Developing Good Study Habits

I don’t think I need to go into too much detail as to why studying is important. When you go into college, it becomes a way of life: you read over the material, take notes, create a study plan, and study…a lot. It’s not something you can take lightly, especially when you begin taking higher level courses, which are more demanding than your entry level courses like Comm 1 and Statistics. The trick is developing those habits.

Read Over the Course Material

At the beginning of each semester, it’s common practice for professors to hand out syllabi– that’s plural for syllabus, for those of you who don’t know. This typically includes required material, guidelines of the course, and a tentative schedule, which may change through the semester (so pay attention!) You know that $200 textbook you had to purchase at the beginning of the semester? Read it. Look over the tentative schedule that your professor gave you and read over the material a week before the lecture.

Take Concise, Meaningful Notes

This takes time to figure out, but you’ll eventually learn that everything your professor says isn’t important. There’s an art to note-taking, and mastering that art comes from learning how to discern what’s important from what’s not. What would be important? Key terms, definitions, step-by-step instructions, example problems (for math), any advice that may make things easier for you.

And remember that your professor is on a 45-minute time constraint, so he won’t be able to slow down just so that you can catch up. This is where the advice of taking concise, meaningful notes comes in. Learning to both write shorthand and doing so in a way that you’ll be able to cipher what you wrote a month later comes with knowing the art of note-taking.

Form a Solid Study Plan

An important tool to have on you is a planner. Either buy one or pick up one for free at the bookstore (I think that’s where you find them), I don’t care. Plan your time week by week and be sure to note any important dates, such as tests or upcoming assignments, as soon as they’re announced.

From there, pick any open slots where you can spend a good couple hours reviewing the material. The best would be a specific time of day where you can study consistently, creating a good routine. Organize and consolidate your notes. Go over everything that you’re expected to know before the next test. Some study methods work better for some than for others, figure out what works best for you and stick to it.

Practice, Practice, Practice

In order to master, well, anything, you must practice what you’ve learned. Whether it be working problems out of the book for calculus, drawing picture using techniques you’ve been taught in art, reading books based around the era you’re studying in history, writing new programs based on what you’ve learned in C++, or creating a short story using storytelling techniques gained from creative literature, practice will always ensure better retention of everything you’ve learned.

And this doesn’t just pertain to school either. Becoming better at whatever it is that you do in your career requires continual study and practice.