Studying, testing, and presenting are all important parts of the college and learning experience. These skills are not just for the classroom; you’ll be able to leverage them in your professional life after college, so take the time to hone your skills. We each learn in our individual ways, but we do share some commonalities. These tips and suggestions can be further personalized to increase your success and help you to be more fully engaged in the learning process. Your college search may be over, but your journey for personal and academic growth has just begun!
- Get a truer sense of how you are really spending your time by keeping a journal or log of a normal day and all of the different activities you do, including school work, working, and hanging out with friends, or socializing.
- Make an ordered list of priorities that you can stick to. The list should not exclude anything “extra” or fun; those activities should be accounted for so that you’re not losing out on anything. Time management isn’t a punishment; it’s a way to maximize your time in different ways and creating time for the things you enjoy, too.
- Being flexible is an important part of time management. If something takes you a little longer, but you’ve done it well, that’s a job well done. Build flexibility into your day for the smoothest transition from one task to the next.
- Always be prepared. It is important to come to any class prepared and ready to learn and take notes. That means making sure that you have all materials you will need for class that day, including writing utensils, notebooks, textbooks, etc.
- Experiment with different note taking methods to find the one that works best for your learning and information retention style. If there isn’t a tried and true note taking method you gravitate towards, make up your own. The important thing is to find something that works and to stick with it.
- Review your notes. Notes are no good if you don’t refer back to and study what you’ve written down. Review your notes thoroughly and you might find that you remember something that you might have forgotten to write down; which is fine, just go ahead and add it in for future reference.
- Identify when you are at your best. Some of us are night owls, others are early birds. Find the time of day when you are most alert and focused; use that time to your advantage by studying when you are at your best; you will likely get more out of it.
- Set goals for each study session. With a clear goal, you may not feel as overwhelmed and more able to concentrate on the task at hand. Commit materials to memory before checking it off your list and moving on to the next item.
- Create a space conducive to studying. By creating a space for the purpose of studying, you’ll be able to stay more focused and less distracted. Turn off your cell phone in this space and avoid excessive noise and social media. Some people do study best with a little bit of white noise; so try a bit of low volume music in your study space.
- Use an outline to organize your thoughts and the material that you want to cover. Using notecards is a great way to do this because they can be easily moved around as you work towards the most organized and thoughtful essay.
- If it can be said in five pages, don’t take eight pages to get there. Padding your word count takes away from the point of your writing. Be clear and concise and make sure that each word is working towards your conclusion.
- When writing for an academic purpose, be it for an online degree program or an admissions essay, it is important to use the proper and appropriate language. Do not use slang or overly-casual verbiage.
- Use the resources available to you. There are many different resources out there, including primary and secondary resources. Make the effort to get out and find the resources that best serve your assignment, including the librarians, professors, experts in a given field, and research publications.
- Record each one of your sources in a bibliography. Even if you’re not sure you’ll use the information gathered in your final draft, make sure you always have the source information recorded for you and the person reviewing the work to reference and verify.
- Read and absorb. Don’t just regurgitate what you read, it’s important that you absorb and process that information in order to avoid plagiarism and to ensure that the final work is your own thoughts and findings, backed by verifiable sources.
- You won’t succeed on the test if you’re not in class. The first step of test taking is to attend each and every class in order to gather, learn, and reinforce material that will be on the test.
- Create a schedule that you can follow up to and on the day of the test. This could include elements of studying and positive self-care; as long as all of the things on the schedule are working towards and in support of test day success.
- Give yourself enough time to arrive and settle in before the test begins. Allot for a quick bathroom break and a last minute inventory of your test-taking materials.
- Practice, practice, practice. In front of the mirror, in front of our cat, in front of your parents and/or your peers. Oral presentations can be nerve-wracking and practicing the presentation will only help to increase your comfort level when you stand up to give your presentation.
- Supply handouts and supplemental materials. Doing this will help your audience to remain engaged and helps to keep the presentation and you moving along if there’s something to refer back to in the event that you veer off track.
- If there is a set time, make sure you stick to it. This goes hand-in-hand with time management. Craft your presentation to meet the goal, without too much fluff, in a timely manner that meets the needs of your audience. Be courteous of your audience’s time and attention.