Congrats! You got into a great school and are ready to hit the books. I know you knew how to study in high school (you got into college didn’t you?), but studying in college is a bit different. You have a lot more independence, and with that independence comes great academic responsibility. So here are my quick tips to help you make the grade:
1. Write Everything Down.
Unlike high school, most professors will pass out a syllabus outlining everything that you will be doing for the whole semester. That means every test, lecture, paper, and reading assignment is on it. Take the time at the start of the semester – before things get too busy – to write it all down in a planner. Yes, all of it. Do this for all of your classes, and any club meetings, sports, etc. If you aren’t sure what I mean, check out how to organize your planner here.
2. Read Consistently
This means keep up with your assigned reading. Don’t fall behind the syllabus. I’ve known many (very sad) students who waited until the night before the final to do any reading – they usually spent a very stressful and wakeful night only to fail the exam the next morning. Just don’t put yourself in that position, okay?
3. Actually Show Up.
Yes, that means go to class! You are paying a lot of money to be there (remember how much college costs?!) so make an effort to go to the class you’ve paid for. Going to college is a choice – so make it a conscious choice to go to that class, do that reading, write that paper, and listen to that lecture that you are trading four years and thousands of dollars for! I know that (horrible) alarm each morning is a pain, but your degree is worth it. Promise.
4. Talk To Your Professors
Introduce yourself to your professors at the start of each semester and go to their office hours if you have questions. Professors have office hours for a reason: so that students can meet with them to discuss their classes – whether that’s because you are completely confused, need help on a paper, or just want to know where you can learn more about a particular class topic. Your professors are a resource. Don’t be afraid to talk to them.
5. Plan Ahead
This is made much, much easier if you follow #1 on my list. Writing down a whole semester’s tasks and activities can be overwhelming, but it also can be empowering. Seeing everything in one place and – more importantly – in the context of your other tasks and activities means you won’t be blindsided by anything. You know what needs to get done way ahead of time. You can plan ahead, break down assignments, and don’t have to stress that you are missing something. It’s all right there, together, from the start, and all under your control.
You can do this! Good luck!