Did you know that full-time college students spend an average of 15 hours a week hitting the books? If you’re studying for 15 hours or so every week, you’re right on target!
With your extracurricular activities and other to-dos on the side, will a 15-hour weekly study time be enough? Certain majors, especially in STEM fields like Biology, Engineering, and Chemistry often demand more time for research and studying. Your professors expect you to promptly accomplish the academic requirements and meet their standards.
Fortunately, there’s good news for college students pursuing their first bachelor’s degree: academic excellence can be achieved despite these challenges!
Set SMART Goals
Goals keep you focused and motivated despite the difficulties and distractions coming your way. When we say SMART goals, we mean goals that meet the following characteristics:
- Specific. Define in clear and concise words what you want to achieve in terms of your study habits, like focusing more on math and science subjects
- Measurable. Ensure that you have quantifiable goals for tracking your progress, such as a specific number of hours spent reading your books
- Achievable. Set realistic goals based on your current conditions
- Relevant. Make sure your study goals are aligned with your overall academic goals
- Time-bound. Set deadlines that will make you responsible and accountable for your actions
Your SMART goal can be: “I will spend at least two hours studying differential calculus every weekday and one hour on weekends for 30 days to improve my subject understanding and get at least a B+ grade.”
SMART study strategies for success in college also apply to academic paper writing, exams, presentations, and thesis defense.
Create a Conducive Study Environment
Academic excellence in higher education hinges on your study environment. Fundamentally, your environment should match your personal preferences for studying. Some students prefer to study in the library over a bustling café. Neither is better than the other; it’s all about what matches your preference.
Studies, however, have shown that the following environmental conditions are ideal for studying:
- Ensure your physical comfort in whatever room you’re studying in. An ergonomic and comfortable chair-and-desk setup is a must, as is cool room temperature.
- Minimize, if not eliminate, distractions, such as turning off the television, setting your cellphone to mute, and setting up a study area away from intrusive foot traffic. You may, however, prefer either background music or white noise if it keeps you focused.
- Natural and artificial light are a must, but be sure that these aren’t too harsh on your eyes.
- Organize and personalize your study area, such as organizing your study materials and posting motivational quotes on your wall.
You should also consider whether you’re more focused during the day or night and adjust your study time accordingly.
Practice Good Time Management Habits
Even with a full load of courses, you can still achieve academic excellence and throw in extracurriculars, too, with effective time management habits.
- Set clear goals before studying, break your goals into manageable tasks, and stick to the allotted time.
- Prioritize your tasks and use prioritization techniques, such as the Eisenhower Matrix, in determining the urgent and important tasks.
- Allocate specific time slots for your study period, such as for reading a chapter, writing an academic paper, and solving practice equations.
- Avoid multitasking during study time. You should focus on a single task at a time, which results in greater productivity in learning.
- Set time limits, too, so you can attend to other curricular and extracurricular matters on your calendar. Balance is the key to college success.
Most importantly, say no to activities that can get in the way of your scheduled study time that aren’t life-or-death situations or aren’t of equal importance.
Create Daily and Weekly Schedules
Make daily and weekly schedules for studying and meeting other academic requirements. You should strive to stick to your schedule so that you can meet your commitments, too, such as participation in extracurriculars and social gatherings.
- Determine the blocks of time that can be used for studying.
- Write down the reading and writing assignments that must be done, the exams and quizzes you must prepare for, and other academic requirements that must be completed for the day and week.
- Alternate your study periods for different courses to avoid burnout and maintain focus.
- Take short breaks during your study sessions.
- Use apps to create your schedule, post your schedule on your wall, or do both — whatever works best.
But don’t be too rigid that you won’t adjust when something important comes up, either! Being flexible in your mindset contributes to college success.
If you’re the type who thinks better with a bit of a mess, then it’s alright — each to his own. But it also pays to be more organized in your study area and materials since it’s easier to think and find things when things are in place!
- Keep your learning materials organized by using folders and notebooks for every class, as well as labeling them.
- Use digital tools, such as OneNote or EverNote, to store your notes and documents.
- Use task management apps, such as Asana and Trello, to keep on top of schedules and deadlines.
- Use a color-coding scheme on your textbooks, notes and documents if it facilitates your faster learning and tracking of study materials. Highlighters and Post-Its are great for this reason.
Keep your study area organized and clean, too, so you don’t waste time finding things, and you can study with a clutter-free mind.
Use Active Learning Techniques
You will become more engaged in your study materials when you adopt these active learning techniques:
- Participate in group discussions and group study sessions.
- Engage in role-playing with your classmates to understand better your learning materials.
- Read case studies related to the theories being discussed to understand their real-world applications.
- Paraphrase the concepts in your own words and make a summary of the information you’ve learned.
- Teach the information to another person or exchange opinions about it.
- Test yourself about the new information, such as using flashcards, practice quizzes, and back-and-forth questions with your classmates.
- Use memory aids and mnemonic devices to remember complex sequences, formulas and information. Examples include keywords, musical and rhyme mnemonics.
You should be able to remember and retain information better!
Take Regular Breaks
Academic excellence isn’t just about your grades! It’s also about balance — after all, what good are 1.0 grades when you can’t enjoy rest and recreation, as well as enjoy your college journey?
You should take regular breaks during your study session. You must also take a break from studying and just enjoy being a college student. It’s good for your health!
Review on a Regular Basis
Don’t just read your learning materials during your study time, either. You should review your notes during your idle time, such as when you’re in the subway going to school, waiting for your order, or queuing in line. Your brain will absorb more of the information because it’s in a more relaxed mode.
Seek Support and Assistance
Every survival guide for bachelor’s degree students emphasizes that no college student should be an island! Even the best and brightest will benefit from the support and assistance of peers and professors, family and friends, and the campus community.
You should reach out for support and assistance when you need it — there’s no shame in it. Besides, that’s what student support services are for in college.
Of course, staying healthy is a must for college students to reach their academic goals! We can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting sufficient sleep, eating balanced meals, and exercising regularly as well as managing stress for college students with ambitions of academic excellence.
Know Your Style of Studying and Learning
If you want to maximize the effectiveness of the bachelor’s degree study tips, as discussed above, you should first know your studying and learning style. Once you do, you can personalize these study tips based on your strengths and preferences. You can then engage more actively and enjoy better retention of the study material.
Take a look at the main characteristics of each type of recognized learning style to determine your style.
- Prefer visual aids, including charts, diagrams and videos
- Likes to highlight key points using a color-coding scheme on the study material
- Learn better through observations, illustrations and demonstrations
- Prefer verbal instructions, lectures and other forms of listening-based learning format.
- Retain information better when it’s discussed or read out loud
- Benefit from participation in oral presentations and group discussions
- Enjoy memorization in information retention and the use of mnemonic devices
- Learn better through hands-on activities or learning by doing
- Benefit from movement-based learning, such as pacing while memorizing
- Retain information when paired with a physical engagement like interactive tasks, role-playing and experiments
Reading and Writing Learners
- Prefer learning through textbooks and other written materials
- Retain information better when making lists, taking detailed notes, and creating summaries
- Benefit from making their outlines and stating ideas in their own words
Your learning style can be a blend of two or more of these learning styles. You can choose the more dominant style and adjust your study tips accordingly. For example, if you’re more of a visual learner, you can use the color-coding technique while also creating your outlines, summaries and notes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the most effective study method?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer because every college student is different. We must say instead the most effective study method meets these criteria:
- It’s aligned with your studying and learning style, strengths and preferences.
- It encourages active learning instead of passive learning, meaning the use of paraphrasing, summarizing and sharing information with others.
- It leaves sufficient room for breaks, including sleep, rest and recreation.
If you haven’t found your best study method yet, then it’s never too late to start exploring different techniques now.
What are some good study habits for college students?
In addition to the study habits discussed above, we suggest the following for academic success:
- Be consistent with your schedule and practice discipline.
- Be flexible and adaptable in your study times, but strive to meet your target hours.
- Be engaged in and outside of your classes. Extracurricular activities are crucial in maintaining good physical and mental health, which, in turn, is a must for effective study time.
- Celebrate your progress so you can stay positive and motivated.
How can I focus 100% on studying?
- Create a conducive environment.
- Sit on a chair instead of on the sofa or bed where it’s easy to be lazy or sleep.
- Study in a brightly lit room.
- Be prepared to study — it must be your mindset from the start.
- Try to Five More Rule to stretch out your study time
How do I improve my memory and focus?
- Get sufficient sleep, usually 6–8 hours, and enjoy rest and recreation to reduce stress.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Practice mindfulness, such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises.
How can I learn fast and remember more?
- Say the information you want to remember out loud.
- Take handwritten notes instead of tapping on a keyboard.
- Test yourself more times than you did previously.
- Change the way you remember information.
- Teach the information to somebody else.