You’re Not in High School Anymore

A few pointers to tweak your study habits

For many college freshmen, the difference between studying in high school and studying in college is shocking. Even in honors high school classes, teachers remind students of upcoming tests, give daily assignments, and work with them individually.

But college involves large classes and few daily assignments; midterms and finals are a large percentage of the course grade; and the class syllabus may be the only reminder of due dates. Studying is a challenge. No matter what your reason for going to college, making decent grades and passing your classes are a must. So—from the beginning—you must approach your studies seriously.

  • Find a quiet, distraction-free place where you can concentrate. Try the library. Your dorm room may be okay, especially during designated “quiet hours.”
  • Use a daily planner or online calendar to keep track of due dates and exam dates.
  • Set a daily schedule. Devoting two hours of study for every hour spent in class will help you avoid waiting until too late to start researching for a major paper, reading the many chapters covered on the next test, or studying for a major exam.
  • Choose a course schedule that allows an hour between classes. Reviewing prior notes or reading corresponding chapters just before class helps you understand the lecture or discussion. Or immediately after a class—with the material fresh on your mind—review lecture notes, revise notes that you jotted during class, and read corresponding text material.
  • Don’t get behind. You’ll be expected to read over 100 pages weekly for each lecture course. Don’t procrastinate, and read carefully when you read. Don’t just highlight points in the book; writing notes will help you concentrate, and you’ll be more likely to remember the information.
  • Take good lecture and reading notes. Focus on important points that may be covered on the exam. Writing notes helps you remember the material.
  • Consolidate text notes and lecture notes. Lectures and reading material usually supplement one another; on exams you must demonstrate your understanding of all the information.
  • Ask for help. Getting to know your instructors and other students in your class makes it easier to ask questions. Attend study groups; it’s amazing how much students learn from one another.
  • Make flash cards out of index cards. Write the word or question on one side; write the definition or the answer on the other side. Look at the word or the question, trying to answer as if it were a test question. Turn the card over and check your answer. Those you answered correctly go in your “success” stack; if your answer was wrong, put the card in your “review” stack. Your notes will be more manageable and less overwhelming, especially right before a test, when you’re concentrating on especially difficult material.
  • Take time to relax. If you spend all your time studying, you’ll burn out and maybe even drop out. Find a balance between studying and having fun.


This article was written by Sally Wood

Sally Wood is a freelance writer and editor from Marionville, Missouri. She worked as a high school counselor in the Aurora R-VIII School District in Aurora, Missouri, from 1980–2000.

1 Comment

  1. Nicole

    I’m sorry, but these sound an awful lot like things many high school students have to do (with the exception of being unable to schedule an hour between classes). This is especially true of people in AP or IB courses, even honours courses in some cases. I was really hoping for more out of this.

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