How I Learned to Study for College the Hard Way

College is not high school. Not even remotely. Every single aspect of college is a total 180 from what you’re used to after attending 4 years of high school. The social life is different, the schedule, the living situation, the food, the responsibility, the expectations, the students, the teachers, and most importantly- the studying. If you go into your first semester of college expecting to study like you did for your classes in high school, well, let’s just say you should be finding a job really soon. It’s not going to work.

If you’re like me, I took all honors courses in high school and made practically all A’s (despite one B- thanks Mrs. Yankee) with much ease. I rarely studied at all. And when I did it was maybe 2 hours for my Anatomy final and that’s about it.

Once I began my first semester, I quickly realized that even my hardest courses in high school were a joke compared to the courses I was embarking upon at Union.┬áMy lectures were short and we didn’t have nearly enough time to go over all of the information that we would be tested over. Which left us with hours of studying and learning on our own, not simply reviewing or refreshing our minds on what we already had been taught (like in high school).

This was a completely new world.

This is not what I has been used to. It was unexpected. Sure, I had anticipated that college courses would be more difficult, but I figured the material would just be harder (which it is) but I wasn’t expecting to have to study 20+ hours and 2 weeks in advance for one exam.

I got super overwhelmed and stressed out. I felt like I was drowning in textbooks and an insane amount of material. It felt impossible to be able to efficiently study and be prepared for all 6 tests within two days of each other. Not to mention keeping up with all my actual assignments, rushing and joining my sorority, getting used to living with 3 strangers, making new friends, and finding time for my boyfriend. There was so many new things and so much change going on at such a rapid pace. It felt unmanageable.

It was hard to accept when I failed my first huge biology test. I thought that I had studied so well and hard and I felt prepared. Not so much after I took the test. But I had never failed a huge test before and I was devastated. I realized I needed to find a new and effective studying technique.

I began to study harder. I pre-planned my entire week and wrote out when my study time would be and I stuck to it. I would get out of class and go back to my dorm and read the chapter we had gone over in class-and then reread it and reread it again. Except I really read it and understood it. I didn’t just skim and mindlessly read with actually taking in the information like I may have done before. I would make time to rewrite my notes out and go over subjects that I didn’t fully understand. I watched Youtube videos, I wrote out diagrams, I made flashcards, I was in study groups, I did everything I could to be prepared for the next exam.

And it worked. I did significantly better. I was thrilled. I learned that the key to studying successfully in college is to be prepared and to plan out your studying and stick to it. If you have a plan to follow it’s much easier to stick to then if you just decide to impromptu study whenever. It really works. If you’re struggling with finding a successful studying technique, I definitely recommend preparing, planning, and not procrastinating.

Anna Cook

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