3 Must-Have Skills
For many bright college freshmen, their first day of class also happens to be the first time they’ve really had to crack a book or flex their cranial muscles in order to make the grade or impress the instructor. If you’re one of the many intellectually gifted students who breezed through high school without ever being truly challenged, then you’re in for somewhat of a surprise when you enter the doors of your university of choice. To ensure that you’re not completely unprepared, consider these top tips guaranteed to give you a crash course in studying, college-style:
- Know Your Learning Style
There’s not one right way of studying, but there may be one right way for you. Everyone is wired a bit differently, after all. While some students need absolute quiet to concentrate, others prefer to listen to music. Your friends may prefer to study in groups to discuss the material while you may process information better on your own. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you may find pacing or tapping your pencil on your desk to improve your focus. At the risk of driving your roommate crazy, embrace these study habits that you know work for you.
- Take Notes
Never took notes in high school? Well, it’s likely that you did so well without the need to study because your teacher did all of the hard work for you. She probably went over the same material time and time again before the test, and she may have even prepared elaborate study guides for you. Don’t expect this same treatment from your college professors. There will be lectures. They will be long. During these lectures, take notes, not so that you can look like you’re doing something but so that you can study them after class. Simply re-reading your notes a couple of times to jog your memory can do wonders when it comes to developing a comprehensive understanding of the course material. If you find that you’re having trouble taking notes and listening at the same time, consider recording the lectures, or ask your professor if he posts them online.
- Make a Schedule
If you did study in high school, it was likely the night before the test, right? Rest assured that this cramming method will not serve you well in your college level courses. While a good percentage of high school assessments test your ability to simply regurgitate factual information, college exams ask you to use your higher order thinking skills to apply what you’ve learned (and hopefully taken copious notes on) in class. This requires a deep understanding of the content, one that can only be developed through regular review of the material. Schedule a daily time to review your notes for each class, and stick to your schedule. You’ll be surprised at how much more efficient you can learn in 30-minute chunks rather than during an all-night cram session. You may find that keeping a regular study routine is difficult, especially if your friends are more interested in improving their social lives than their grades. Surround yourself with smart, like-minded people who are serious about school to ward off this temptation. Just remember to network too. Isolating yourself completely can backfire when it’s time to put that college degree to work at an actual job.
If some of these study techniques sound rigorous, it’s because they are. College is tough, but it can also be very rewarding. If you choose a major you’re genuinely interested in, then you’ll find studying to be a lot less painful, and you may even discover that you enjoy being challenged—for once.