June 8, 2011
Real Life College Student Blog: A Beginner’s Guide to College Study Skills
Today’s edition of the Real Life College Student blog is by Utah college student, Zachary Stickney, from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Zach entered the college world through the Upward-Bound pre-college program and is currently a senior studying Political Science. For an in-depth description of Zach’s admirable transition from high school to college and his college experience, check out this blog from WSU, “Once-Struggling High School Student Excelling in College.” Last week, Zach shared his knowledge, know-how and tips about working while in college. This week, Zachary elaborates on one of the most necessary “evils” of college. Studying! Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in high school any more.
From my high school days I remember a lot of friends bragging about how they could pass any class without studying. These are usually the kids who more or less breezed through high school, taking only the classes that were required and not bothering attempting the more challenging pre-college courses. I have to give them credit: they did manage to get by with A’s and B’s with a minimal effort. They walked on graduation day like everyone else.
But the problem with their habit of ignoring study time is that it lured them into a false sense of security. Some of them figured that they could get by with the same habits in college, and even those that knew more studying would be required had already fell into the habit of ignoring it. Habits always die hard, and bad habits are the hardest to break.
So, without further ado, here’s a short guide to help you build the good study habits that can lead to easier nights and less frustration and anxiety while in college.
Step 1: Go to Class
This probably seems obvious (and it should be), but the first step is to actually bother to go to class. And I don’t mean just showing up. If your plan is to sit in the back row doodling or playing World of Warcraft, you might as well just stay home. In my experience, you learn best if you sit in the front row of the class. This might seem weird if you’ve never done it before, but sitting in the front row is helpful in a lot of ways. First, you’re less likely to fall asleep because you’ll be afraid of the professor thinking you’re a slacker. Second, you’ll be able to see and hear the presentation much better. Last, you won’t be distracted by other students doodling or playing World of Warcraft. Be sure to take good notes and ask questions when something isn’t clear. Even asking after class is a good idea if you’re nervous to speak up. Just be sure your questions are answered.
Step 2: Take Advantage of Tutors
One of the toughest parts of college comes in finishing your general education requirements. This isn’t always out of the difficulty of the classes – sometimes it’s simply apathy toward a subject you think you won’t use. No matter your feelings toward them though, they still need to be finished. Fortunately, most colleges have extensive tutoring options available, including math labs, writing labs, supplemental instructors, and a student support services center. These services are all paid for by your student fees, so in truth you’re cheating yourself out of some money if you don’t take advantage of them. If you’re ever struggling, get in touch with one of these groups immediately and make a point to study with them at regular intervals. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.
Step 3: Study Regularly at Home
As glorified as cramming abilities are, they’re really one of the least efficient ways to get things done. Getting your reading done or writing essays in piecemeal is the best way to work. If you can, try to set aside a specific time of day just for reading, say, something like 30 minutes to an hour a day.
If you can follow these three steps, you’ll find you’re learning more, retaining more knowledge, and opening up more time to do things you enjoy without having the anxiety of an assignment on your mind. At long last, you’ll be able to keep your mind on the things that matter most. Like doodling or playing World of Warcraft. – Zachary Stickney
If you have any questions or comments for Zachary, please leave them in the comment box below!
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