During the early days at college, you will be setting the foundations for all your future studies. This is, therefore, a crucial time in tilting you towards success or failure. As with anything new, you will soon form habits, and it is up to you to ensure that those habits are good habits.
There are certain areas of college life and study in which establishing good habits early on can help you towards your goal of good grades and a successful graduation. It is well worth focusing your attention on these areas before arriving at college, and in your first few weeks there. By doing so, you can establish some good study habits, and make your college life run that much more smoothly and successfully. The following are some of the key areas of your new life of college study where you will need solid preparation and attention from the outset.
Acknowledging the Competition
It is the brighter students at High School who will probably be the ones who make it to college and university. You were one of those, but you will notice a big difference in your relative position at college. Whereas before you may have been one of the top students in your class, once you get to college you will just be one of many bright students.
By being aware of this increased competition, and being mentally prepared for it, you are more likely to shine again in your new environment, rather than feeling overawed by the other intelligent students. Also bear in mind that with the right preparation and improvement of your study skills, and by establishing the right habits, you can perform better than even the most intelligent student.
Scheduling Your Time
One of the big differences at college will be the amount of “spare” time you have. You may only have 15 hours of lectures in a week, and it is up to you to schedule the rest of your time. Whether you succeed at college or not may well depend on how well you are able to organize yourself, and schedule your time to best effect.
So long as you are aware of the dangers of wasting that spare time, then you will have a chance of scheduling it wisely. Time management skills are therefore worth acquiring before you even go to college, and there is plenty of useful information online about managing time. Regard time management as an essential study skill, and prepare accordingly. It will stand you in good stead for the future after college as well, as time management is just as important in business or working life.
One thing is certain, and that is college work will be much tougher than High School work. If, after a few weeks, you do not think it is harder, then the chances are you have not grasped what you really need to do to keep up with and on top of your studies. You should go to college expecting to work hard, and then ensure that you do.
Another major difference between the learning methods at High School and college is the need, at college, to take copious notes in the lecture room. You should be mentally prepared for this at a minimum, but, like time management, you can acquire skills on note taking to make yourself more efficient. You will be pressed for time at college, so in every aspect of your study, it is wise to improve your study skill. That includes note taking.
In the lecture room you need to become efficient at taking notes. Outside of the lecture room, you will have an enormous amount of reading to do. Such a volume may seem overwhelming, but reading is another area where you can improve, and thus increase your ability to study effectively. Speed reading is a talent anybody can acquire, and if you can acquire it before you reach college, so much the better.
Once at college, you will be bombarded with information, facts relating to the subjects you are studying. Being great at reasoning and making use of facts is no use if you cannot remember those facts in the first place. Improving your memory is therefore something you will benefit greatly from. Even if you think you have a good memory, you can improve further.
I went back to studying, for a professional qualification, 12 years after leaving school. Not being academic as a student, and having a “poor” memory, I knew I would have great difficulty competing mostly against 21/22 year olds fresh from university. So, I focused on my memory, learnt as much as I could about memory techniques, and that was enough (plus hard work, of course) to not only help me keep up, but in some cases keep ahead of the competition.
Improving memory really does make a big difference to your study prospects, and also in later working life. It is another study skill that will always be with you as you move on to other things after college or university.
By preparing yourself in the areas of note taking, time management, faster reading, and memory, you should have a head start on other students, even if they are brighter than you. By such preparation and focusing on your study skills before going to college, it is you who will appear the brightest, as you come across as well organized, able to grasp and recall facts with ease, and able to get through a lot more work in a shorter time than those around you.