Are you worried about making the transition from high school to your freshman year of college successfully? This blog post covers five study habits that will help you do your best as a college freshman.
Study Habits to Develop Now
It only takes a week or two of being a college student to realize that there's a major difference between the academic demands of high school and that of a university. Your information is delivered differently, your understanding of that information is assessed differently, and you're required to operate on a much higher level of independence. In high school, your parents and teachers most likely stayed on top of you, making sure that you got your schoolwork done. But as a college freshman, you'll need to learn how to motivate yourself - so the sooner you develop these five study habits, the easier and more successful your transition to college will be.
1. Learn How to Focus on Your Studies
One of the most important things you can do to succeed in college is to learn to focus on your studies while the campus around you is teeming with activity and stimuli. Even your dorm room will be full of distractions like roommates, phone notifications, and other noises. As soon as you can, learn what you need to do to adjust your environment so that it's possible for you to focus. You might choose to:
- Go to the library.
- Use noise-canceling headphones.
- Diffuse essential oils like lemon or peppermint that aid in concentration.
- Use the Pomodoro technique for time management.
Whatever it takes, maintaining focus is a key study habit.
2. Identify What to Study
Knowing what to study is as important as studying. In fact, it might even be more important as you don't want to waste hours and hours of time memorizing unnecessary information. Make it a study habit to learn which of the concepts you learn in each class are most likely to appear on a test. Some professors make it easy for you by providing a study guide. Others will give you a hint if you come to office hours.
If you don't have either of these options, learn to pay attention to:
- Which information is repeated most often.
- Which information your professor chooses to discuss.
- Which information appears on hand-outs or in PowerPoint presentations, or is emphasized in assigned texts.
Conversely, avoid memorizing everything that your professor goes on a tangent about. Learn to know what's important and what isn't.
3. Set Stepping-Stones
Often, college assignments and exams can be overwhelming in scope. They can range from reading hundreds of pages, to writing 20-page papers, to taking one exam that covers most of the information you learned in a semester-long class. But in reality, most major projects can be broken down into smaller stepping stones that make a task much more doable. For example, writing a 20-page paper in a week might sound impossible until you:
- Do research (Days 1-3).
- Develop an outline (Day 4).
- Write a first draft based on your outline (Day 5).
- Edit your draft, request instructor feedback, and write the final draft (Days 6-7).
Approached in this way, that 20-page paper seems much more doable.
4. Find Your Personal Study Method
This one we can't emphasize enough: every person has a study method (or two or three) that make for a good fit for his or her particular learning style and preference. Take the time now to learn what study approach works for you so that you can take advantage of it during your freshman year and throughout the rest of your college career.
Some methods include:
- Using flashcards.
- Creating practice tests.
- Teaching the information to somebody else.
- Recording and listening to lectures.
Explore these methods now so that you can find the study habit that will help you the most in the future.
5. Know When You Need Help
Like we said before, it's true that college studies require a high degree of independence, but you don't always have to go it alone. After all, a university is essentially a community designed specifically to help you learn. Make it a study habit to know when you need help, what kind of help you need, and how to get it.
- Do you prefer to work on a take-home final with a study group?
- Do you prefer to have a TA's feedback on a paper before turning it in?
- Do you find it helpful to pull the occasional all-nighter with a trusted peer?
Whatever the case, you'll probably need help at some point in your freshman year. Learn how to ask for it now and make the most of that help.
If you can develop these study habits now, you'll be one step ahead when it comes to setting yourself up for a successful freshman year of college. Good luck.
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