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Adapting to college is extremely difficult. Not only that, classes are 10x harder than they were in high school. There is always this constant pressure to get the best grades possible in order to get into medical school, graduate school, and more. Each quarter, universities release the “dean’s list:” a list of the students with the highest academic GPA. For my school, that GPA minimum is a 3.50 (on a 4.0 scale). To some, a 3.5 may seem easy to achieve but trust me, it’s a lot harder than you think.
Personally, I have made dean’s list a handful of times. It wasn’t easy, but it is worth yet. Not to mention, making dean’s list is significantly harder when you are taking STEM classes (because of the competition). Over the years, I have figured out the best study habits in order to succeed in my classes.
1. Read ahead: Many students underestimate the amount of reading they will have to do for their classes. At the beginning of the quarter, professors will usually hand out a syllabus with all the topics and chapters you will be covering in the course. It is very important to stay on top of your reading. Read the chapter that will be covered in class before coming to class. You should come to class already knowing the what the professor will be discussing and use the actual lecture to further your knowledge.
2. Make a study schedule: I recently started doing this and it has changed my life. I learned how to make study schedules from Gabby Aikawa on YouTube – watch her video here! Making a consistent study schedule is important to make sure you are on track and not falling behind in school.
3. Make study guides as you go along: Don’t wait until before a midterm exam or the final exam to start making your study guides. After you finish each chapter, make a study guide. It’s as simple as writing it down on some notebook paper. At the end of the week, review all the study guides you have made so far. When exams come up, you won’t have to worry about re-teaching yourself material that you forgot from the beginning of the quarter!
4. Study every single day (& set a time for it): This may sound simple and obvious, but it is easy to get caught up in so many other things while in college. Utilize a calendar or planner and actually schedule out time to study each day (it should be at least an hour). This will help keep yourself accountable for your studying habits and help you schedule your other activities around schoolwork.
5. Go to office hours: Every single professor that you will ever have will host office hours. Office hours are extremely important – think of it as another class to add to your schedule. You can get one-on-one tutoring, find out the topics you need to focus on more and which ones you can forget about, and create a solid relationship with your professor (this is important for future recommendations!).
6. Utilize study/tutoring centers: During my freshman year, I didn’t utilize these as much as I should have and I 100% regret it. After receiving a poor grade in one of my classes, I vowed that I would try and go to the study center every day next quarter… and I did! Again, I put it into my schedule (this helps a lot, I swear). Now, I average around 150 hours in the study center per quarter and my grades are consistently improving!
7. Set a sleeping schedule: This has been the hardest tip for me to follow but it makes a hell of a difference. Don’t be one of those students who studies until 2AM regularly – you will regret it. Sleep is so important, especially in college. Going to sleep at a consistent time will help you feel more awake during class and give you the brain fuel to study and succeed. Don’t take sleep for granted. It’s all about self discipline!
8. Get help now, even if you don’t need it: The key to academic success in college is to get help before you need it. The most common mistake that students make is waiting until a terrible exam grade to seek help in a class. If you are consistently seeking help, you will always be on top! Understand the content now, not before it’s too late.
9. Set time aside for R&R (rest and relaxation): With all this studying, it can be stressful and overwhelming. You need some rest and relaxation! Give your brain a rest and watch some Netflix or go to dinner with some friends. A short break will make a world of difference!
What are your best study tips/habits? Let me know!
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