College Life 101: How to Develop Good Study Habits for College

As you make the transition from high school to college, the workload for each course can come as a surprise. Building good study habits for college doesn’t happen overnight, so you want to start by putting a plan in place and taking steps toward a new academic approach.

You already know the answer to the question, “Why are good study habits important in college?” But you may be less clear about how to develop good study habits once you arrive on campus. Before hitting the books, it can actually be important to turn your attention somewhere else: your home.

Put Together a Study Sanctuary

Your first step toward developing the best study habits for college is to designate a space for uninterrupted learning. Whether you live in a shared dorm room or have an apartment off campus, you need to create a study sanctuary. It doesn’t have to be a large space; your sanctuary can be an entire room or simply your desk. Wherever it is, though, keep your space comfortable, clean, organized, and distraction-free.

Creating a dedicated place to call your own where you habitually study allows you to better control your environment, and that’s the first important step in making the grade. Keep reading for additional tips on developing good study habits for college.

A young female college student sits at a desk with a day planner

Develop Your Style

Your next step is to reflect on your study environment:

  • Are you more of an early riser or a night owl?
  • Do you need total silence or background music to help you focus and think clearly?
  • Is it easier for you to study when you break up the task into smaller blocks of time, or would you rather sit at your desk for several hours straight in order to free up the rest of your afternoon?

Take a couple of days to try different approaches and decide on an ideal fit. The best study habits for college look different for every student, so regardless of when you choose to study — or in what volume — it’s important to find a time that works for you. Pushing yourself to study at a time when you’re tired, unfocused, or distracted won’t help you retain the information.

Mark Your Calendar

Once you have a good idea of the conditions and time of day when studying is optimal for you, commit it to your calendar. Block off time for studying the same way you would make plans with a friend — and stick to the plan. If studying isn’t a priority, it’s easy to always put it off until you find yourself frantically cramming the night before an exam. Remember that studying is an investment, and it’s worth the time.

An open laptop and blank paper arranged neatly on a wooden desk

Highlight the Hard Homework

When you set time aside to study, be sure to begin with the hardest subject on your list. Use a highlighter to indicate important passages when reading, and make notes in the margins of your textbook to jog your memory about key ideas.

Prior to class, skim your notes to make sure you’re prepared to answer the professor’s questions. Once you commit the hard stuff to memory, the rest is much easier to learn. This approach can also help keep you from becoming fatigued during a study session.

Pair Up

Nobody said mastering the tough subjects would be simple, especially when you try to comprehend difficult concepts and theories on your own. Instead, join a study group or find a friend from class to review the material together. You can gain a better understanding and commit more to memory when you discuss the subject with classmates.

By observing how others approach studying, you may also pick up a few tips for improving your own study habits. Plus, while your study partners are helping you, you’re helping them in return, which can also be a useful way to learn new or difficult material.

Ask for Help

If you need some one-on-one assistance, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a tutor. Tutors are experts in their subjects and can explain challenging information in ways that might be better suited to your particular learning style. They can also help keep you on task and focused if that’s where you struggle. When you work with a tutor, you are likely to walk away with a better grasp of the concepts and confidence you need for your next exam.

Keep It All Balanced

You can spend hours studying for a quiz or test, but if you don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle, you’re working against your efforts. Stress is compounded when you don’t take care of yourself, so fuel your mind and increase your focus by eating healthy, staying active, and getting plenty of sleep. And don’t forget to take breaks.

It’s okay to push pause on writing a paper or memorizing flashcards to take a walk or throw a Frisbee for an hour with your roommate — as long as you don’t procrastinate and try to do too much at the last minute. Taking breaks can help you return to your study session reenergized and ready to roll.

A female college student sits in a cozy chair and reads a book for college

Once you start learning how to develop good study habits for college, you won’t dread those exams nearly as much. Additionally, it’s helpful to turn your designated study oasis into a comfortable place to hit the books. From student desks to the perfect reading chair, CORT Furniture Rental offers a variety of options with convenient delivery and pickup.

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