Welcome to Your College Career
You may find you have to make adjustments to your old study habits. “In high school I didn’t really have to try. My teachers were understanding, and there wasn’t a lot of out-of-class work,” says Alexis King, a junior at Spelman College. “My transition to college was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I had to learn time-management skills as well as the best times for me to take classes. All in all, it was a difficult adjustment but one that was still feasible.”
During your first 30 days at college, try different study techniques to see what works for you. For instance, some students purchase recording devices and then play back lectures later. Talk to other students to find out what works for them, or for more ideas, look through books that focus on college study habits.
Stephanie Dahle, an NYU student from Minnesota, felt the academic stress from the beginning, so she made adjustments along the way to beef up her study habits. “I thought I would flunk out of NYU,” she says. “For the first time in my life, I had to study a lot! Reading became an activity, with a pencil, pens and Post-It flags.” Stephanie also found it helpful to make flashcards and rewrite her class notes.
Commuter students face different studying challenges, such as finding a good place to study and accessing the information they need. Flynn suggests making your home as study friendly as possible by setting up a reliable internet connection and purchasing required texts for home use.
You may also want to find locations other than your bedroom for studying or hanging out. When Raj was commuting, he spent a lot of time on campus, because his home was so far away. Eventually his family made the decision to ease the strain of his long commute. “My family moved closer to my college, so I didn’t need to spend so much time commuting,” he says. “After I moved, my approach to studying at home changed. I started studying at nearby cafes and bookstores.”
If changing your study habits doesn’t help you achieve the grades you’re after, you may want to enlist some help. “Go to tutors’ and professors’ office hours,” says Rich. Going over things one-on-one can make a huge impact.”
Even if your grades do take a downward turn during the adjustment process, don’t be too hard on yourself. “Don’t panic if you have a difficult time adjusting to your course load, teachers or a lecture hall with 300 students,” says Rich. “College and high school are very different.” Rich suggests learning as much as you can about your school and what is expected of you, and then working to improve your grades by the end of the semester.