College Life Hacks: 5 Ways to Study Smarter

Written by The LCU Blogging Team on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 in Be Blue!

You’ve heard the statement time and time again, “College won’t be like high school.” But how exactly will college be different? One way college will be different is your workload. You already know that college professors expect more from you in class. And you’ll have a lot more free time to do the work, which is great!

But more free time can actually bring on more challenges, and it can be hard to adjust. Here are five life hacks you can adopt to help you study smarter in college.

Establish Your Routine

A big part of what makes college so different is your routine. Your class schedule is likely very different than what you had in high school. The first step to studying smarter is to establish a routine around your new day-to-day. Get plenty of sleep each night and avoid all nighters at all costs, as they do way more harm than good. Eat plenty of healthy meals and drink water throughout the day. Build study time into your schedule each day. Finding a groove with your routine will keep you on track while giving you plenty of time to enjoy all the fun activities on campus at LCU.

Master Your To-Do List

Once you have your routine, use tools to help you build a master to-do list and stick with it. There are tons of options here that can help you. Consider purchasing a planner that allows you to set goals and build to-do lists with a monthly, weekly, and daily view. You can go digital with online tools like Todoist, Wunderlist, or myHomework. These tools are great for organizing simple tasks like homework assignments, and they also empower you to collaborate with groups to knock out projects with several sub-tasks. The best part about these digital tools is that you can enable reminders and notifications and integrate them with documents, files, and webmail to keep everything in one place.

Take Good Notes

It’s important to determine a note-taking strategy that works for your learning style. You may try hand-written notes to transcribe everything the professor says using the Cornell note-taking method. Or you might prefer digital note-taking applications like OneNote and Evernote, which are good tools for organizing, saving, and sharing notes. Google Drive is also a good option. All of these programs allow you to create folders for each class, insert images and visual aids, highlight key information, and search through your notes. And the best part? Each program is cloud-based, meaning you do not have to worry about losing important information because you forgot to save.

No matter how you choose to take notes, make sure you are using an effective strategy for documenting, saving, and organizing them. Remind yourself of the larger purpose of your note-taking: great organization of well-written notes will benefit your understanding of course material and help you do well in school.

Improve Your Focus

When it comes time to study for an exam or write a big paper, there are a few things you can do to improve your focus and maximize your time. First, do not attempt to multitask. You blocked out this time in your schedule to study, make sure you are doing just that. Enable apps on your computer that won’t allow you to lose hours on Facebook or imgur, like Self Control, Freedom, or Focus. Cut out distractions such as Netflix, social media, and other distractions on the internet. Set your phone to “do not disturb” to remove the temptation to open that Snapchat from a friend after receiving a notification.

Second, set a specific goal for how long you plan to work before taking a break. Using the Pomodoro Technique, or interval method, helps with this. Use a timer on your phone or a simple kitchen timer and break up your work in the following pattern:

  • Work for 25 minutes
  • Take a 5-minute break
  • Repeat for 4 rounds
  • Take a 15-minute break

Dividing your work into short bursts of focused time will help you improve productivity and give you a repeated sense of satisfaction as you complete tasks compared to attempting to work in long, unbroken durations.

Take Advantage of Peer Tutoring

If you’re struggling with a particular subject, there is no shame in asking for help! Lucky for you, LCU offers free, one-on-one peer tutoring in most subjects. It’s easy to set up one-hour sessions with a tutor that match your unique schedule. We recommend signing up early, well before an exam, to help you build a strong foundation in the class from the start.

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