Study skills for college students

Martin Black graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 2013 with a degree in Mass Communication with a minor in Business Administration. He was involved in Greek Life, Hillel, and FreshCampus as well as working many side projects and internships during his time at LSU. Martin was also the account executive of the student-run PR firm that helped his school be declared a tobacco free campus. He is currently testing his academic skills at LSU Law School.

College is the time of your life. It is the freest you have ever been and (likely) the freest you ever will be. As a freshman, this free time will be the most unusual lifestyle shift you have ever experienced. It is what most people love about college. You can fill this time with socializing, studying, eating, going out, getting involved, etc. For most students, what you do in your free time is as important as what you do in the classroom. I have a bit of advice for the best way to utilize this free time: excel in class. Trust me, this makes everything easier. Schoolwork is the main cause of stress for college students; not that you needed to be told that. Imagine trying to, for example, relax by playing a game of N-64 with your floor mates while knowing you’re close to failing a course. If you care about your future, it’d be darn near impossible. As someone who considers your free time in college as important as the education you receive, I want to give you my 4 step plan to ace a course.

1. Go to class

This one sounds easy enough but it might be the most important. I went to a very large university, which made ditching class incredibly easy in most of my classes. Skipping was my biggest temptation in school and probably my biggest downfall (term used loosely). The easiest thing you can do to ace a class is to go to it. Seriously. Just get up and go. Even if you don’t take notes (you should take notes!), just be present. It makes a difference, trust me.

2. Study in advance

This feels weird writing about because I was a serial breaker of this rule. I spent so many nights staying up until dawn cramming because I hadn’t prepared in advance and you know what? I always regretted it. For a while, cramming was when I did my best work. I would be focused and zeroed in on what I was doing. It took until my senior year to realize I could go in “cram mode” whenever I wanted to. Save yourself the headache (and the sleep!) by studying AT LEAST three days in advance of an exam.

3. Make a calendar/planner

Finally. Something I was always good at. Write down your assignments, folks. It’s easy to forget when things are due especially when you are juggling 5+ classes. You do not want to miss out on points due to oversight. It is the worst feeling. I got a B in one of my foreign language courses because I forgot to turn in one homework assignment. One. I still get angry with myself for that one. This is a great thing to do during syllabus week.

4. Make a friend

I started doing this sophomore year. In a perfect world, you’ll have a friend in every class, but this is not always the case. If it is not, talk to the person next to you, behind you, whatever. You need a buddy in a class. Period. You need someone so you can ask each other questions, talk about the material, or study together. It helps so much and it’s comforting to not feel alone in a course.

If you follow these steps, you will be setting yourself up for success. Excelling in the classroom allows you to enjoy and utilize that free time we all value so much. It takes small, consistent efforts to succeed. If you remember this, take it one day at a time, and make sure you follow these steps, you will be in great position to achieve real success in college.

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