When it comes to developing good study habits, there is a method to all of the madness. The type of study habits that you’ve come to practice in high school may not work so well in college. However, you can certainly build on those practices to make your study habits more disciplined—because you’ll need to! In college, you’ll have more responsibility, but you’ll also have more independence. For first-time college students, this could be a challenge to balance. That’s why Florida National University (FNU) wants to help prepare all of our students for how they can improve their study habits with these 9 helpful techniques.
1. Find a good studying spot.
This is important. You need to be in an environment with little to no distractions—an environment that will aid in keeping you focused on your assignments. The library has always been a reliable place to get some real academic work done, but if you prefer someplace else, just make sure that you’re set up for success. Your university may have other places on campus that will provide you with a nice little studying spot. While cafeterias may be quite busy, there are some university campus cafeterias that tend to have just enough silence for students to study while they grab a bite to eat.
You might get campus fever and decide to venture outside of your university to get some work done. Many students find little coffee shops with Wi-Fi that will let them sit there all day long for a buying customer. Outdoor parks and recreational centers, even the public library might be a nice change of scenery.
Even study lighting is also important. If you want to preserve your eyesight and maximize your time and energy, then choose lighting that will not cause eye strain or fatigue so you can keep your study session effective at any time of the day.
Establish rules when you’re in your study zone. Let people living with you know that when your door is closed, it means you do not want to be disturbed. Try not to respond to phone calls or texts, this will break your concentration and you will lose focus.
Let’s not forget about your home. No matter the size of your apartment or house, we recommend dedicating a little office space just for studying—away from any distractions.
2. Avoid social media.
Speaking of distractions, nothing can sap away your time for a good 20-30 minutes like good old social media! Emails used to be the necessary evil in order to keep life going, but now people are communicating through social media platforms more than email or even talking on the phone! As a result, it’s pretty common to have a browser tab open just for social media. The problem with this is the alerts! As much as you may try to ignore it, you won’t be satisfied until you follow through with the alert—an alert that will most likely require a reply! In all likelihood, it will end up being a conversation that could’ve waited an hour—and now you’ve just added another 20-30 minutes to your study time! Congratulations!
3. Stay Away From Your Phone.
Distractions also include avoiding your phone. The best thing you can do is either put your phone on silent, turn off the alerts and flip it over so that you can’t even SEE them, or just turn the thing off! If it helps, place the phone out of sight so that you’re not even tempted to check your messages.
The world can wait. Your education is a priority and anyone who’s in your circle of friends should understand this. If you are absolutely adamant about keeping your phone nearby in case of an emergency, then allow yourself some study breaks so that you can dedicate a certain amount of time just for checking your alerts and messages.
4. No Willpower? Enlist the Help of an App.
Apps like Focus Booster and AntiSocial have your back!
AntiSocial blocks your access to a selection of websites with a timer that you select.
Focus Booster is a mobile phone app that relies on the Pomodoro Technique, where you work intensively for 25 minutes and then you break for five minutes. The app also includes productivity reports and revenue charts.
5. Take a break and take care of yourself.
Talking a little more about taking breaks, this really shouldn’t be an option. College is hard work, and just like any other kind of job, you deserve a break. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Working until the wee hours of the morning to complete an assignment might be great for that class, but it’s not for you or other academic courses. You MUST take care of yourself in order to give your academic career the attention it deserves. You’re paying to get an education—to learn. Running yourself into the ground without allowing time for your body and mind to rest is unacceptable.
- Ophthalmologists will warn you that you need to remember to blink when working on a computer screen to save your sight. Give your eyes a rest by gazing into the horizon, preferably out of a window with natural light. Did you know that your eyes need exercise, too? Especially in today’s world where we are reading everything at such close distances. Keep your head in a neutral position and with just your eyeballs, look at the ceiling or a tree and try to focus. Go from corner to corner, focusing up, then do the same for the floor. Roll your eyes.
- Your hands also need a break: learn to use the mouse with your other hand, put the keyboard in the most comfortable position, which is actually on your lap. Take a moment to stretch your wrists and fingers.
- Refuel your body with the proper nutrients it needs to function. Pay attention to foods that drain your brain and eat more of the foods that power your brain. Just read up on how these superfoods can help your brain concentrate:
- Fatty fish
And don’t forget to sleep and reboot!
6. Organize lectures notes.
Unless you are a legal transcriptionist, transcribing lecture notes can make your notebook look like a 7-year-old scribbled in it! That’s why it’s best to record your professors’ lectures so that you can get a better understanding of the lesson. The best way to do this is to transcribe the recorded lecture notes. This way, you can rewind what you didn’t understand. It also behooves you to revisit those notes—while the material is fresh in your mind and rewrite them in a style that’s more legible and review-friendly. On the day of the exam, you’ll be glad you did.
Fact: it has been proven that information retention is higher when you go over your notes and repeat the lesson after the class is over.
Rewriting your lecture notes is going to be one of the most brilliant study techniques to practice. Rewriting will help you remember the context better and reorganizing them in nice outline forces you to comprehend the lesson.
7. Join or create a study group.
Have we mentioned that college is hard work? It’s worth stating again. Finding fellow students who are struggling to understand the coursework can be comforting. However, joining or creating a study group isn’t just because misery loves company, it’s about teamwork. Guaranteed someone in your study group can help you through a certain assignment you’re struggling with and you’ll be able to do the same. It’s all about helping each other succeed!
8. Aromatherapy, plants and music.
Science is always tinkering with nature, but in this case, in a simple way, only studying the effects of essential oils and plants on concentration, focus, and memory.
Some studies have shown that lavender has a good effect on memory, however, others have shown that its effect is negligible and in fact, lavender oil and teas are used to relax the body in preparation for sleep. So lavender may calm and center yourself, but for focus, sandalwood and frankincense (also known as Boswellia) have shown much more promising results in most studies.
Plants, in general, have a natural, comforting effect and in their presence, humans tend to have a higher pain tolerance and faster recoveries from hospitalizations.
Music, also improves brain function, can help you focus and also eases the pain. Learn more about the benefits of studying with music.
9. Leave time for the last-minute review.
Here are where well-organized lecture notes come into play. Always, always leave time for the last-minute review. Here, we’re exercising the tried and true memory game. This is a technique that most students apply as one study habit. That’s just impossible for the amount of college work you’ll be taking on, but it can work quite well as a last-minute review—only if you have good notes!
Better still, ff you can pair reviewing your notes with a good night’s sleep, then you will significantly improve your ability to retain more information. Just know that studying when you’re sleepy is ineffective. If your body is telling you that you’re tired, then have a nap or go to bed early. A good night’s sleep is another technique to use that will help you understand and remember information better.
If you’re finding that you are getting stressed out or tired, reflect back on your study schedule and priorities. Make sure that you have dedicated time for rest and de-stressing activities as well.
10. Understand Your Best Learning Style
It’s important to know that there are many different styles of learning and each person will retain information better in different ways.
- Visual learners who learn best when pictures, images, and spatial understanding is used.
- Auditory learners who prefer using music, sounds or both.
- Kinesthetic learners actually use a more physical style of learning through using the body, sense of touch and hands.
- Logical learners need to use reasoning, logic, and systems.
- Verbal learners will prefer using words in writing and speech.
- Social learners will thrive in learning with other people or in groups.
- Solitary learners are able to learn best when alone.
Think about which style of learning works best for you, and it will help you determine how to study, where to study when to study and other important factors like what study aids you should use and be aware of, and knowing what things may distract you while you are trying to study.
11. Make Study Time a Part of Your Daily Routine
If cramming all of your study time into a few long days isn’t working for you then it’s time to try something new and less stressful. What you do every day is more important than what you do occasionally, so make time for studying every single day, with or without exams coming up.
Consistency is key and once you start getting into good study habits, so make it a routine that you will be able to maintain throughout the school year.
When it becomes part of your schedule, you don’t need to find the time, you’ve made time for your study sessions each month. Don’t forget to also check your schedule for the week or month, and consider your personal commitments: chores, must-attend activities, and appointments. All you need to do now is to stay committed to your new study schedule.
Make studying your priority and place these sessions when you’re at your peak performance times to make them extra effective. Some people work best in the mornings, and others, at night. Experiment with this and don’t assume that because you wake early you should study early, but instead try morning, noon, and night to see which is best.
FNU Want You To Succeed!
Try to learn and not just memorize and remember, keep it simple. Don’t try to get fancy with your study notes. They are for your eyes only and won’t be graded. The goal is to help you get a high-scoring grade. We hope this quick checklist will alleviate some anxiety you might have for managing college work. If you have questions about this or any of our degree programs, contact an FNU advisor at any of our campus locations today!