Studying has never been my strong suit. I didn’t prioritize studying in my early years of school because I never really needed to. My high school teachers made sure that I had all the material I needed to complete my assignments. College was a different story. I lacked the responsibility to keep my schoolwork in check during my first semester at Midway University because I had no one to hold me accountable but myself. My old method of studying was not going to work. Thankfully, I learned from my mistakes and found a better way to study and improve my GPA.
Here are my top five tips for staying on track in college:
1. Keep your syllabus.
Professors always hand out a syllabus on the first day of class. KEEP IT and READ IT! Think of a syllabus as a roadmap to success. Everything you need for that class is in there- including all your assignments and test dates. By gathering all your semester’s syllabi and keeping them in a folder, you can plan ahead for your assignments and get your work done faster. If your professor does not print out a copy for you, make sure to log into Moodle and print it out.
2. Use a planner.
Most planners have a monthly, weekly, and daily sections. Which allow you to keep everything in one place. In the monthly section, I write down important dates like tests, final projects, and campus events. At the start of each week I like to sit down and plan my to-dos. For example, I know each week I have a chapter of reading to complete for each class and two quizzes I have to take. I also include other errands like going to the grocery store or, if I have an event that week I add my plan of action. After I write down my weekly tasks, I divide them into my daily schedule. When you are planning for your daily tasks, be sure to be specific. Instead of “do class reading” write down “read chapter 3 for Art Appreciation”. You are more likely to complete your tasks if you know exactly what you need to do. At the end of the day, you can feel the sweet satisfaction of being productive by checking off your completed tasks.
3. Handwrite your notes.
I know that technology is used for everything these days and it seems logical to type out your notes during class, but the pen and paper method is far superior. When the PowerPoint deck from my classes was made available online, I would print them out for the test and re-read them over and over again. After some time, my professor announced that the PowerPoints would no longer be available online. She encouraged us to take our own notes, stating that handwriting the notes during lecture one time is equivalent to reading them over seven times online. So, I took her word for it and gave it a try. Immediately I realized that I retained the material so much better than before and my test grades began to improve.
4. Discover your learning style.
I am sure that we have all taken those quizzes to assess how we learn individually. I first took those tests in high school at that time when I was very immature and my grades were not a huge concern. The tests indicated I was a visual learner. I did not take it seriously because I hated taking the time to write my notes in class. I decided to try learning the auditory way and attempted to pay attention during my class. That method did not work for me in college. Once I started to take my time studying, I thought about what those tests said in high school. I took my recent notes from a lecture and started to color-code them. I realized that the more I could see, the more I could retain. If you want more information about how to study based on your learning style, Learning-Styles-Online has more in-depth advice. Once you figure out your learning style, you can develop more efficient study habits.
5. Take advantage of on-campus tutoring services.
I strongly suggest utilizing the Midway Student Success Center in the library for academic support. Midway offers excellent resources to ensure your academic success. My personal favorite is one-on-one tutoring. Math does not come easy for me (and it probably never will) but luckily, I was able to get the help I needed to pass my math class. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Every student struggles at some point during their college career. Midway’s tutors are your peers so they understand your frustration and know how to help. Have any questions regarding your academic journey? The Student Success Center has the answers! Whether you are a freshman and just getting started or a senior getting ready to graduate, help is waiting on the first floor of the library.
Developing studying habits does not come easy. At first, each method will be trial and error until you find the right one that works for you. Hopefully, you will develop these healthy study habits at the beginning of your college career; unlike me, who learned to study three semesters later.
Written by Hala Ayyash