First, Understand that Studying is Not the Same as Doing Homework

You’re no doubt familiar with the words “homework” and “studying,” but have you ever really thought about what they mean? As you transition from high school to college, now is a good time to develop a better understanding of these concepts, and how they will affect your success in your secondary education.

Homework is practical assignments given by the instructor to be completed outside of class, with the purpose of reinforcing skills learned in the classroom. These assignments allow for extra practice, so that you can refine your skills and knowledge in a particular area. Homework includes answering questions provided by the instructor or from a textbook; participating in online discussions with classmates, and group projects or presentations.

Studying refers to time spent reading and processing material, either to review what’s already been covered, or to prepare for future classes. Many students think of studying as something they do to prepare for an exam. However, it is best to set aside regular time for studying to be sure you understand all the concepts you are learning in class and do not fall behind. Studying includes creating flashcards, taking detailed notes, making outlines, and reading.

To be as successful as possible in college, it’s critical to prioritize homework and studying. Not only will these tasks help you earn good grades, but they ensure that you are gaining the practical and theoretical knowledge you need for your future career.

At this stage of your education, doing homework should be self-explanatory, but proper study habits may need a bit more explanation. We developed this guide to offer tips and strategies for efficient and effective studying.

Learn how to study effectively

students studying inside a busy library
While students are instructed in many disciplines throughout their elementary and secondary education, most are never really taught how to study. As a college student, it’s vital to develop effective study skills so that you can make the most of your study time, and be more successful in your education.

Because of this uncertainty about what studying actually is, many students view studying as a daunting task. It does not have to be. If you leverage effective study methods and tools, you will find that studying is less time-consuming and more useful. Continue reading to discover helpful study tips that will make your study time more productive.

Tip #1: Understand what kind of learner you are – Learning is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Research has shown that there are generally four types of learners – visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Take some time to reflect on your learning habits, and identify the method(s) that work best for you. There are also online resources available to help you identify your learning style. Understanding how you learn will help you develop study habits and strategies that work for you.

Tip #2: Minimize distractionsLimiting distractions is crucial to making study time productive. Usually this means finding a quiet place to study, like a quiet room, library, or study lounge. If you have to study in a noisy location, use earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, or white noise to block out distracting sounds. Mute your phone, and avoid televisions. If you are using a computer to study, do not get sidetracked by social media accounts or games. Assess your preferences and try different settings to determine what study environment is ideal for you.

Tip #3: Set a specific time to study – Just as you would for any other appointment or commitment, mark a time in your calendar dedicated exclusively to study time. Choose specific days and times that work best for you to study, and stick to your commitment. It is also helpful to create a study plan. We will detail how to make a study plan in the next chapter. Also, reward yourself with breaks. Grab a cup of coffee or sit back and close your eyes for a minute if you need to clear your mind.

Tip #4: Make sure you have all the study materials you need – Be sure that you have all the materials you need to study before you begin. Gather any textbooks, notes, and flash cards you will need to help you study. By bringing only the materials you need, it will be easier to stay on task.

Tip #5: Keep a positive outlook about studying – Many students dread studying, perhaps because they aren’t doing it right or they feel it isn’t helpful to their success. Approach your study time with a positive outlook. You are expanding your knowledge base and mastering skills that will be valuable in your future career. Take all the time you need to learn a topic, and don’t beat yourself up if you are having difficulty with the subject matter. Also, take the time to learn what study methods suit you best. You’ll explore study methods in detail further on and learn important studying skills that will make it easier to stay positive.

Tip #6: Do not procrastinate – Putting off studying until the last minute leaves you with less study time, and puts you in a stressful situation in which it is difficult to recall the material. Although cramming at the last minute can help you get a slightly higher score on a single test, this method won’t help you retain information for the long term. Also, remember that it is more effective and less daunting to study more often for shorter periods of time than to study during one long, exhausting session. If you have subjects that you are not passionate about, or find particularly challenging, it can be helpful to get that studying out of the way first. Putting it off will only give you time to worry and make it seem like a more difficult task.

Using this resource

The goal of this resource is to show you better methods of studying not only so that you can achieve higher grades, but also so that you retain information and develop strong work habits that employers are looking for in new graduates. You’ll discover some secrets about how to better manage your stress, how to save time by taking only meaningful notes, how to create a study plan, and other studying tips that will help you study smarter and harder. Continue browsing this guide to learn how to study more effectively as a college student.