Develop Better Study Habits

Edited by Jake Martinez, Shelley, Eng

If you are thinking of going back to college to get your bachelor's or master's degree, and it has been awhile since you stepped foot in a classroom, your study habits might be a bit rusty. That's okay, since you really haven't had to crack open a book unless it was purely for fun. Plus there are a multitude of reasons to try and put off your school work; family, job, club meetings, it can all become a bit much. But if you truly want to succeed, then you will need to consider the types of habits you once had, and do some research on what it will take to become a good student. This is especially true for those taking online classes, since those require a certain amount of dedication and discipline to get all your work done.

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But do not fear, you'll just need to make a few adjustments here and there to get yourself started. This article will discuss strategies to get your study habits going in the right direction by helping you make a plan of attack that you can easily stick to.

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Setting Up Your Space

Before you even begin to study, you need to make sure you have a space that is set up for your school work. This can either be a room in your house or apartment that is away from everything else, or a corner that you can sneak away to once you have a chance.

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  1. 1
    Find the Space.
    Look throughout your house and find the optimal spot that you can utilize as a workspace. If you have an extra room or section of the house, that's great. But if you do not, look for a free corner or space that will fit a small desk or other workstation.
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  2. 2
    Minimize Distractions.
    Once you picked out your space, look for ways to minimize distractions. This is easy if you have a room all to yourself, since you can simply close the door, but those that don't will have to get a bit more creative. If you find yourself in a corner, see if you can set up a curtain or a screen to separate yourself from other areas. It will also help to have some headphones around, that way you can listen to some soft music if you need to. Of course, distractions also mean keeping yourself away from the TV, so you may want to choose a corner that is facing away from it. Unless the noise helps you study, in which case you might still want to face away, but be close enough to hear it.
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  3. 3
    Get Your Supplies Ready.
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    One of the biggest annoyances of being a student is having the need for a pen, but there doesn't seem to be one around. This means that you have to stop what you are doing in order to track one down. The way that you can prevent this is to have the basic supplies handy and readily available. This includes pens, pencils, a notebook, your computer/laptop/tablet, a charger (for those low battery moments), highlighters, your textbooks and anything that you will need to complete your assignments. If you are taking online classes, you might also want to include a set of headphones with a mic, just in case you have to attend any video chats.
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Make a Plan

Now that you have set up your space, it's time to make a schedule that you can stick to. Don't worry if you do not follow it down to the minute, since surprises do come up. But you do want to try and keep yourself on track to avoid falling behind.

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  1. 1
    Take a Look at Your Current Schedule.
    The first thing you need to do is look at your current schedule and see where you can fit in some study time. Even if it is just a few minutes here or a few minutes there, you have to wind a way to squeeze it all in. Yes, it may sound daunting, especially with soccer practices, family gatherings and your upcoming deadline at work, but once you finish and get your degree, you will realize it is all worth it.
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  2. 2
    Break it Up Into Sections.
    Being busy is a part of your life; that's normal. But that doesn't mean that you should try and cram all your homework into one session. Not only is cramming ineffective, it wastes a lot of energy that you need in order to focus. So instead of doing everything all at once, break it up into more than two sessions.
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  3. 3
    Stay Consistent.
    Consistency is the key, so once you plan out your sessions, make sure you stick to them as best you can. The reason for this is because you want your study routine to become a regular, natural part of your life. The only way to do that is to keep up with your routine. This will help you stay ready for each session, both emotionally and physically, which in turn will make you more productive. Plus, if you somehow break from your routine, don't worry. Just get back to it as quickly as you can.
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While You Study

You now have a study area and a plan. Now it is time to get to the actual studying.

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    Set Some Goals.
    Each study session needs to have a plan of attack in order to be effective. After all, you aren't going to work on the same information or project twice, so you will need to make sure you make a list of goals and tasks that need to be done during that particular session. For example, tell yourself that you are going to read thirty pages now, then go back and look over the sections that you highlighted before you move on to the next. Setting up smaller, localized goals will help you with your overall academic outcomes.
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  2. 2
    Don't Just Sit There.
    Sometimes you will find yourself just sitting there, not sure where to begin. This could be because you are not familiar with the subject, you think the instructions are unclear or because you simply have no interest in that particular area. It happens to everyone, however you cannot let procrastination stop you from completing your work or rushing through just to get something turned in. If you are not feeling a particular subject, move onto the next one, that way you build some momentum before going back to that other assignment.
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  3. 3
    Don't Be Afraid.
    Another thing most people do is put off the most difficult subject until the end. But that isn't always the best strategy to follow, since you might already be mentally exhausted by the time you get to it. But if you start your session with the harder subjects, you are actually helping build the effectiveness of your study habits.
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  4. 4
    Don't Forget the Breaks.
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    It might be tempting to continue once you have developed a good rhythm, but eventually, you will have to take a break. Not only does taking a break keep you from getting exhausted mentally and physically, but it helps you retain information that you have just read. So if you find yourself getting a bit frustrated, go outside to get some air, have some coffee or play a little game. However, try not to get caught up in things that could distract you, such as social media. They may provide some quick enjoyment, but it is easy to get sucked in and not want to get back to work.
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Get in Groups

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Sometimes when going back to school, you may feel that you are in this all alone. This feeling might be even more prevalent if you are taking online classes, since you don't actually see the other students. But other students are there, and it would be in your best interest to try and find a group that you can study with and bounce ideas off of. If you go to a traditional class, you can ask around and see if anyone would be interested in getting together to study for big exams, or to review each other's papers before they are due. If you are in an online class, try using the email or discussion board tools to see if anyone would like to be a work buddy. Now, don't think that just because you are meeting online that it all has to be done through email. There are a variety of tools and platforms that you can use to meet in real-time and even share files right on the spot. Some examples include Skype and Google Hangouts. You can even add more than two people if needed.

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What to Do if You Go Off Schedule

Life happens. It doesn't stop simply because you are going to school. Because of that, it is quite possible to get off your schedule from time to time. It's also easy to simply not follow the study plan you made, or to figure out that maybe it isn't quite working the way you had hoped. If that happens, it's not the end of the world. You'll just need to step back and take a look at everything you have done.

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  1. 1
    Reflection.
    If you find your study plan is not working out, you will need to go back and reflect on a few things before coming up with another one. For example, you'll need to look back and see how dedicated you were to following the schedule, and if you kept yourself free of distractions. You may also want to look at times when your study time was effective, and if you noticed anything different that you were doing at the time.
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  2. 2
    Make a New Set of Goals.
    Once you have established what works what doesn't, it is time to sit down and write a new set of study goals. If you found that you took on too much during your last set, try to be more realistic this time around. If you found that you didn't take on enough, see if there are ways in which you can reorganize your schedule to put in more study time.
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By following these steps, you should be on your way to developing better study habits, and hopefully an A in your classes.

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Categories : Communications & Education

Recent edits by: Shelley, Jake Martinez

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