College is challenging in many ways, and even the best high schools may not properly prepare you for college academics. Many high school students, even those in AP or honors programs, studied minimally and did very well, but this does not hold true for college. However, studying successfully in college doesn’t mean spending hours upon hours memorizing in the library—we’re here to help you find methods to study smarter, not longer.
However, it is still necessary to set aside time to study. A recent study completed at the University of California found that while an average student studied 24 hours a week in 1961, today that number has dropped to 14 hours a week. This may be due to the fact that high school seniors are now (on average) studying less than 6 hours a week. This makes the transition to college even more difficult. Studying in itself is a valuable habit, it builds self-motivation and discipline, and of course is necessary to grasp course material. However, this decline in study hours hasn’t been reflected in a decline in grades, leaving the question of whether students are more efficient or if classes are too easy. The 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement found that 62% of college students studied less than 15 hours a week while receiving As and Bs. This is less than the amount of hours most students spend in class.
So what are students doing with this spare time? Many students are more engaged outside the classroom. Between extra-curriculars, part-time jobs, and internships, many do not have the time to spend 20+ hours a week studying. Others believe that technology like laptops and online search engines have made studying much more efficient, and that is responsible for the decrease in hours. However, 33% of the students surveyed felt they didn’t really know how to sit down and study. So what are the best studying techniques?
The Best Studying Techniques
Studying is a skill—one to be learned, and one that can be consciously improved. The Do’s and Don’ts of Studying include finding what methods work best with your life and personality. It is a common myth that you should always study in the same place. While avoiding distracting study spots is smart, changing around your location will help you retain information because memory is colored by location. Making flashcards is a technique with dual benefits. Writing down information multiple times helps you retain it better, and mnemonic devices add to this effect. Creating flashcards and studying them in a group will help you to better understand difficult perspectives, as your peers may be able to explain them in more colloquial terms than your professor. Another way to make studying less boring is by switching between topics. Spending three hours in a row on one class or topic will result in boredom and a failure to really retain the information.
So remember, studying is an important skill—crack open your textbooks and take the time to study efficiently and you will see the payoff in your GPA and retaining knowledge long after the final exam.
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