Rhonda Cotham, Director of Student Success
Analyze your study strategies. What's going right and wrong? What do you feel like you are doing well? How did you develop these strengths and good study habits? What do you need to improve-what new habits do you need to adopt?
Setting Aside the Time You Need
Plan on spending 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour you are in class (not per course!) Make it a priority-write down time commitments in your planner or calendar (class time, lab time, library time, time for reading assignments and homework, etc.) Make sure you leave room for travel time, eating, and sleeping! Read your syllabi throughout the semester. Look at how assignments and exams are weighted and prioritize your work and determine the amount of time you need to devote to each project.
How Do You Learn Best?
How do you best absorb and process information? Is it aural, visual or tactile/kinesthetic. How do you adapt your study habits to reflect your learning style? Options include:
- Tape recording lectures, engaging in classroom discussions, reading aloud
- Converting notes to graphic representations, highlighting different subjects or concepts in different colors, leaving white space in between topics
- Typing out handwritten notes, creating flash cards, studying while exercising, acting out concepts
Things to Know Before You Tackle the Books
How will I be expected to show understanding of this material? Will it be through research papers, presentation, exams or quizzes? Determine how you will read and review textbook material, take notes and develop study guides Ask yourself, "What other materials will I need in order to study?" Keep your materials organized. It can help maintain motivation
Making the Most of Your Reading
Look at syllabi - plan ahead and schedule time for reading assignments. Preview a chapter before you begin reading - look at headings, graphics, questions and summaries Write down questions in your notebook, and leave room to answer them while reading Highlight key terms and concepts-sparingly! Summarize at the end of each section to insure comprehension. Take frequent breaks - but not too frequent! If studying multiple subjects, start with the most difficult one first, and have enough of a mental break in between to avoid confusion.
When and Where To Study
Analyze your study routine and environment. What is the best time of day to study? When do you have the most energy and ability to retain information (not when do you normally try to squeeze it in)? How do you reserve this time of day for studying? What do you need, or not need?
Noise level - Do you work better with music or silence?
Food or drink - Does it keep your energy up or keep you distracted?
Location - Are you more comfortable at home or is too comfortable? Do you need an authority figure present?
Structure - Should you be sitting at a desk or spread out on the floor? Should you study indoors or outdoors?
Numbers -Do you study best alone, with a partner or in a group?
Develop a study ritual that allows for spaced study sessions instead of "cramming."
Keeping Balanced, Keeping Sane
You'll need to consider your other responsibilities, along with course selection, when registering each semester. Your work schedule may have to be adjusted, or you may need to pursue a more flexible job while in school (or supplement income with financial aid). Family and friends need to be made aware of your educational commitment; you'll need their help and support and for them to be respectful of your time. Trying to rush through your education may actually extend your time here (re-taking courses, becoming overwhelmed and needing to withdraw, etc.)
It takes the time it takes - remember it's a 2-year or 4-year degree in theory only.