How to Study at College
Making the transition from high school to college
Effective study skills must be practiced in order for you to improve. It is not enough to simply "think about" studying; you have to actually do it, and in the process use information from what you do to get better. This is the central idea of this page. All that follows depends on this single concept. There is a saying that goes like this: "Practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect." If you want to be an achiever, take this saying to heart.
The Value of a Schedule
Before you even begin to think about the process of studying, you must develop a schedule. If you don't have a schedule or plan for studying, then you will not have any way of allocating your valuable time when the unexpected comes up. A good, well thought out schedule can be a lifesaver. It's up to you to learn how develop a schedule that meets your needs, revise it if necessary, and most important, follow it.
A Schedule Saves Time
All schedules should be made with the idea that they can be revised. A good schedule keeps you from wandering off course. A good schedule, if properly managed, assigns time where time is needed, but you've got to want to do it!
Making Every Hour Count
A schedule should take into account every class, laboratory, lecture, social event, and other work in which you engage. There are givens such as classes and so on that have to be incorporated. You must focus on the other "free time" available and how you will use it. Make a weekly schedule and block off the 24 hour day in one hour increments. Indicate times for classes, labs, lectures, social, and work time. Also block off a period for sleeping each day. With what is left over, plan time for study. This gives you a rough road map of the time available. Of course, you can revise your schedule as circumstances warrant.
When to Study
The problem of when to study is critical. A good rule of thumb is that studying should be carried out only when you are rested, alert, and have planned for it. Last minute studying just before a class is usually a waste of time.
Studying for Lecture Courses
If your study period is before the lecture class, be sure you have read all the assignments and made notes on what you don't understand. If the study period is after the lecture class, review the notes you took during class while the information is still fresh.
Studying for Recitation Courses
For classes that require recitation, such as foreign language, be sure to schedule a study period just before the class. Use the time to practice. Sometimes, practice with others can help sharpen your skills in a before-class study period.
Making and Revising a Schedule
Don't be afraid to revise your schedule. Schedules are really plans for how you intend to use your time. If your schedule doesn't work, revise it. You must understand that your schedule is to help you develop good study habits. Once you have developed them, schedule building becomes easier.