10 Study Habits to Break BEFORE College

Study habits are made in high school and for some, come pretty easily. In college, you may find that you need to tweak those habits as courses and schedules may be more difficult. Professors will expect you to think critically, analyze information, and defend an opinion. Studying hard will be important to your success.

If you already have good study habits, that’s great! Now let’s cover some of the BAD habits that you’ll want to avoid getting into. We hope these help, but keep in mind it’s best to find the study habits that work for you. What was ideal for us may not be ideal for you!

1. Skipping the Studying All Together

As we said before, it’s normal for some students to never have to study in high school. Testing comes naturally to them. However, whether you studied a little bit or not at all, it’s important to break free of the mindset of “I don’t need to study’ NOW.

Students who didn’t study during high school often get to college and feel absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of coursework they have to get through, the assignments, the tests, and more. And what would make it all easier? If they learned how to study properly. It really does fix so many of the problems first year students face when they first arrive on campus!

2. Skipping the Reading

In high school, you likely went over the assigned readings from the night before in class. But in college, there likely won’t be this close review of the assignment. In fact, in order to participate and understand what is being talked about in any given class, professors expect the students to have done the reading the night before! Without that knowledge, you could be misunderstanding the coursework.

Reading the material just before your class also helps you retain the information as you are priming your brain. You’ll be in a better position to get more out of the lecture, participate in any discussions, and contribute in a meaningful way.

At the end of the day, professors can tell who has done the reading and who hasn’t. Being on top of your assigned readings will help you stand out.

3. Failing to Organize Your Life

College is a busy time. You’ll have a lot going on and your energy will be divided between your academic, social, and personal life. Do yourself a favor and invest in a planner. Don’t just assume you’ll get it done at some point. You may have gotten by without one during high school, but college is about to get a lot more hectic!

Make sure you are blocking out time in your schedule for studying, homework, relaxation, and exercise. If you’re working on top of your college schedule, you might just need to pencil in sleep, too!

By blocking off time for specific activities, you’re keeping yourself on track and giving yourself a better chance of following through on the task. You may even want to take it a step further and create shorter study and homework blocks for each of your classes!

4. Studying Wherever

While reading on the bus can definitely help you cram in that last bit of information, it shouldn’t be the norm. You’ll likely have a hard time focusing between the chatter on the bus, the constant stops (and checking for your stop), and the bumps in the road. And while your roommate can study in bed, can you do that without falling asleep or taking that “much-needed nap” that you didn’t need before you climbed into bed?

The space in which you choose to study can have a large impact on your recall and productivity. And it’s important to choose wisely. While you likely have a nice, big desk in your dorm room, how is the lightning? Is the chair comfortable? Is your computer or phone too distracting being right next to you? If you’re constantly fidgeting or getting distracted, you’re not likely to get a lot of work done!

Many people sincerely excel in the library or outdoors when it comes to studying. These two spots tend to be relaxing and comforting, with many people understanding that if you have your nose in a book, you’re not to be distracted!

Of course, the library may not be the best for you either – it could be your bed! Whichever it is, make sure you find the right spot for you.

5. Listening to Lyrics

Did you know that music can help you retain information? Classical music in particular tickles a part of our brain that lets us keep details that can make a difference on the test. But, on the other hand, music with lyrics can be sincerely distracting for others. You could find yourself reading and rereading passages because you got distracted by the chorus or your favorite song just came on and you have to dance, forgetting your work in the meantime.

And as your coursework becomes more difficult over the years, the harder it will be to retain that information if you’re listening to some of your more intense Daily Mixes on Spotify. Instrumental in particular can be relaxing while giving you the added benefits of being able to retain information and relax to music at the same time.

6. Studying with your Distracting Friends

We all have them – friends who are happy, energetic, and great to be around, but also extremely distracting. They could be trying to show you something on TikTok, complain about a class, or talk to you about somewhere in town they just have to take you to… while you’re trying to study.

While they may be in the same courses as you, if they have a hard time sitting down and studying and they’re your study partner, you’re going to have a hard time sitting down and studying, too. 

It’s okay to study with friends (and have fun doing it), just make sure your study patterns and goals are aligned at the same time!

7. Pulling All-Nighters and Cramming

Pulling all-nighters and cramming before tests during college is more likely to hamper rather than help. As we stated above, part of college and its exams is understanding how to critically think. If you’ve been up all night before your exam, how well do you think you’re going to be able to think come test time? And that information you did try to memorize is likely not to come easy if you’re exhausted.

Studying over time rather than all in one night allows you to increase your exposure to the material and better retain it. And this is true for assignments, too. You don’t want to be scrambling in one evening to write and research an entire 12-page paper that is poorly written when you can work on it over several days and weeks and improve your grade.

8. Eating and Drinking Junk

Caffeine can be a godsend when you have those 8 am classes. A trip to get ice cream with friends can be a great reward for passing a difficult exam. But drinking coffee, consuming energy drinks, and snacking in excess during studying may not be the best approach in college years. The caffeine can be distracting and keep you up all night, and snacking can give you an excuse to miss meals which cuts into your brain power. 

If you do decide to drink or eat while you study, be sure it’s in moderation! You might also want to consider adding some healthy snacks like celery, carrots, and other fruits to your study routine. Healthy eating habits are good for not only your brain but also your health!

9. Missing Review Sessions

High school teachers sometimes offer additional assistance after the 9th period. Did you know professors sometimes offer the same deal? While you might have been able to skip the assistance in high school, there are plenty of benefits to attending review sessions offered by your college instructors. 

During these sessions, students can ask questions about the subject material they’re struggling with – many attending may realize they didn’t fully understand either; they just needed it explained again! And you can answer your own questions, too. Attending review sessions also demonstrates to the professor that you are fully invested in the class. If you’re sincerely struggling in class, this extra step could mean the difference between passing and failing!

10. Multitasking

Many of us consider ourselves to be good at multitasking. While that can be an excellent trait in some aspects of our life, it’s not one that should be practiced while studying. In fact, it can negatively affect your entire studying session! By unplugging from the rest of your responsibilities and solely focusing on the coursework in front of you (with breaks, of course), you can fully engage in the material.

Studying doesn’t always come easy – especially if you didn’t need to study while you were in high school. As a result, many of us have bad study habits that can linger if we don’t cut them off ahead of time! By being aware of the 10 above, you can start to improve your own approach to studying before you even reach college! 

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