Study Tips For College Freshmen That Will Make Your Life Easier

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17 minutes
Updated Sep 14, 2021
Study Tips For College Freshmen That Will Make Your Life Easier

College may be a place where you’ll spend the best weeks of your life. Otherside, this period is usually pretty challenging, and you have to get the hang of many disciplines, concepts, relationships, etc. It is not the high school where you can feel relaxed. Your home tasks become more complicated, and your teachers or professors become more demanding.

It doesn’t mean that you have to hit the books all the time, or, vice versa, give up. You just have to develop good study habits that will make your college life easier with baby steps.

Organize Yourself

We want to share with you some useful tips that are necessary not for your college period only, but for regular life as well. When you’re studying, you learn not only specific knowledge from various disciplines. You learn to meet deadlines, communicate with other people, speak to an audience, and so on. And you should know that any goals you want to achieve require you to be organized. 

Self-organization is about taking responsibility, time-management skills, knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Below you’ll find some tips that will help you become more organized. 

Plan in Advance

plan-in-advance

How often do you run into situations when you forget about important assignments and remember about them at the last minute? It is because our memory is not endless, and the more you study, the more challenging it is to keep all that stuff in your head. 

So, you need a convenient calendar where you can save all the dates. Create a wall poster, or install some apps on your phone like Fantastical Calendar, Tiny Calendar, myHomework student planner, Trello, etc. Having all your deadlines in one place, you won’t miss them and will keep calm before test-taking. 

Most digital calendars provide an opportunity to plan not days and weeks only, but months and even semesters. So, develop the plan for your study time according to the college syllabus. You can also develop your own planning system. For example, when it goes about a complicated project, e.g. the coursework, you can divide it into several milestones. Set your own deadlines and add them to the calendar. 

Take Notes

take-notes

Since home tasks are not the only things students should care about, consider buying a planner and take notes when you need to remember the important information. Try not to force yourself, but to make this your hobby. For example, you can choose an interesting planner with a bright cover, funny stationery, etc. 

Remember that you don’t have to write down all the professor's words. Your primary task is to make the note-taking work for you. Practicing and experimenting, you’ll come up with your own convenient system that will make your college life easier. There are some working examples:

  • The Cornell method. Write short and easy summaries with the most important information. Pull out key ideas and concepts. 
  • The mapping method. It works for visual learners who need illustrations to get the point. You need to paint the map with the main topic, and then branch it off to subtopics. 
  • The outlining method. Organize your notes neatly, using headings and bullet points. You’ll have structured information that is easy to digest.
  • The charting method. Divide your paper into several sections and organize facts according to their category.

Trying these methods, you may come up with your own one that will be the most useful. Feel free to experiment and change something if you feel it is better for you. 

Make your Routine Work For You

make-your-routine-work-for-you

Some students think that a study routine is something boring and useless. Think about hours of procrastination when you prefer to clean the room instead of writing an argumentative paper. You can get rid of it with a clear routine, organizing your days and weeks, and knowing your schedule. 

So, what should you do to get your act together? Try to think about the days when you really were productive. What is the best time for you to clean the dishes? And when you’re the most creative? For example, if you are an early riser, you can leave household chores such as washing and cleaning for the evening, and work on your home tasks before class, when your brain is fresh. Owls need more time to wake up in the morning, so you can do some sports and study later.

Don’t Undervalue the Teamwork

If you ask some graduates about their best memories, they are likely to tell you about their college friends. When you're studying, you have the opportunity to make new friends, and, what is no less important, partners. What if you work in study groups to generate creative ideas together? Such collaborations are necessary not only for a better result but for soft skills development as well. You learn to communicate with different people, respect other points of view, look for compromises, etc.

So, if you think that your home tasks don't let you spend more time with friends, it is time to change your approach.

Join or Organize the Study Group

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Ask your fellow students whether they already have some groups to work together. You can also check some notifications on your campus because there may be different clubs for college students. If you haven't found something that might interest you, think about encouraging your friends to work on assignments together.

You can organize your study sessions at home or a coffee shop and kill two birds with one stone: complete your home tasks and spend time with friends. Or organize online sessions via Zoom or Skype to make the whole process easier. It would be great if you gather different people with their talents and knowledge bases so that you can distribute tasks and achieve better results together. However, consider that different people have different learning styles and it may take you some time to set the study environment that will be comfortable for all of you. 

Don't Hesitate To Ask For Help And Feedback

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Many students think that if they missed some course material, it is their fault, and they should find a way to solve this problem themselves. But why don't you ask for help from somebody who has the appropriate knowledge? It can be a mentor, your teacher or professor, or another student, or even a social media group. Feel free to ask questions, and this approach will save you a lot of time that you could waste looking for information and cramming new material. 

Once you have your assignment finished, think about asking someone you respect for feedback. It doesn't mean that you'll have to follow his or her advice. Feedback will provide you with new ideas and insights that you can implement. 

Share Your Knowledge

share-your-knowledge

Though there are some fields where you lack the knowledge and may need professional help, there are surely fields where you feel more confident. So, when you share your study strategies with other people, you receive the opportunity to polish your knowledge, remember more information, and understand it better. When you have to explain complicated concepts in plain English, it is very good for your memorization. Join student clubs and your college social media groups to find people who need help, ask your peers whether they have some issues, and so on. 

Approach Studying Wisely

Along with the best study tips that help you to get better grades, it is essential to choose the right attitude. Don't expect to pass all exams with flying colors when you wait until the last minute to finish the home task, don't take care of your study space, and open the study guide for the first time the night before test-taking.

The next steps will help you to stay more energetic and motivated.

Take Short Pauses

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It is not that easy to stay concentrated when you have to write a long essay, analyze the solid volume of information, come up with a review, and so on. It is especially challenging these days when most students are used to constant notifications on their smartphones, short news, and updates. Psychologists call this “clip thinking”, so don’t think that you’re lazy — all students face this challenge.

What can you do about it? Consider taking short pauses before study sessions. To get started, you can use the Pomodoro technique. It is when you work focused for 25 minutes, and let yourself rest for the next 5 ones. You can download an app on your smartphone or laptop (Be Focused, Flow, Pomodoro.me, etc) to track the time.

Don’t Forget About Enough Rest

dont-forget-about-enough-rest

You may think that you need to learn all the time to achieve better results. A lot of students take pauses only when they don't have another choice. They go to beds when their brains just refuse to work, and it is a grave mistake. 

Our bodies work that way so that they need enough sleep, time outdoors, physical activities, and even thoughtless pastime. Try an experiment: read your textbook in the evening and go sleep on time. You'll be surprised with your knowledge in the morning. It is because your brain has processed all the read information at night. And if you read all night, trying to cram new material, you would feel tired and exhausted. 

Decide on Your Priorities

decide-on-your-priorities

Of course, you would like to be the best in all study disciplines. But it is impossible. It is better to choose one direction and focus on it. What should this direction be? 

If you're an incredible math-problem solver, you can develop your writing skills that are not that perfect and vice versa. Or you may want to get a sports scholarship, and your primary task is to raise a GPA. When you know what you want from the next several years and from your future overall, it becomes easier to define your own priorities.

Dream Big

dream-big

It is necessary to remember that your twenties are the most productive period of your whole life. You have all the opportunities to develop your personality, make new friends, experiment and risk. If you really don't like doing something and spend days waiting for office hours to run out, you can skip it without regrets. Don't spend these years in vain. Take every chance that will bring you to the necessary point: watch Youtube videos, read books, organize events, try internships and volunteering projects. Live your college life to the fullest!

Max Malak
Academic and Business Consultant

You can find me reading Hemingway in the far south of Spain. Fueled by caffeine.