7 Tips for Surviving College Homework Assignments

College isn’t like high school, you’ll have more homework assignments, more research papers to write, and more exams.  As a result, you’ll have to spend a lot of time studying and completing assignments.

There’s a chance that you’ll have more reading assigned for one of your college courses, than you did for an entire semester in high school.  And, depending on what classes you take, the reading will be more dense and difficult.  This can cause a lot of students a considerable amount of stress.

The solution to getting through all of your college reading assignments is not to use the same reading techniques that you normally used in high school, but rather to master the skill of college reading.  You must have a plan of attack for each book or article that you read; this means prioritizing each reading assignment by focusing on certain sections and mastering the art of skimming.

Below are some helpful study techniques for college students:

1.  Pay Attention In Class. Your professor will likely tell you which sections of the reading are most important or indirectly place more emphasize on certain sections than others.  A lot of professors will assign way more reading than you’ll be able to complete, given your other homework assignments, but if you pay attention in class and learn to focus on the main concepts, then you should be able to prioritize just fine.

2.  Understand the Material (In general). If you don’t comprehend what you’re reading, then it will be even harder to complete your reading assignments.  Before diving right in to read the article or textbook passage that you’ve been assigned, take a few minutes to flip through the pages and read the subtitles.  This will give you an idea of the topics you’ll be reading about, how the information is organized, and which sections of the reading correlate with what was being taught in class.

3.  Read Introductions. Don’t skip past the introduction.  The introduction gives you a good idea of the points covered in the reading assignment.  Usually, introductions will give you an idea of how the material is ordered as well.

4.  Learn to Prioritize. As a college student, you’ll always have something that has to get done immediately.  Managing your time and working on a limited time schedule is a large portion of what college is all about.  When completing reading assignments, find the most important sections of the material and read those first.

5.  Take Notes or Highlight. Taking notes or highlighting your textbooks really helps you remember the information that you read a lot better.  Do not try to write down everything you read, but rather focus on the key topics and important details.

6.  Learn to Skim. Unfortunately, there’s no secret to skimming.  You will have to determine which skimming method works best for you.  You might try reading the introduction and reading the first and last couple sentences of each paragraph.  Skimming is a great way to get through those parts of the reading assignment that don’t seem to be that relevant to what you’re learning in class.

7.  Take Breaks. Your mind will get bored with reading tons and tons of information, so you have to give yourself a break from all the reading.  Take time to yourself – go outside for some fresh air, go get a cup of coffee, go visit a friend down the hall for a few minutes….just give your brain a break.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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