For many students seeking a higher education, the journey begins when they choose the right college or university to meet their educational goals and obtain a student loan, but this is only the first step. Students must also be prepared so that they are able to retain and make the most of what they are taught. College can be an overwhelming time that is filled with new experiences and distractions, but anyone can learn the skills needed to improve their study habits and receive the best education possible.
Proper time management is a crucial skill for every college student, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Busy class schedules, campus events, and socializing are just a few of the things that make people lose track of time and procrastinate. Prioritizing, setting achievable goals, and taking each task one step at a time are some of the best ways to begin managing time properly. This ensures that the most important task is started first and that one does not become overwhelmed by attempting to do too much at one time. Staying organized, whether using a computer or a binder, is also extremely important, as it prevents students from wasting time looking for notes or other items that are needed to study or complete an assignment. A checklist can also be beneficial in helping students see what needs to be done and what has already been completed. Additionally, students will need to be well-rested. Fatigue can drastically impact one’s ability to concentrate and manage time efficiently.
Effective Listening and Note-Taking
Lectures can be long, and depending on the subject, they can also be tedious. Sitting through a long lecture may cause some students to get lost in more interesting thoughts. Other students may have difficulty following the teaching styles of certain instructors. But the point of attending lectures is to learn, which means that students not only need to listen but also take notes that can help them study. To improve one’s listening skills, it is important to start the lecture with an open mind and positive attitude about the class. One should be well-rested and fed, as hunger can lead to distraction and an inability to concentrate. Students should also sit in a spot where they are facing the speaker and can see their eyes, ideally where there are minimal distractions from others in the class.
Prior to the lecture, the student should read material that’s likely to be discussed and write down any questions that they may have. During the lecture, focus on taking good notes and listening to what is being said. Before the class begins, set up a notepad or laptop so that it is ready for note-taking. If taking notes by hand, ink is preferable to pencil. Notes should be dated, with the course title included for organization purposes. One should not try to write down everything that is heard, only pertinent information. While taking notes, use shorthand whenever possible and use your own words to convey what is being said.
Test taking is hardly a new concept for college students, but a few changes in mindset can improve how well they perform. The night before an exam, students should avoid last-minute studying and get a full night’s sleep instead. It’s also important to eat a healthy breakfast. Both fatigue and hunger can make it difficult for students to focus and think clearly.
When it comes time to take the test, don’t rush. Arrive at the testing site early and take a moment to relax. When the instructor arrives, students should both listen to instructions that are being given and read every written instruction with care. Determine the easiest section of the test and start there first, taking care to set a pace that will allow for the completion of more difficult and time-consuming questions later. If a question is too difficult, opt to skip it and move forward. Often, the right answer is in the details, which are easy to overlook when one is feeling rushed. Avoid common mistakes such as looking for patterns in multiple-choice questions, changing answers, and overthinking questions. Keep in mind that the first answer that comes to mind is often the correct one.
Strong essay-writing skills can definitely give college students an advantage. To write an above-average essay, one should define and familiarize themselves with the topic. If there are any questions about the topic, ask the instructor early on for clarification. Then, don’t procrastinate: Start the process early to ensure that there is enough time to research, organize, write, and edit. When writing the essay, include an introduction that helps to focus the topic and orient the reader so that they are interested in following the discussion. But one does not need to start at the intro when composing the essay: If it is easiest, start instead by writing the body or conclusion first. Keep in mind that the first draft is just that: a draft. This draft will need to be reviewed and revised several times. Often, it is helpful to walk away from an essay for a day or two before reviewing it again. This allows the writer to edit it with fresh eyes.