5 Secrets To Successful Studying In College

If there’s one thing everyone knows about college, it’s that it requires a lot of studying, which requires a lot of your time.  And let’s be honest, probably 90 percent of the world’s population does not enjoy studying a textbook.  It is long, tedious work.  For those of you who do actually study their textbooks, it often seems pointless because by the time you’re done reading the assigned chapters, you don’t think you learned anything.  So what are some helpful factors to actually learning while studying?

  1. Location, location, location.  You’ve got to find the right place to study.  The campus library works for most people, but not everyone.  I hate the campus library.  It’s at that awkward level of volume.  Not loud, but too quiet.  It’s almost like I wonder why everyone is so quiet, and then I start to people watch to figure out what they’re doing.  And there are so many people there, you’re bound to see someone you know and get interrupted midway through the first paragraph that is actually making sense, and then you have to start over.  Find that right place to study.  Maybe it is the library, right in the middle of the action.  Maybe it’s a quiet corner in the library, or the student life center, a coffee shop near campus, a bookstore or your own bedroom.  Wherever it is, make sure it’s comfortable and that it’s right for you.
  2. Take a break.  Studies suggest that you actually should not study for more than an hour straight, or you start to lose focus.  Study for an hour, take a ten minutes break.  Use the restroom, get a drink, check your text messages, play a word on Words with Friends; do something to give your brain a small break from the tiny print in your book.
  3. Use as many senses as possible.  It’s been said that you remember something better the more senses you can associate with it.  Read it to use your eyes, and say it out loud to use your mouth and ears.  Obviously you can’t taste your notes, but you actually can use smell, too.  Choose a scent to smell while you’re studying (perfume, lotion, Febreze, anything), and then spray it right before you take your test, too.  Your brain will connect the smells and help jog your memory.
  4. Background music.  Again, like the location, you must figure out what works best for you when it comes to music and food while studying.  I suggest picking some sort of instrumental music (classical or pop, doesn’t matter), so the lyrics don’t distract you.  However, obviously, if any kind of music is distracting you, turn it all off.  I like to plug in my headphones and listen to music just to block out the conversations around me, which are more distracting.
  5. Snack, don’t stuff yourself.  Eating can also be a distraction, especially if it’s a meal.  Don’t eat an actual meal while studying as it breaks your focus more than helps you.  Save a sandwich for your break to stimulate your brain so you’re ready to get back to the books.  However, I find it helps me study if I have a bowl of candy by me, something I don’t even have to look at; I just reach in, grab a couple and pop them in my mouth.  It will keep yours hands and mouth busy, eliminating more distractions.

When I study, I sit in my bedroom with the door closed either in my bed or at my desk.  I turn on some music, put headphones in if my family is home, and play music that I enjoy but doesn’t make it hard for me to sit still.  I have a small bowl of M&Ms by my side that I eat without looking at the bowl until I reach in for some and can’t find any and get confused that they’re all gone.  Whatever the way is for you, find a way with the least amount of distractions that can help you focus on your studies, and use it every time!

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Jillian Jensen

Jillian Jensen

Jillian Jensen is a junior at the University of Utah majoring in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Print Journalism. Jillian is involved with student government and Greek Row at the U. Her biggest hobbies are writing, traveling and photography, but she also loves playing and teaching piano, skiing, dancing, sports and spending time with her family, friends and dog.
Jillian Jensen

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