School is hard; homework, notes, tests, jobs, etc. I’m a junior in college and I’ve spent the last three years picking up certain tricks and advice on how to make the best of studying and keeping up your school work.
Understand what you’re getting into- the number one mistake people entering college make is to think that the classes and homework are the same as high school. They’re not; most colleges have classrooms with 200+ kids, and you’ll be lucky to even talk to your professor face to face during the course. If you thought you took a lot of notes in high school, just WAIT till you get into a college class. Most classes meet only two or three times a week, so every time you attend, your instructor is going to jam as much information down your throat as they can to cover all the material they need to.
Another thing about college that most people think is going to be really cool, but actually ends up as determent is attendance. In k-12 classes, teachers kept a strict eye out on your attendance, punishing you if you missed too many classes. That’s not the way it will be in college. Most teachers don’t even take attendance, and when the only person keeping up on what days you miss is you, it gets very hard to stay motivated and attend regularly.
Stay organized- The one thing that I invested in when I got to college that I thank god for everyday was a large dry erase board. Most people rush out to by a planner when they get their school supplies, and while I like planners too (so I can write down what’s due right when the teacher tells me) it’s easy to put a planner away and forget about it. Hanging a large dry erase board in your room and writing down what is due makes it much harder to forget. Having a reminder right there in your face keeps you on top of what needs to be done.
Also, keeping a clean, organized binder is imperative too; using tools like dividers to separate homework, notes, and tests makes everything easier to find and comprehend. Don’t let your stuff get sloppy and disorganized!
Study with a friend, or a group- Studying with a group isn’t a regular thing in high school. Most people study a few hours the night before a test, and usually do OK. But college courses are of course going to be harder, and the tests are going to go beyond a few hours of study in your room alone. Other students are your number one tool in college; they give new perspective to information, they help you understand stuff that you didn’t pick up on, and they keep you up to date on assignments and work material if you have to miss a class.
Ideally you should get one or two other student’s numbers at the beginning of the course so that you can text or call them to ask what you missed on days you are sick or can’t otherwise come to class, or to get them together for a study session before a test.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize- While it was OK to go hang out with friends, party, and stay up late in high school, in college you can’t get away with that kind of stuff. Too many people see college as a time to “be young” and “live it up”, but the reality is that the economy isn’t what it used to be, and not every person that graduates from college is going to find themselves in a good job. Most college classes cost upwards of $700 dollars (apiece!), plus books. Being a full time student is expensive, and making the types of grades that attract perspective employers means hard work and giving everything you can. While hanging with friends and having fun on the weekends is perfectly ok, getting plenty sleep, doing your work, and getting involved in on campus clubs is much more important than partying.
Relax- College is hard, but the fact that you’re even reading this means you are heading to college and you have what it takes to succeed. Follow the tips above and remember, taking a deep breath and realizing you can do anything always makes things easier.