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Being in university or college is an important stage in our lives. It's where we develop our habits, ambitions and organizational and leadership skills.
If you’re in high school, it’s the perfect opportunity to start developing effective studying habits.
If you’re already in college/university, now would be the place to learn how to manage your time and a routine.
There are plenty of people on the internet fascinated by this topic, including me. I’ve been researching this subject and applying it for quite some years now, and I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned in this journey.
1. Don’t cheat, ever. Not only is it unethical, but you will hurt yourself in the process.
As I mentioned before, high school and college are important chapters in our lives, and that's mostly because you’re building the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life.
Ask any psychologist or psychiatrist, and they’ll tell you right away:
“Human behavior is mostly driven by habits.”
Developing good habits is the first step not only to secure an A+ this semester but to secure everything for the rest of your life as a student, an academic or even your career.
By cheating, you’re building a habit of finding the easy way out by avoiding studying, giving yourself to laziness and procrastination (which are realistic demands to overcome). You may get an A+, but you’re condemning yourself to a life of mediocrity. What are you going to do when things get complicated in college, or later in your career?
Would you accept to go under surgery done by a doctor who cheated in class?
The lesson here is this: Build good habits instead!
Your older self will thank you for it.
2. Master the art of taking notes.
Taking notes is the most important thing when watching a class or a seminar. But you can’t just go on writing like crazy. You will not be able to keep up with the teacher if you’re writing down every single word. Instead, learn to write about important stuff like keywords, questions, and examples.
First of all, let's compare the basics: pen and paper or a computer. Each one has its pros and cons.
Using a computer (like a laptop or a tablet) is pretty effective: you’ll be able to write a lot of words and even use the internet to find more information on the topic. The cons are that being on the internet, you’ll be more exposed to distractions like your facebook or twitter, and procrastination is one of the greatest enemies of a student.
Using pen and paper is a cheap and offline option, but the words you will be able to write down while keeping up with the class are far less, which is not necessarily a bad thing: by writing fewer words, you’ll be forced to think a lot more on the subject to form a concise sentence, making you study more effectively while in the class or seminar.
3. Read your textbooks thoroughly.
In high school, it’s quite easy to read and understand your history/science/math books, but as you progress in college or university, it may not be as straightforward as before.
Don’t be shy to make notes on your textbook. If you don’t want to mark your textbooks, an alternative is to use post-it notes.
Try writing questions on a separate piece of paper to test your knowledge after reviewing the textbook. Highlight important topics, sentences, keywords and any information you may find useful.
Finally, I suggest you write a summary of everything you understood in your notebook or computer. Make sure everything is neatly organized so you can access (and understand) it anytime you want.
4. Resting is extremely important!
Have you ever had a tough day trying to understand a concept, and then, on the next day, while you are relaxing before taking a bath, the answer comes into your head? That sudden moment of realization is an important piece of how knowledge is woven together in our brains.
Whenever you’re resting, your brain doesn’t stop your learning. It is still working, but on an unconscious level, organizing all the data and making important neural connections, and that work is made mostly when you’re sleeping, resting or relaxing.
Make sure to book time in your schedule to study to avoid stress interfering with your learning process. Don’t go assuming you can learn difficult concepts minutes before taking a test. Organize your schedule for both studying and resting.
5. Find ways to defeat procrastination.
The internet is a wonderful place and can be our greatest ally. It gives you access to all kinds of information about different subjects. It’s pretty awesome!
But there are some downsides for those trying to build good studying habits: it's way easier to lose yourself in the content and spend hours scrolling down some social networks like Twitter, Instagram or Reddit.
The internet is also the biggest procrastination-enabler in all of human history.
Defeating procrastination is a difficult challenge. My advice is to break your notes into bite-sized chunks to make it possible for you to deepen your interest, instead of thinking of everything to tackle at once.
Unplug from your social media and regulate how many hours per day you’ll allow yourself to dive into it. If you’re serious about focusing your time and energy, you could even suspend those accounts temporarily. It’ll do wonders for your life.
Oh, and one more thing: disable the notifications on your smartphone. Facebook and Twitter notifications are NEVER urgent, they can wait.
Take advantage of tutors, communities, youtube channels and podcasts aiming to help people to be better students and to learn more effectively. Take some time to do some research and listen to what they have to say, it’s always good to know that you’re not alone in your quest to become a better student.
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