Posts by Melissa Schmalenberger:
With school in session, many students are feeling the crunch of having to get it all done with limited hours. We are all over scheduled and over tired. We try to do everything and try to say yes to everything. But remember the power of the word “no”.
This year my middle son started college and I write this with him in mind. I remember when my oldest went to college and he said he went from high school wondering what questions on tests he got wrong to in college, wondering what questions he got right. All of a sudden, school was harder and having to balance work, activities and school became more difficult. Most college students work and some even have families. This can be a challenge. Throw in moving away from home and no longer having the nagging voice of a parent reminding them to get the homework done can be an adjustment.
So I hope I have instilled in my children good study habits. My study habits were “wait until the last possible minute and cram everything in and go into panic mode.” Hopefully they can learn from my mistakes and make better choices.
1. Find a place to study that works for you. This may mean a quiet section of the library. Or laying on your bed with headphones in. All dorm rooms are equipped with desks, but usually dorm rooms are the least quiet spot. Dorm room desks are used to give the parents the illusion that their child is going to sit there all the time and be studious. As an organizer, I find dorm desks a waste of good space. Multipurpose the space and use it as a bookcase. In dorms, people stop in and distract you and it could take hours to get back on track. If you are a college student and have a family, you may need to be creative with this. It could be early morning hours on your kitchen table before anyone wakes up. It could be a local coffee shop. Experiment and find a place that works for you and your needs.
With laptops and smart phones, we are no longer tied to a desk. My middle son would take a book to the zoo and read. There was something relaxing that he found at the zoo. Being unconventional is ok as long as you are getting the work done.
2. Schedule heads down time. It is always good to schedule things that may be overlooked. Sometimes we just try to fit in studying into empty pockets of time in our day. If we get an invitation to do something fun, we will say yes and those empty pockets will evaporate. But schedule the heads down time. Because what would happen if you had regularly scheduled hours of the day that you use for studying?
3. Keep track of deadlines early on. Make sure you know when papers are due and what dates tests will be. Put them in your calendar system now. Knowing that you have two papers due on the same day will be an important thing to know early on for planning.
4. Turn off distractions and unplug. This could be social media, email and text messages. Once we get distracted it could take us hours to get back on track. If need be, reward yourself and take a break every hour and use the break time for getting plugged back in.
5. Plug in headphones. I find headphones are the universal sign of “don’t bother me.” When I have my headphones on and my head down people don’t approach me and I can focus for long periods of time. I may appear anti social but I am getting work done.
6. Keep your study materials organized. More and more school work is being condensed electronically. We don’t go through reams of paper and notebooks. I think this year my middle sons college books cost under $100. Even in high school, my youngest was given a PLD, or personal learning device. His Chemistry class is taught using upside down learning and the instruction is done via video that they watch at home. Class room time is used for questions. So it boils down to making sure your laptop is organized. Learn how to use folders and cloud storage.
7. Know when to join a study group. This was essential when I was in law school. Some classes simply have the need for a study group. Talking to students who took the class ahead of you should help you determine the need. Don’t make the group too large or scheduling of the group will become a logistical nightmare.
8. Know when to hire a tutor. Not all classes are easy. Knowing early on that you need help is better than realizing it the night before the final. Finding a tutor is easy. I had a Latin tutor who happened to be the graduated student working with my Latin professor. Colleges want you to succeed and there are resources if you just ask.
9. Take a speed reading class. Sometimes you just need to learn to read faster. I read very fast but comprehend little. My middle son reads slowly and comprehends it all. I think finding the middle ground is perfect and usually a speed reading class is just what you need to find the ability to read quickly and also comprehend.
10. Know when to drop a class. In graduate school, my husband had one class that it took the average person several tries to pass. Unfortunately it was taught by only one person who was highly intelligent but lacked basic communication skills. If you find yourself in that situation recognize it early on and talk to your advisor about options.
11. The mom in me wants to remind you to get plenty of sleep, eat your fruits and vegetables. Hang out with friends who are good influences on you. Limit your alcohol (if of age) and caffeine consumption and increase your water consumption. Take time to exercise and don’t have too much fun!
It is early fall and now is the time to evaluate your study habits. Have an organized school year!
to joyful, organized simplicity,
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