The transition between high school and college isn’t exactly one you can prepare for.
Perhaps the biggest eye-opener is the fact that assignments and exams are suddenly worth a lot more. Your grade for an entire semester in college might be based on four grades in total!
That can put a lot of pressure on a college student. After all, getting a bad grade on one exam can cause your course grade and GPA to drop significantly.
That’s why studying is the most important thing you can do in college. But, studying in college isn’t like studying in high school.
So, let’s review these five college secrets. They’ll make studying less painful, and they’ll help you do better in school!
1. Form a Study Group
Every single week, you sit through about four hours of lectures for all of your college courses. The only time you interact with your fellow classmates may be during group projects or presentations.
That means you probably study alone.
But, what happens when you get back to your dorm and realize you don’t understand everything that was reviewed in class? Or, what about when you just can’t find the focus to study for hours at a time?
You start a study group!
A study group is a perfect opportunity to learn from your peers. One of your classmates might understand a certain topic better than you. So, they may be able to explain it in a way you actually understand.
Study groups can also expose you to new ways of learning.
Maybe making index cards isn’t working out the way it did in high school. College is the perfect time to change your study habits to guarantee success!
2. Study Every Day
Let’s be honest:
You’ve probably spent at least one night cramming for a test. You stocked up on coffee or energy drinks, then spent all night reviewing an entire semester’s worth of notes.
On the morning of your exam, you were tired and unfocused. Your plan backfired.
That’s why it’s a good idea to study every single day.
As soon as your class is over or you have a break between classes, take some time to review the content you learned.
That way, your memory is still fresh. You might even be able to remember a few key points that you didn’t write down. Plus, you can talk to your professor before the next lecture to get any clarification you need.
Most importantly, you won’t have to reteach yourself an entire semester of content the night before the exam. And you definitely won’t have to send that desperate 3 a.m. email to your professor asking for clarification on a certain topic.
The last thing your professor wants to do in the middle of the night is to answer an email from an unprepared student!
3. Apply Your Knowledge
Now that you think about it, high school tests were actually pretty simple.
After all, you could ace most tests by just memorizing the material.
College exams are more about applying the information you’ve learned during the semester. That means you’ll need to make an effort to understand the content in depth, so you can actually use the information later on.
This is particularly important in classes related to your major. Remember, the goal isn’t just to pass the exam; the goal is to walk away with useful knowledge that will help you in your career.
When you’re studying, stop trying to memorize information. Instead, as you study, think about why you’re learning this and how you can use it in the future. This will make everything easier to remember, even after the test.
4. Talk to Past Students
If you’re a first-time college student, you might not know what to expect from exams. This can make it hard to prepare for tests, especially during your freshman year.
But, what’s even worse is that every professor has different exam styles.
To best prepare for a big exam, you’ll want to reach out to people who have already taken and passed the course. Their insight will let you know what to expect and help you prepare.
You’ll have to be a little careful about how you approach this. You should not ask past students for copies of exams. This can lead to serious academic consequences and might even get you suspended or expelled.
So, err on the side of caution.
5. Visit Your Professor During Office Hours
Your college probably has guidelines regarding office hours. In most schools, all professors need to be available to students for a few hours a week outside of class.
This is when you can schedule a one-on-one appointment with your professor and ask those much-needed questions.
But, don’t show up to office hours every single session. Doing that would steal time from other students, and isn’t the best method of studying.
So, try to figure it out on your own first. If that doesn’t work, ask your classmates or do some online research.
If you really can’t find the answers you need, attend office hours and ask your professor directly.
This can also be really effective when it comes to building relationships with your professors. That will definitely come in handy if you take courses with this professor again in the future, or if you need a resume reference later on.
The information you’ll learn in college is a lot more complex than what you learned in high school.
But, that doesn’t mean that studying has to be painful. You just have to approach it the right way.
Focus on learning the information in depth. Broaden your horizons when it comes to your study habits. Quit cramming before exams.
If you’re able to ditch the outdated study methods you used in high school, you’ll have a much easier time in college. Now hit the books!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Paramount 3800 to help them with their online marketing.