Tips to Succeed as a College Student
Designate specific study and break times.
As your school term begins and your course schedule is set, develop and plan for blocks of study time in a typical week. Blocks ideally are around 50 minutes, but perhaps you become restless after only 30 minutes. Some difficult material may require more frequent breaks. Shorten your study blocks if necessary, but don't forget to return to the task at hand! What you do during your break should give you an opportunity to have a snack, relax, or otherwise refresh or re-energize yourself. For example, place blocks of time when you are most productive: are you a morning person or a night owl?
Dedicate study spaces.
Find a place free from distractions (no cell phone or text messaging!) where you can maximize your concentration. You should also have a back-up space that you can escape to like the library, departmental study center, even a coffee shop where you can be anonymous. A change of venue may also bring extra resources.
Set up weekly reviews.
Weekly reviews and updates are also an important strategy. Each week, on Sunday night, review your assignments, your notes, and your calendar not only for the week but for the upcoming month. You want to be proactive and eliminate the chance of ever falling behind. Be mindful that as deadlines and exams approach, your weekly routine must adapt to them.
Prioritize your assignments.
When studying, get in the habit of beginning with the most difficult subject or task. You'll be fresh, and have more energy to take them on when you are at your best. For more difficult courses of study, try to be flexible: for example, build in reaction time when you can get feedback on assignments before they are due.
Get started early.
The longest journey starts with a single step. Don't procrastinate starting that project: you may realize that there are some things you have not planned for in your process. Details of an assignment are not always evident until you begin the assignment. Projects and essays take time. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to revise and edit.
Postpone unnecessary activities until the work is done.
This can be the most difficult challenge of time management. As learners, we always meet unexpected opportunities that look appealing but then result in poor performance on a test, on a paper, or in preparation for a task. Distracting activities will be more enjoyable later without the pressure of the test, assignment, etc. hanging over your head. Think in terms of pride of accomplishment. Instead of saying "no," learn to say "later."
Identify resources to help you.
Are there tutors? An expert friend? Have you tried a keyword search on the Internet to get better explanations? Are there specialists in the library that can point you to resources? Using outside resources can solve problems and save you time and energy. Thankfully, LVC has many opportunities for academic support, so take advantage of them!
Use your free time wisely.
Have an extra 5, 10, or 15 minutes? Those short periods of time can be very productive, whether you're walking to class, waiting for a friend, etc. Times like these are perfect for routine tasks like flash cards, or if you can concentrate, to read or review a chapter. The bottom line is to put your time to good use.
Review notes and readings just before class.
Is your professor a few minutes late? Did you get to class 10 minutes early? Look over your notes, and skim the assigned readings. You may come across something you don't quite understand, and you can ask to talk about it in class or after class. Reviewing your notes and readings also demonstrates to your teacher that you are interested and are prepared.
Review lecture notes just after class.
Also review lecture material immediately after class. The first 24 hours are critical. You will most likely forget the material if you wait days or weeks to look at it. The more you review, even if it's for 10 minutes, the more the information will "stick" in your mind and the less you will have to study later for the exam!