Juggling the new changes you’ll experience when going into college can be overwhelming and stressful. It’s crucial to find your individual approach to studying in order to best optimize your time. In Freshman year of college, trial and error is your friend. Don’t be afraid to abandon strategies, mix and match, or just stick with your tried and true.
Note-Taking and Study Guides
It’s likely that you’re going to start taking a lot more notes than you used to in high school. This will require a new organization method. Experimenting with different note-taking styles and study guide organization can help you find exactly the type of notes and studying style that works best for you! Here are some strategies you can try out or mix and match!:
- Take down hand-written notes in class. Then, transcribe them into one large document on your computer. This way, you can organize your notes while also reinforcing them in your memory and making a comprehensive study guide for when midterms and finals come along!
- Make general outlines on the readings before class. Then, you can edit, reinforce, and add to them while listening to the lecture in class. This is especially beneficial for someone who prefers to type notes in class, rather than taking hand-written notes.
Pro-tip: Check the syllabus! Some professors dislike or don’t allow the use of laptops for note-taking in class.
- If you are someone who learns best with visuals, making charts and maps can be especially beneficial to your studying time. For example, if you have trouble studying from an outline, make a web chart that includes the main idea in the middle, with details connected to it hovering around the main idea. This way, you can remember concepts as they appear visually connected to the general topics.
Finding your study space
Where you choose to study and do homework is also extremely important and different for each of us. It all depends on the type of person you are.
- Can you block out distractions?
Some people have great focus or a great study playlist to blast in their headphones. But, if you have trouble staying focused you might want to choose a space where there is less potential for outside noise. For example, choose to study in the library rather than the common space in your living area.
- Do you like an open or closed space?
Different locations might be more conducive to the type of work you’re doing. If you are doing more creative work, it could be beneficial to work in a more open and bright space where your mind can think outside the box. On the other hand, if you are trying to focus on memorization, it’s more likely best to stay inside and work at a desk or table.
- Do you like to be around other people while you work?
Some students are just social learners. Even if they are working on different things, they like working on their individual assignments with other people. If you find yourself wanting some company when doing your work, try going to a common space on campus or using your local library. If you prefer to work on your assignments alone, make sure to set yourself up in a space like your bedroom or reserve a private studying room at the library in advance. Remember that it’s important to communicate to your friends and roommates when you need to be left alone. It’s okay to tell them that you need to skip the group study session.
In all, you shouldn’t be scared to try out new strategies and abandon ones that don’t work for you. All of our minds work differently and require different organization and studying strategies to find success.