Ten Study Habits for College Students

  1. Search for ways to make the studying fun (i.e. by turning it into a game.  Teach yourself the Montessori way).  I love crosswords.  Unlike word searches, you actually “learn by doing”.  This is great for building vocabulary (most subjects have a lingo of their own, be it computers, engineering, medicine, etc.), because you learn as you create the puzzle, and then learn a second time as you complete it.  It also helps to use the word in a sentence.
  2. Come up with catchy ways to remember things.  I like rhymes and acronyms.  They may seem silly, but no one else will have to know how you remember but you.  It does help to have a creative mind when it comes to studying, as you are essentially becoming your own teacher.  Learning P.E.M.D.A.S. (“Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”) was extremely helpful to me with solving mathematical equations in high school.
  3. Repetition, repetition, repetition.  It takes me about five times of waiting on a customer before I can remember the name that goes with the face.  It also helps to write something down in a notebook, rather than just typing it into a computer.  Illustrative objects, like charts and graphs, are also helpful.
  4. Write!  Learn how to write creative nonfiction, and write on the subject you’re studying, even if you don’t plan on submitting it anywhere.  You will be able to think critically about the subject, rather than just memorize, which will (ironically) help you remember better.  Apply what you know, and study what you don’t.  I learned more (and retained more of what I learned) about Ayn Rand when writing a paper on her, rather than just reading a bio.
  5. Read!  Not just your textbook, but the “For Dummies” books are helping me pass my Computer Concepts class.  Sometimes just reading about the same subject (with the information presented in a different way) will help that light bulb go off.  We all process things differently.  That’s why good teachers are so important.  I took the same subject in high school with two different teachers, which yielded vastly different results.
  6. Be organized.  Keep notes of what exactly you’re having trouble with.  Do what you can, and what you can’t, make a date with your professor to help you.  The more organized you are, the more time they’ll be able to spend helping you, rather than going through things you already know.  Sometimes, all it takes is the answer to one question, as you can’t build a house without first building the foundation.  Also, seek to connect with some of your classmates.  I found a very cheap tutor through e-mailing my entire class.
  7. YouTube.  It’s a great resource for learning just about anything.  Best of all, it’s free.
  8. Ask questions.  Use social media.  I learned how to “age-grade” my work on a Microsoft Word program through a Facebook friend.  This friend, who teaches how to blog on WordPress, taught me how to calculate what age group I was writing for.
  9. Caffeine.  Sometimes, it just helps you focus more.  I was able to knock out several computer projects in one night with the help of one Starbucks espresso.
  10. When the weather is nice, take advantage of it.  We need nutrition (which means lots of water), sunshine, fresh air, adequate and good quality sleep, etc.  Exercise is a bonus.  There is nothing like the natural high after exercise that makes you feel like you can conquer the world.
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