College can be overwhelming. There are classes to go to, studying to do, jobs to work. Many students struggle with time management, especially as college is often their first time being on their own. Studying especially can be difficult, but it is also vitally important, hence the need for great study hacks.
While you may think studying only has to do with homework, this is not true. Studying is a skill that will help you throughout your life, from researching and applying to jobs and grants to finding distant student auto insurance discounts.
This article, though many how to study better methods exist online, will discuss the most successful study hacks that college students can implement to find more success in college. These hacks can and do translate to the real world and will help improve your college and post-college experience. In other words, you won’t end up being one of those students that said I hate college.
Study Hack 1: Set Aside Specific Study Time
Often, the hardest part of studying is finding the motivation and focus necessary to do it. By setting aside specific times for homework and projects, you will develop habits of study that will automatically motivate you.
Plan ahead so that your schedule and daily distractions won’t keep you from the necessary schoolwork you need to do. As part of your planning, make sure you have a specific time and place to study where you won’t be distracted by other tasks or people. It may help to mark down these study times in your phone, calendar, or daily schedule.
Keep track of when assignments are due as well, and consider using highlighters to mark the urgency and importance of assignments. While it is important to do smaller assignments that are due the next day, you don’t want to forget about your major assignments until it’s too late, either.
Another benefit of setting aside study time is that it leaves you with specific times for leisure and work as well. It will be easier for you to schedule other important aspects of your life if you already know what time you have to save for important assignments.
If you are struggling with a class, be sure to seek help from your instructor, teaching assistant, or campus tutoring offerings.
Study Hack 2: Create an Environment Where You Can Focus
Make sure you have proper internet access, good lighting, and all the writing or other supplies needed for studying in advance. Think about what kind of environment you work best in.
Is it easier for you to work in the library or at home? Make yourself a specific study nook and block out unnecessary distractions. Use noise-canceling headphones and turn off your phone.
Avoid distractions such as social media tools or unnecessary internet dives. It may help for you to move your social media apps to a new page or location in your phone that’s harder to access on a whim, or even temporarily delete them.
Part of avoiding distractions includes planning for them. If you know you can’t focus for long periods of time or that you do need an occasional break, plan those into your study times.
Let yourself browse through social media for five minutes every 25 minutes, or take a walk. Make sure you follow your timers so that you don’t end up having an hour break between study times.
Don’t multitask — most people can’t multitask, and it will make it harder for you to do the things you actually need to do.
Study Hack 3: Find a Job That Won’t Overwork You
Sometimes, one of the most important study hacks involves tying up loose ends and needs outside of studying.
It can be difficult to find jobs as a full-time college student. And one thing that makes it more difficult is the need to find a job that leaves you time, energy, and focus for your number one priority: school.
Students should prioritize to seek jobs with flexible schedules and that don’t demand unnecessary overtime and overwork. This can seem impossible at times, but fortunately, there are a good amount of side hustles and part-time jobs that can be perfect for students.
Some of the best jobs for students are those that you won’t necessarily find listed in the “now hiring” section of your campus or local newspaper. Dog walking, house and babysitting, and freelance writing are all jobs that you can do without having to clock in and out. Sites like Petsitter and Care.com let you set up profiles and find jobs easily.
Consider applying to your local or school library to be a library monitor. Often, these jobs get filled behind the scenes on an availability basis, so don’t be shy, and be sure to ask about available positions. You could also be a teaching assistant for a professor or course you did well in.
There are also a lot of campus jobs that are perfect for those familiar with the university, such as tour and campus guides for parents and tutors for new students.
You could also get a job as a grader for a low-level class. Contact your past professors to see if they have positions open, and ask at your campus employment office about campus and tutoring opportunities.
Some other campus jobs that are flexible with student needs include department assistant jobs, receptionist positions, campus tech support, admin positions, bookstore and campus store jobs, and security.
For non-campus jobs, retail and housing administration positions are often in high demand and will be flexible with your scholastic needs.
Be willing to talk to your supervisor about your scheduling needs and avoid overbooking yourself. Consider grouping class and homework times during certain chunks of the day and work for another.
The more you have things grouped together, the easier it will be to manage your studying time.
Study Hack 4: Take Advantage of Student Perks and Discounts
As stressful as studying is, one of the best study hacks would be to make sure that at least it’s the only thing currently stressing you out. Stretch your studying skills to take advantage of student discounts and perks so you have less weighing on your mind as you study.
Students who have cars will need to get car insurance, and they may not know whether they still qualify under their parents’ policies. Fortunately, many insurance agencies offer a distant student auto insurance discount that lets students stay on their parents’ policies even when they are at college. This will help to keep your premiums low.
Make sure you examine and compare different plans, however. Distant student discounts are mostly for those who are under the age of 23 and who are attending a full-time university that is over 100 miles away from their home.
As with school assignments, you need to make sure that you know the requirements for health and auto insurance premiums. Compare and get different quotes from various providers so you can pick the best one for your situation.
For instance: if you don’t drive very often, or only drive during the holidays, it may not be worth it to have car insurance. It may just be cheaper to book flights instead. Also, you should think carefully about how much you need a car in the first place.
If you maintain good grades, you can even qualify for more discounts. Do your research to find out what your provider offers.
Study Hack 5: Review Your Professor And The Course
Another way to reduce stress around you, to enable you to study better and effectively is to do proper research on the course and professor, especially when the course is an elective.
This is one of the study hacks that would enable you to determine if it is a course you would enjoy taking and not one you signed up for just to get a good grade on, as this can almost be likened to being in a well-paid job that you hate.
And to that effect, you should look up reviews on the course professor, as he or she would have a major influence on the kind of experience that a student would expect while taking the course.
Some folks would recommend using the many rate my professor platforms out there, like the Rate My Professors, Uloop, and Koofers. But with caution, as the ratings could be skewed towards a course or professor.
Study Hack 6: Apply Your Study Skills Outside Of Homework
There are basic skills you will develop while studying that you can keep honed even when not currently doing schoolwork. From exercising your reading skills to comparing information and offerings, practice studying non-school subjects, such as comparing the prices for car and car insurance, selecting classes, and applying for jobs.
By keeping your studying senses sharp, you will be better able to handle the things you need to as a student.
Read things that interest you, whether the newspaper or a novel. Think of your education as a lifelong pursuit, not just something like a career path to get you to a career goal.
Study Hack 7: Reward Yourself for Your Successes
Achieving success in college won’t be worth anything if you don’t reward yourself for it. Give yourself incentives to succeed, and allow yourself to have breaks and a chance to relax after going through a grueling test or essay.
You can also reward yourself while you are studying by using candy, breaks, and friends as carrots to guide you through your study times. You could put gummi bears on a page to incentivize you to keep reading or buy a favorite snack to enjoy once your study time is through. Set plans with friends so that you have a reason to finish your homework in time.
Think about what kind of reward works best for you. Perhaps a break from school is a good reward, or perhaps a non-school book to read is enough.
Rewards often work better than punishments. Don’t think of it as you keeping yourself from good things until you succeed. Think of it as giving yourself a gift when you do.
Sometimes, reframing the way we think about studying and success is all it takes.
Rewards can be framed around assignments and tests, or they could revolve around achieving certain grades. Perhaps you could promise yourself a fun trip with friends or family at the end of the semester if you hit a certain GPA.
The important thing is to think about what motivates you. If large, distant rewards aren’t a good motivator, maybe smaller, more present rewards will be.
You could also reward yourself for study habits rather than study results. This will put you in the mindset of maintaining good study skills rather than simply getting a good grade at the end of it all.
Study Hack 8: Take Breaks to Relax
It’s impossible to study if you are stressed all the time, so make sure you have moments of relaxation.
Like with most other things on this list, you can divvy up the kinds of breaks you give yourself into different categories. Big breaks could involve the rewards you give yourself at the end of a semester, while small breaks could involve something as simple as a walk or video game.
One of the facts about sleep is that a good night’s sleep is vital for good study habits. If you tend to struggle with sleeping, take the time and put your study habits to good use to figure out what is wrong.
Is it that you can’t go to bed at a set time? Do you get wound up and unable to rest? Are you too stressed or feel the need to pull all-nighters? Perhaps you simply struggle with good old-fashioned insomnia.
Regardless of the reason, there are things you can do to help yourself relax and get the sleep you deserve.
Try to turn off electronics at least an hour before bed. Take time to perform your nightly rituals like washing your face and brushing your teeth. Turn off loud music and do something relaxing like reading a book.
Most people have sleep patterns throughout the night. Use a schedule to see if you tend to wake up at certain times or if you sleep for a certain amount of hours naturally.
Then, bend your sleeping schedule around your body’s natural rhythms. It’s more important to accommodate your body’s needs than it is to try to control them.
Be proactive in asserting your need for comfort. Make sure you have a good pillow and bed and that you have plenty of comfortable blankets. It isn’t wasteful to prioritize relaxation.
If you still struggle with falling asleep, talk to a doctor or healthcare provider. They may be able to suggest something that will help, such as taking melatonin to jumpstart your sleep.
If the reasons you can’t sleep have to do with stress, you may want to talk about it with a professional therapist or school counselor. They often have advice and resources that can help you calm yourself down and be better prepared to both study and sleep.
Remember that you are not alone and that there are resources available for you.
Study Hack 9: Experiment With Different Study Tricks
There are many articles online that will teach you a variety of study hacks, but the best study hacks are those that teach you important tools that you apply yourself. Any study trick might work for you, but what’s more likely is that there are specific tools that work and tools that don’t.
Write down some tricks, such as using flashcards, chewing gum while studying and taking tests, recording lectures, or using difficult fonts on your notes (to improve recall). Then, give yourself some time to test them out on your courses.
While you want to give yourself plenty of time to get used to the study hack, don’t try to push yourself to conform to something that doesn’t work for you.
You might want to try out a specific trick for a month or even a whole semester. You usually will want to do at least a few study sessions to get into the groove of a certain study hack. This will help you know whether it is something that works for you.
No experimentation is good without documentation. Write down a sentence or two on your phone or in a notebook about how you feel before and after study sessions, and then review these notes so you can see what works and what doesn’t.
In the end, you sometimes have to trust your body and brain to tell you what you really need.
Study Hack 10: Utilize Social Relationships
While we often romanticize the idea of the lone, bright academic scholar, the truth is that nobody gets anywhere alone. Your friends, family, and academic peers and professors are all great sources of comfort and support to you in your studies.
Be willing to meet new people and talk to your roommates and fellow students. Make friends and create study groups. Hold each other accountable, and give yourself time to get to know and care about others.
Look up your professor and teaching assistant’s open office hours and take time to drop in and introduce yourself, talk about upcoming assignments, or even just to say hello. Your professors will see your willingness to engage positively and be more likely to give you helpful advice on how to succeed. Let yourself trust and develop relationships with your professors.
Building social relationships will help you outside of school as well — almost every career today is based on an interwoven network of social and professional relationships. Your peers at school will become your peers at work, and your professors can be solid job referrals.
Finally, make sure that you keep up with family and friends. That social network can give you a massive boost when you are feeling down or struggling with stress. Give yourself specific times to call home or text friends, and don’t feel guilty about maintaining social ties.
We all need help and support sometimes. If you follow these tips, you will be better able to study without the stress and apply your skills both at school and in your daily life and career.Tags: best study techniques for college study hack study hacks study techniques college