By Hannah Krueger
If you are anything like I was, you have probably noticed that college is a completely different ball game, in every way, from high school. When I started at Graceland in 2012, I thought I would be able to get through my classes without studying, just because that’s what I was used to doing. That quickly changed when I got my first bad test grade. I really had to buckle down and teach myself how to actually study, and that’s what I want to help you do. I want to give you 10 of my tricks to help you successfully study your way through college.
1. Note taking- First off, the best way to make sure you know what you're supposed to be studying is go to class. Maybe even take notes. If you sit there and take notes it means that you are most likely going to be engage and retain more than if you just sit on your phone and zone out. Or, if you are someone who learns better by listening, then ask your professor if you can record the lesson and listen to it later as well.
2. Note cards- I think of studying as trying to memorize a speech or prepare for an interview, which gave me the idea to put the key concepts, terms, formulas, events and names onto flash cards. They are so easy and portable you can take them anywhere, so, while you’re walking to classes, to practice or even when you just have a few minutes of downtime before your next class or activity, you can pull them out and get in a quick study session.
3. Manage your time- Time management is probably one of the most difficult things for us college students because there are so many options of things available for us to do, and it’s so easy to just say, "Oh, I’ll do it later..." But, next thing you know, you have a speech, two papers and a test to study for, all due the next day. You just need to learn to say, "I’ll work for 30 or 40 minutes at a time and then take a little break."
4. Get organized- While it might sound silly, your planner and folders will really be your best friends. When you have so many things going on and getting handed to you, you need to make sure you keep on top of everything and know where and when everything is due. If you stay organized, you won’t have any problems with falling behind.
5. Study buddy- Studying with people from your class can help a lot, because they might understand something that you are struggling with and they can help you out. But, be careful; this can also go the other way. Another great study buddy is your class tutor. This is usually an upperclassman who did very well in the course and your professor feels might be able to present the information in a different way than what they can. Take advantage!
6. Reward yourself- If I have a lot of homework or reading to do, I will use my favorite treats (like Oreo’s or Hershey’s kisses) and say I have to get to "this point" before I can have one. It’s the same way with studying, I tell myself I need to do a solid 30-45 minutes of studying before I get the treat.
7. Not too much caffeine- While this might seem like the perfect idea to keep you going for that all-night study session, it actually doesn’t work. Believe me when I say you will crash hard like a 747 jet hitting the ground. Once you get to about 3 a.m. and your third or fourth cup of coffee, you’re going to still be sleepy no matter what and probably doze off.
8. Move around- When studying, don't sit in one place for too long. While sitting in your room or the library (somewhere quiet and with no distractions) seems like the best option to be able to focus, think again. It’s fine if you want to start there, but maybe once you’re an hour in, change to a new location. Doing this will keep your brain from getting bored and zoning out. Try going outdoors to one of the many benches and tables around campus. The new sounds and surroundings will keep your mind alert and focused on the task at hand.
9. Music- Studying doesn’t have to be quiet. I like to have music playing, but I make sure it’s not distracting. Yes, you can turn on Pandora, but try not to listen to the music you normally do, especially if you’re someone that likes to sing along like I do. So, for me, I try to choose a station that has upbeat music and is even in a language I don’t know. That I know I will stay pumped and move around a little because I may be slightly dancing. Using music will also help you remember things because you might think of the songs during the test.
10. NO social media- I know, I know... You are probably thinking, "How am I supposed to update my friends about how my studying is going?!" It's alright, you can handle not having your phone or personal pages by your side for two or three hours. So, leave the phone in the bag. Getting rid of these distractions will actually allow you to get a very productive session in, and you probably won’t even realize that it took that long to study.