see how well you know and understand the material.
  • Paraphrasing information after you read it to better retain the main idea of the text.

The Concept of Active Studying

The traditional approach to education has often relied on passive learning, which happens when a student reads a text to memorize the information and ultimately reiterate it during an exam. While passive learning promotes knowledge acquisition, it does not always result in deep learning that can be applied in real-world settings.

Active studying, on the other hand, requires a student to interact and engage with the material in a way that fosters deep learning and conceptual understanding. These are some of the active studying strategies that you could try:

  • Explaining material to a friend using your own words.
  • Writing down questions that you have as you are reading new material.
  • Considering how the material relates to something you have experienced in your own life.
  • Participating in a discussion-based study group.

Making Use of Flashcards

Flashcards are a timeless study tool that have been utilized by college students for decades — and with good reason. Time and again, students have found that they can retain information better and reiterate it more clearly and effectively when they study using flashcards. Designing and creating flashcards will help you maximize the effectiveness of this critical study tool. You can best use flashcards for studying by making fresh flashcards for each exam, following the one-question-per-card rule, and repeating the information on the flashcards out loud while you are studying.

The Power of Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a technique that can help you better understand the way you think and improve information retention over time. You can utilize mind mapping for a specific lesson within a course or for the course topic more broadly. You build the mind map by writing the central theme of your map in the center of the paper and continuing to add ideas and concepts that you associate with the theme. Through mind mapping, you can begin to associate specific keywords with the concept you are studying and better understand the connections you are making to the material. In addition, it can help you organize and sort your thoughts.

Implementing the SQ3R Method

The SQ3R method is a renowned reading comprehension and study strategy that can help you better learn new material and retain it in the long-term. It is a simple five-step process that students of all levels can easily implement as part of their study routine. The steps are surveying, questioning, reading, reciting, and reviewing.

What Is the Study Cycle?

The Study Cycle is a framework for learning that can help you distribute your studying over the course of the semester and reduce the stress associated with studying. The five steps of the Study Cycle are:

  1. Preview the material
  2. Attend the class
  3. Review your notes
  4. Study the information provided
  5. Check your work

By relying on this framework, you can avoid the common pitfall of cramming for an exam at the last second. The Study Cycle improves results while helping you retain the knowledge in the months and years ahead.

Creating a Conducive Study Environment

Once you have developed a sense of which study strategies work best for you, you can establish a routine that allows you to successfully balance your course load. The first step to enacting your study routine is to create a space to study that is peaceful, quiet, and comfortable.

Importance of a Dedicated Study Space

At the beginning of the semester, you should carve out a special place in your home or on campus where you can always go to study. By designating one space as your study area, your mind begins to associate that area as the place to be quiet, study, and learn. A well-designed space that includes plenty of natural light, comfortable seating, and an organized work area will help you to be more focused and intentional while studying.

How to Eliminate Distractions

College life is filled with distractions. From the endless notification pings on your phone to the enticing social opportunities that exist nearly every night of the week, it can be hard to stay focused on your studies. Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate distractions, especially when you are studying. Consider using a white noise machine while you work to drown out distracting sounds, put your phone on silent, and only open browser tabs on your computer that are relevant to your coursework.

Why Changing Study Spots Can Be Beneficial

While the most reliable study tips recommend that you study in a consistent, designated space, there are some benefits to switching it up occasionally. By changing spaces, you may find that you feel more relaxed or have a fresh outlook on the material. However, you should still try to stick to quiet areas that are free from distraction, even when you are moving outside your normal study zone.

Coping With Study-Related Challenges

Studying is a fluid process, so you may sometimes find that your study routine is disrupted or the strategies that you typically rely on are not helping in one subject area. By being aware of the common studying challenges that college students experience, you can actively work to avoid these pitfalls and adapt accordingly.

Dealing With Procrastination and Maintaining Motivation

Many college students fall victim to procrastination at some point in their college careers. Sometimes, it just feels easier to put off the tasks that you should be working on now. If procrastination is a problem for you, you should try to readjust your mindset by creating a short list of small tasks that can be easily accomplished in a day and make sure that you finish those tasks. The feeling of accomplishment will be so rewarding that you will be less tempted to procrastinate in the future.

Managing Exam Stress Effectively

Exam stress is real — and totally understandable. However, it is important to keep perspective when it comes to your exams. Know that one exam will likely not determine the entire outcome of the course, and there are resources on campus available to help you effectively manage exam-related stress.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure in Exams

Exam anxiety and fear of failure can paralyze your study routine and ultimately have a detrimental impact on your exam results. If you feel crippled by the fear of failing an exam, the best thing you can do is try to focus on the positive. Remind yourself that college is a learning experience, and even a less-than-stellar grade on an exam is an opportunity for growth and improvement.

How Does Exercise Improve Study Efficiency?

Physical activity and exercise are critical to your health and well-being during your college years. Exercise helps you to stay physically fit and can reduce the stress and anxiety of pursuing a college degree.

Recently, researchers have discovered that not only is exercise beneficial for your physical and emotional health, but it also can help improve your academic outcomes. A study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science notes that students who memorize facts while exercising are more likely to retain and recall a greater amount of information than those who study immediately after exercising or without exercise. While multitasking can sometimes be detrimental when studying, it turns out that exercising and studying at the same time could actually improve retention.

Find the Support You Need at Post University’s Center for Academic Success

At Post University, we recognize that college is a time of transition and adjustment for all our students. To meet the unique and ever-changing needs of learners, we have created the Center for Academic Success where you can benefit from a wide range of services at no additional cost. These include one-on-one tutoring services, interactive webinars, and more.

For more information about student life at Post University and what you can expect from our degree programs, contact our academic advising office today.