How to ace your college classes when you’re struggling to keep up
This post is all about study tips for college.
No matter how good your grades were in high school, having your grades drop a bit in college is a common experience. There’s no way around the fact that college classes tend to just be a lot harder. They’re faster paced than in high school and there’s a lot more content covered each week. So, even if you miss one class, you can really fall behind. That’s where having great study tips for college comes in; your high school habits probably won’t cut it anymore!
I graduated with a 95 average my senior year of high school but still found my college classes to be a huge adjustment, and like most college students, my grades dropped in comparison to my high school grades.
Thankfully, I quickly learned to get it together. After studying for tons of college exams I can assure you that using these study tips for college will bring you well on your way to success in all your classes.
This post is all about study tips for college.
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BEST STUDY TIPS FOR COLLEGE:
1. Plan your week ahead of time
I can barely survive if I don’t plan my week ahead of time.
Planning your week ahead of time doesn’t mean the plan can’t change, it just means you’ve determined how busy you’ll be and when you’ll have time to study. That way, you can put study time into your schedule.
This is a great way to hold yourself accountable to studying. It also helps you budget how much time you’ll have for other things, like parties, Netflix, hangouts and hobbies.
2. Block out distraction-free hours
If it’s hard for you to put down your phone, simply decide on shorter periods of time when you’ll commit to putting away those distractions. For example, if you’re studying from 4-6, decide to put your phone down from 4-5. After 5, you’ll still be studying, but if you get a text, you’re allowed to check it. That way, losing the distraction feels less overwhelming.
This just helps take some of the pressure off. It gives you a small goal to work towards (putting away distractions for one hour) and gives you a sense of accomplishment when you complete your goal.
3. Find a go-to study spot
This might be in your apartment or on campus. Having a go-to study location means that you don’t have to think for too long about where you’re going to study. And you don’t have to waste precious time hunting for a good place. Have a go-to study spot (and a backup, in case your favourite place is taken).
4. Find the perfect coffee shop
This will depend on how far you’re able to travel and how big a city you live in. I love going to low-key coffee shops a little further from campus that aren’t super populated with students. I love the environment of local or family-owned coffee shops.
It will depend on what’s convenient for you, but generally speaking, a good coffee shop can be another go-to place for those hard-core study days. Plus, then you can’t get tired and go take a nap… You’ve gotta commit!
5. Take fruitful breaks
Taking a “break” to go on your phone for 10 minutes isn’t a fruitful or refreshing break. I’m not saying don’t check your phone. I’m just saying that it’s important to take breaks that truly will refresh you. Get up to make a cup of coffee. Take a 5 minute stretching break. Go grab a snack. Even something as simple as walking to the refrigerator and back will wake you up enough to get focused once again.
6. Bring fuel
I cannot survive a day of studying without having some good snacks.
This tip is especially important if you’re leaving your apartment/dorm to study. Getting hungry while you’re studying is the worst thing. Especially if you don’t want to spend money or walk away from your stuff to go buy food. You’re stuck either packing everything up and finding a new place to study when yours gets taken, or staying put and staying hungry.
Your brain needs fuel when you’re studying! Think ahead and bring some healthy snacks with you.
Some of my favourite study snacks include:
- Protein bars
- Veggies and dip
- Trail mix
(ALSO… I love these reusable snack bags for packing & carrying around my study snacks. They’re environmentally friendly, super easy to wash out, and save you money since you don’t constantly have to buy plastic bags. I would easily consider these a college essential!!)
7. Go to tutorials
I know that sometimes, tutorials are extremely boring and feel like a waste of time. But it’s really important to go because in tutorials, you have the chance to ask more questions and get help with review.
Not every class has tutorials, but if you’re taking classes that have them, don’t skip them!
[RELATED POST – First Year at College Advice: 50 Lessons for College Freshmen]
8. Team up with some friends
Personally, I like studying alone and find it distracting to be with friends most of the time. HOWEVER, I am a huge advocate of getting together with friends in order to tag-team your review notes.
Review notes can take so long to create if you’re doing them all yourself. Instead, find 1-3 friends in your class and you can each tackle a section of the review so that you can put the notes all together in one document. It’s more efficient this way, and then you can focus on learning the information rather than just trying to compile information on your own.
9. Take good notes throughout the semester
Have you ever thought, I’ll just make these notes more detailed when I’m studying…
BIGGEST MISTAKE you could possibly make!
Taking good notes throughout the semester makes your life so much easier when it comes to studying for exams because instead of starting from scratch with your notes, you can just compile notes on the information you need and focus on retaining information.
10. Hand write your review notes
This is one of those study tips for college students that doesn’t necessarily work the same for everyone. However, for most people, the connection of physically writing review notes as you read them really helps with remembering the information.
11. Make your review visually appealing!
This, again, works best for people who are visual learners (but I think we all are to some degree). I hate wasting tons of time on making my review notes look pretty, but even something as simple as highlighting important words or information creates a visual that stands out and helps you to remember the most important information.
12. Read out loud to yourself
I’m definitely an auditory learner, so this one is huge for me. Try reading the information you’re studying out loud to yourself. Repeat important information multiple times. This really works!
13. Practice explaining concepts or ideas
You know how some studying isn’t just about memorization, but also concepts, theories, and philosophies? If you have classes like that, then practice explaining (or writing) the concepts you’re studying IN YOUR OWN WORDS without looking at the textbook or your lecture notes.
This will help ensure you have a deeper understanding of the information, rather than just trying to memorize it word for word so you can regurgitate the textbook onto your exam paper. That way, you’ll be prepared for harder or more thought-provoking questions.
14. Make weekly and daily to-do lists
I know this seems like an obvious tip, but it’s an easy habit to fall out of and one that makes such a huge difference.
I got so much more productive on assignments and studying when I started making daily and weekly to-do lists. Every week, I write down everything I need to do for each class. Then, I plan out my week and put my daily to-do’s on my calendar.
I love writing them down in small tasks so that every task I check off feels like a win. For example, instead of putting “study for history exam” on my to-do list, I would put:
- Make review notes for history exam
- Spend 3 hours studying for history exam
This turns the task into more specific actions so that I can check them off my list faster and so that I know exactly what I need to get done when the time comes.
15. Don’t study in bed
I know this is hardest in a dorm room, because when you’re tired of sitting at your desk, you might not necessarily have a couch you can relocate to. But if you can help it, try not to study in bed at all.
I used to think this tip was pointless when people mentioned it. But, after starting to do it myself, I can verify that studying at a desk, outside, in a coffee shop, in the library, or even on a couch and saving your bed for your rest time really does help you unwind when you’re actually going to sleep.
16. Have a guilty pleasure
It might be a TV show, an unhealthy snack, a YouTube channel, or food from a certain fast food restaurant. Pick your guilty pleasure and use it either while you study OR as an incentive for after you’re done studying.
How did I get through the first semester of freshman year, you ask? How I Met Your Mother was always in the background.
17. Lots and lots of coffee
Do I even need to say this one?
If you’re one of those people who’s a couple years into college and still doesn’t drink coffee, I don’t get you. And I don’t want to.
18. Try to avoid all-nighters
I know they’re sometimes unavoidable. But try not to pull all-nighters.
Everyone glorifies having all-nighters in college, but I promise you, all it does is throw off your schedule, your body’s natural rhythm and your energy levels.
If you’re really good at time management, you won’t often have the need for an all-nighter. Try sticking to a healthier, more consistent schedule. It’s worth it.
19. Find an accountability partner
If you’re living on campus, it can be really hard to tell a group of friends that’s hanging out that you have to go and study.
Plus, FOMO is a thing, am I right?!
So, if you find that you tend to put off studying so that you can hang out with people, get an accountability partner. It works really well if it’s someone who’s not at your school. Your accountability partner could be a friend, your boyfriend/girlfriend or even your mom or dad.
Let them know ahead of time when you plan to study, for how long, when your exam is, and how much studying you have to do. Have them text or call you when you’re supposed to start studying to make sure you really are. Then put your phone away!