College Study Hacks: The Ethical Cheat Code of All Cheat Codes
A Guide to Finesse Study Time So You Can Retain Information as Quickly as Possible
Hello to the worldwide web, it’s Aaron with a few study tips to aid you on your journey to academic success or just to make it through your classes. It’s my senior year, I have a lot of work to do this semester, and this may be one of my hardest semesters ever. I have 20 credit hours, six classes, and 1 internship, but before I graduate, I want to leave everyone with a few study tips that I believe will help them along their journey through college. Whether you’re in undergrad, grad, or post grad, here’s Aaron’s official guide to ethically finesse your study time and your teachers. I’m going to start from the bottom up beginning with the basics of freshman year. If you want to skip all the noob-ish study hacks and discover one of my clever cheat codes for reading comprehension, go to the last study hack.
1) Enter the class room with the mindset of trying to learn something from the material, whether it’s a lesson book, textbook, or online class. Don’t just skip through, you’ll rob yourself twice. Once, because you paid for the classes with student loans or some financially supportive other and used the hard-earned cash for information you don’t plan on retaining. Twice, because you waste your time by not learning something you can use in the future.
And here’s the part where many might say,
“But I don’t see where in my future I’m going to need a 101 class in a field that is ‘irrelevant’ to my major. If I’m going to study law, why do I need to take a religion course? If I’m a music major, why do I need to take life sciences or gen. bio?”
And here’s my advice: you want to be prepared for whatever the future may hold. Even if you never see yourself going into certain career field. You should make use of the circumstance and learn as much as you can because you must take general education classes; and this brings me to my next point: enjoy your general education classes. Again, if you learned the information and truly paid attention, you will have the information already ready to use when you decide to change majors or approach something having to do with the subject. If you should switch majors and you took a class but for whatever reason your school is obliging you to take the course, you can test out of the class, because you remember the information and you took notes. This is primarily assuming you took good notes or have references to cue the information you need.
2) Notes are everything. If you are in the class of your career field, these are especially necessary for the exit exam or after you’ve graduated. You’ll have the quick points to revise what you studied. When you’re working in the field of your choice for a few years, trust me, you gon’ need’em. Notes keep you on your toes.
3) How to write notes… I’m very analytical and thorough with my notes; however, not everyone is like me. The key to taking notes is to write down points or concepts that are constantly repeated in a single lesson. Even though “repetition deepens the impression,” if you understand a concept in class and you’ve made several connections to other things with it, your chances of forgetting it are slim. Don’t take notes of concepts you firmly understand; you will waste time and you’ll be better off writing down the things that don’t make as much sense to you or are difficult to grasp. Notes make it easier to ask questions in class and in tutoring sessions. Nothing bugs a teacher or a tutor more about a student who says, “I don’t understand it!” and cannot explain to the teacher what they don’t understand. I’ve been there and done that, as a student and as a tutor.
4) Study with people when you know it will be effective. No need to judge individuals or write them off as poor study partners, but if they are poor study partners, just be wise about it. Know who you should study with to be the most effective in getting quality study time. And if your study group is down to clown, be focused enough to redirect the group when it veers off track. There are studies in group psychology that show after a certain number of people are assigned to completing a task, the group’s productivity and decision-making speed plateaus and becomes slower than an individual assigned to complete the same task.
5) Time management: This is the big “T” that is key to tolerate the stress that will come from attending school, and I always will say if you learned how to manage your time through college life, then you still learned a trait that is of immeasurable worth. Whether you hate your teachers, the government, or the education system, poor time management sabotages any goals or prospective plans. Even if you want to work for yourself, do what you love and earn your living outside of “corporate America,” time management is a necessity. And unfortunately, poor time management in school can cost you, your grades, a healthier, happier life from: lack of sleep, poor work quality, and always snacking, which equates to poor nutrition.
6) When studying, block out an interval of time. Perhaps, an hours’ worth of reading or 2 hours of reading-response and essay writing. When it comes to revision, I find an hour to be most effective. If you find yourself in an attention deficit try shorter increments like 30 mins or 45 mins. But whether you’re clinically diagnosed or not, a well-balanced lifestyle will improve your focus. Stay hydrated, get sunlight, go running, walking, eat healthy, sleep 7 to 8 hours, only drink caffeinated substances when you truly need them. Leave 5 hours or less of sleep in 2017. Take care of your body and it will thank you.
Reading Comprehension Study Hack
7) Alrighty, here’s my brightest light-bulb, my latest idea to succeed through study time. I present to you the cheat code of cheat codes!
Let’s say you have a 10 page reading or a chapter to read out of a textbook. There are two things you can do to breeze through the reading with as little time as possible: 1) Go immediately to the chapter summary; this indexes the main points of the chapter including the minor details that were probably two sentences long but were concepts the author wanted you to grasp. Whatever you don’t understand, go to the corresponding section to learn more.
2) Considering that the writer of your textbook is writing at a college level, their topic sentences/sub claims should be written at the first sentence of each paragraph. Somewhere between the first sentence and the last sentence is the extra information that helps the reader to understand why the author makes the claim that they do. But if you’re already familiar with the class material, reading the first sentence can be the quickest way for you to get the idea the author is drawing without having to read why. This cheat code works if the author is, I’ll say it again, writing at a college level. Their thoughts and paragraphs should be well-structured and logically consistent. So, to skim with precision, read the first sentence and if you don’t understand the claim then continue to read the paragraph until you get “just enough.”
Lastly, read the last sentence(s); they often revise the main point from the paragraph, especially if it was a long paragraph. This technique doesn’t work for literary genres such as prose, narratives, or poetry, but is excellent and reliable for essays, textbooks, and college level papers (dissertations, term papers, etc.)
My friends, I hope this helped you out very much and you have my well wishes for your college journeys in 2018.
Follow me on IG: @Become.selfless (I’m a blogger, musician/song-writer, minister, fitness-freak, and a vegan)