‘Smart’ studying habits: Wise words for freshmen

Lisi Ludwig/Staff

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For us uninitiated freshmen, the prospect of our very first dead week and taking final exams may feel daunting. If you’re feeling lost or stressed, you’re not alone. Learning to inculcate productive study habits can go a long way in leaving you confident and ready!

I’ve found that what works best for me is to sit down at the beginning of the week and make a rough plan for what I must accomplish each day. I say “rough” because even the best laid out plans don’t work out sometimes. I prefer leaving out a couple of hours of unscheduled time to make up for what I may have missed.

Now that we’ve got the scheduling done, let’s talk about developing smart study habits. My mom’s No. 1 study mantra that I never failed to hear back in high school was, “Study smart, not hard.” For instance, switch up the subjects you’re studying every couple of hours so that it doesn’t feel monotonous. The same goes for where you’re studying. Always working at your desk in the dorm can leave you feeling demotivated after a while, so try the libraries, study lounges or one of the Clog’s favorite study spots! Moreover, please carry all your study materials, water bottle, jacket and whatever else you could possibly need when you begin studying. There’s nothing worse than going to the library and realizing you’ve left your charger back in the dorm. Lastly, I find that studying with other people, even if we’re not necessarily studying for the same classes, pushes me to do better when I feel like slacking off.

Another “smart” study habit that worked wonders for me back in high school was following a study “ritual” before I started studying, such as listening to a particular song. After a couple of times, your brain gets wired to recognize the ritual as a signal to begin concentrating and get into the zone.

One of my high school teachers’ advice that’s especially relevant in college is to practice training your brain to focus during the time of the examination. So, if you happen to have 8 a.m. exams, it’s definitely not a good idea to be studying late and waking up at 10 a.m. even if you’re a night-study person.

One of the biggest things I’ve realized that negatively impacts our study experience is that we tend to emphasize so much on the “result” or the “product” that we lose focus on the actual “process.” Earlier, the thought of “What if there’s a question I don’t know how to solve?” or worrying about my grade for a class would take over, leaving me incapable of studying effectively. I know it’s easier said than done, but paying more attention to the actual process of studying and ignoring thoughts about the final result can have a positive influence!

Finally, and you must be tired of hearing this, get a sufficient amount of sleep every night! Sleep is associated with reduced anxiety and your brain is begging you for that much needed rest!

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it’s to study smart, not hard! So to my fellow freshmen – we’ve got this!

Contact Nandita Radhakrishnan at [email protected].