Developing Powerful Study Skills Lead to Success in College

Article excerpt

The study skills you need to succeed in college could more appropriately be called "life skills" because their acquisition affects your life far beyond the classroom. Participation in club activities, maintaining a job or home, playing sports, and learning new hobbies all require the same skills necessary to achieve mastery of the college curriculum. For example, to retain even a part-time job demands good time management if you are to be punctual in work assignments. It is important for you to remember that no one activity will make you academically excellent. Rather, your success in school requires a number of skills that, when practiced often, become productive habits in all areas of your life.

Your first step to developing better study skills lies in organization, both physical and mental. You are not likely to be mentally organized if your physical surroundings are chaotic.

If your study center is at home make sure that your desk, or table, and chair are comfortable. Keep this area as free of clutter as possible, and remember: Good lighting is essential to keep you alert while you study. Lying down on a bed or sofa to read tends to relax the body and the mind, resulting in untimely sleep. When studying in the library, try to locate a spot as free of distractions as possible to help you focus on the task at hand. At home, keep your study center equipped with extra supplies such as pens, pencils, calculator, folders, paper and any other items you anticipate needing throughout the semester.

Some inexpensive organizational tools include: pocket folders (one for each class), index cards and file box, an assignment book or daily planner, and monthly calendar. Place any handouts distributed in class in a pocket folder designated specifically for that class to avoid misplacing important course materials. Keep the daily planner with you as you move from class to class. With all of the academic and social activities taking place on campus, you can easily forget an upcoming assignment that is not written in your planner.

Although you spend less time in the classroom in college than in high school, the time spent outside of class can make or break your college career. Without good time management, you may easily and rapidly fall behind in course requirements. As soon as the semester begins, set up a daily, weekly and monthly schedule for yourself.

To prepare a daily schedule, write the days of the week across the top of your page. Down the left side, write the hours of the day from the time you usually awaken until the hour you usually go to sleep. Separate into columns and rows and fill in all activities you are engaged in at that hour. You may be surprised to see how many slots of time you have available to work on class assignments.

Your weekly and monthly schedules can be done using a calendar with large blocks for days. Fill in activities and upcoming assignments. Be sure to include both academic and social commitments so that you can plan ahead as well as balance your work and leisure time. Make your goals realistic and attainable. Each week set new goals for yourself in writing. For each of your classes jot down the strategies you will need to achieve your weekly goals. Reward yourself when you reach a goal, no matter how small.

Note-taking skills are also much needed abilities to survive in the college classroom. Often professors teach by lecture only, and class notes are the record of what was said in class. Whenever possible sit in the front of the room near the lecturer. This practice helps you to focus more precisely on what is being taught and removes many of the distractions within the room.

As information is being given, repeat it to yourself as you write down the important information. Fold a margin on one side of your page to use for examples or more detailed explanations that accompany notes. Use abbreviations and symbols as much as possible. …