By Alexandria Sese > Sophomore > English > University of Illinois at Chicago, Photo by Catherine Finsness > Sophomore > Psychology > The George Washington University
“There’s a difference between studying and studying effectively,” says Dr. Robert Kizlik Ph.D., educator and creator of Adprima.com—an education resource for students and teachers. According to findings in the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, 45 percent of 2300 undergraduates have not improved on critical thinking, reasoning and writing in the first two years of their college careers.
For the frightening amount dedicated just to tuition fees, it sounds like many students are not making the most of their investment. With a few effective studying tips, you can avoid being part of that 45 percent:
1. Do More
Read more, write more, and think more. The only way to improve your thinking, reasoning, and writing (or anything else for that matter) is to constantly practice it. To push yourself to your fullest potential, challenge yourself by taking tougher classes.
2. Don’t Expect the Same
The “fake it until you make it” mentality won’t get you far in college. When students study, with distractions and without interacting with the material, “they are only engaging in the illusion of studying,” says Kizlik. “It’s self-deception.”
3. Do Keep a Schedule
Kizlik strongly recommends keeping a study schedule that you can realistically stick to. It’s easy for students to lose track of their studies when they are multi-tasking.
4. Don’t Go in Blind
Much like the preparations you made when choosing your major, prepare for the course you plan to take as well. “Talk to some people who either are taking [the course] or took it and see what the teacher does,” says Matt Yeatman from North Carolina State University. This gives you an idea of how to approach the class and how it will fit in with the rest of your semester’s course.
5. Do Watch Out for Study Groups
While studying with friends can make the experience more enjoyable, studies based off the Collegiate Learning Assessment find that “social engagement generally does not help student performance” (Associated Press). Come to your study group prepared so that you can reinforce the material you’ve learned by teaching your peers.
6. Don’t Underline
Highlighting triggers a better impact on visual learning because, according to Kizlik, it differentiaties from the underline text already found in textbooks.
7. Do Give Yourself a Break
Kizlik advices students to refrain from studying 30 minutes before sleep despite studies claiming that sleep helps with long-term memory. “Your brain needs some downtime,” he says. “Besides if it (studied materials) is there, it’s there.”
8. Don’t Read Aloud
If a novel was assigned for your class, reading aloud is not only exhausting but also slows you down significantly. “Your own voice can be a distraction itself,” says Kizlik. Instead, read with your eyes, with purpose, with questions, and with a pen to take notes with.
9. Do It for Yourself
Your motivation should stem from the desire to learn for yourself. Your college career is an investment and a gift for yourself. Doing it for other people will wear your motivation away. “Motivation is fundamental,” says Kizlik. Without it, any kind of studying will not amount to personal accomplishment you seek.
10. Don’t Plug In
The most common and overlooked problem that faces college students is distraction. Having earphones plugged in while studying count as distraction. Even though many are used to listening to music, watching television, talking or eating while studying, focusing your attention on one activity at a time will help you make the most of your time studying.
At the end of the day your college career is a valuable investment in yourself and it’s wise to engage in it more to reap the rewards later on. Studying effectively will save you time, money and, quite possibly, your sanity.