January 27, 2017 by Matthew Brooks
Creating good study habits is hard and keeping them can be close to impossible. The easiest way to establish these study habits is by creating a study schedule that you can maintain. While not every student needs to have a schedule that they follow, many students can benefit from it. Personally, I have always found that the use of a schedule makes college life a lot easier.
A large part of having a good study schedule is time management. In my first term at Drexel, whenever I would receive a lengthy assignment for one of my classes, the first words to come out of my mouth would be, “I don’t have time for this.” While this seemed true then, I quickly realized that I had plenty of time; I was just managing it poorly.
When setting up a schedule, you should consider how much work you are normally given weekly, along with how much time you will need to complete any extra or unexpected work you may receive.
Picking days and times for a schedule can be difficult, so don’t overdo it with the number of hours you are going to study for. You’ve probably heard people say that you should study roughly three hours for every one hour you spend in class.
This is a good place to start, but it varies a lot depending on the person. Studying too much can be very bad for your brain, so when you are picking the number of hours that you are going to put into studying daily, pick a number that is comfortable for you. The number of hours you select should allow you to get all your work done by a reasonable time and it should keep you from studying to the point where your brain turns to mush.
Devote certain times and days to studying certain classes. For example, I have a math lecture in the morning every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m up early enough in the morning to have breakfast and study the material that will be covered in class that day. Some people like to go to class first and then study the material afterwards. While this does work, I find that studying prior to class is more effective because it gets your brain functioning in the proper mode. It will also improve your ability to focus in class.
As important as studying is to be successful in college, we must also remember to set aside time for ourselves and our daily needs. We all have things that we like to do in our free time; a good example of this would be watching Netflix.
Netflix can become our best friend in college, so we’re going to find a way to get around to it regardless of how much work we must do. However, it is generally best to save an indulgence like this for the weekend. The reason for this is that if you try and cram your daily dose of Netflix into a weekday, it’s probably going to end up taking you away from your studying.
There are some people who can fit something like this into a weekday if they have enough free time, but some of us can’t. If you hold off until the weekend you will be able to binge watch your favorite show uninterrupted, which is far more enjoyable than trying to watch two or three episodes each night, when you’re more likely to be interrupted by something or someone. You will also have already completed all of your work, which is a nice feeling.
Now, once you have put together a study schedule that works well, it can be incredibly difficult to stay true to it. I was all over the place during my first term, and there were times when I completely broke away from my schedule, which did not end well for me.
A solid way to keep yourself from deviating from your schedule is to start out small. Don’t immediately tell yourself that you are going to stick to your schedule for the entire term. That’s a good way to end up getting discouraged about a quarter of the way through. Start out by trying to go a few days with the schedule, then try a week, then try two and continue to work your way up from there at a pace that you are comfortable with.
The main reason behind having a study schedule is so you can work at a steady pace, avoid cramming and develop strong study habits all at the same time. And believe it or not, it will also keep you from having to deal with unnecessary stress — a college student’s deadliest foe.