Sharon is a recent political science graduate from UC Berkeley. She spent a semester in Washington, DC, where she fell in love with policy research for progressive causes. She is currently contemplating the pros and cons of graduate school for public policy by day and hanging out with LA indie rock bands by night
One of the keys to a successful college career is understanding your own study habits and being able to adapt to that. If you aren’t taking advantage of the hours where you are alert, awake, and focused, then all the cramming in the world won’t help you.
And with that said, here are some tips for taking advantage of your optimal study hours:
- Set alarms! If you are an early riser who gets their work done while other people are still eating breakfast, get up early to take advantage of the hours when your brain is most awake. Similarly, if you stay up late but are at your most alert then, take a mid-day nap so that you can work later in the night without losing steam.
- Schedule your classes according to your study patterns. If you tend to wake early and remain focused between breakfast and lunchtime, those morning classes are where you’ll succeed. If you don’t wake up fully until after ten a.m., then maybe those afternoon, and perhaps night, classes are the better option. Whatever works best for you, roll with it!
- Choose your setting wisely! Do you do your best work in your own room, sitting on your bed with your books around you? Then it might be in your best interest to start studying when your roommate isn’t around, or when they can be expected to remain quiet and let you focus. Do you need the academic setting of a library to stay on task? Then scope out a campus library with seating that you like, lots of power outlets, and the operating hours that work best for you. Claim that seat as your own!
- Keeping yourself fed throughout the day helps keep you focused regardless of what times you work best during. Study snacks and water are extremely important, no matter how many energy drinks you chug. Fresh fruit, pretzels, trail mix… all these are great examples of snacks to keep handy when you’re on that study grind. Personally, I like a little hummus to go with my pretzels. And don’t forget a bottle of water!
Whatever your study patterns end up looking like, I suggest that you take full advantage of it. After all, when else in your life will you be allowed to eat, study, and sleep whenever you want without other obligations?