Going to college is a huge adjustment because it is a time of change. Once you head off to campus your life begins to transform with all of your new responsibilities and obligations, and this can take some getting used to during the initial transition.

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One of the biggest challenges some students experience is the amount of coursework required. For many new students, it comes as a major shock when they realize the level of studying needed to be successful when pursuing their college degrees. This realization sometimes feels overwhelming because between a full schedule, reading assignments, written homework and research papers it seems almost impossible to throw in several hours of study too. On the plus side, there are many effective techniques students can use to try to adjust and experience good levels of success in college.

10 Top Techniques to Maximize Study Time

1. Find a Quiet Place to Study

For some people, this quiet place falls within the comforts of the dorm room (or at home), or it may mean a trip to the library, coffee shop or some other place to escape distractions. It doesn't matter where the study place is, what is important is the place chosen is quiet and studying can be accomplished without interruptions. Some studies show that students should actually vary their study locations because it helps them better retain information. [3]

2. Turn Off the Electronic Devices

In today's world we are inundated with our phones, TVs, radios, or other electronics. All of these devices are great except they are a constant source of interruption. When it comes time to studying the best way to get any quality work done is to simply turn them off and focus solely on books and notes. This way there are no texts, Twitter or Facebook notifications (or any other social media) creating distractions.

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3. Try to Avoid Cramming

It has been said more information is retained when people study a little at a time as opposed to cramming in a ton of it at once. Some experts even say students will only retain about 20 percent of what they've learned when they cram for tests. [1] While it may or may not help a student pass a test now, in the long run it's counterproductive. Here's why:

  • Usually sleep is compromised
  • The information may be presented on a later exam (i.e. finals)
  • The subject may be a building block to reaching success in courses taken in later later semesters

By breaking up study periods into segments at different intervals, you'll be less stressed out and be able to more easily remember what it is you've been reading. For some people, too much information at once bombards the brain and, if you can avoid this kind of study, you'll probably experience a better level of success and a higher level of retention.

4. Take Easy to Read Notes

If you take good notes during class this helps tremendously when it comes time to sitting down to study later on in the semester, especially for cumulative mid-terms and finals. Notes don't have to be overly detailed, but just enough where you extract the key points and have written them in a way you will understand it later on; sometimes less is more. A good trick is to when you are taking notes is to make a notation in the margin where the information can be found in the textbook in case more information is needed later on when you need to study.

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5. Create a Study-friendly Area

Set up a designated desk or study table where you can keep all of your textbooks, notes and other study aids available. If all of your materials are handy, it's easier to concentrate if you don't have to scramble around your living space trying to find the materials you need.

6. Time Management

This is an important key factor to successful studying. For most of us, studying is not only time consuming, it's tedious. If time is not allotted to study, chances are it doesn't get done. By setting up designated time periods to study, you'll get more work done because it will become a part of your routine. Strong time management skills in college are key.

7. Study at Times You are Alert

As you plan your study schedule, it is best if you can pick a time to study at an hour when you are awake. Burning the midnight oil is necessary sometimes, but sometimes it's not the ideal time to get quality studying done because you're exhausted and retaining information is more difficult when you are tired. You'll get more optimum studying done if you make time to do it when you are more alert.

8. Designate Study Time for Each Class

If possible try to set up a regular period of time designated per class. Obviously, this may vary sometimes depending on deadlines and quizzes which come up, but if you can focus on one subject at a time, this should reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed when you try to study for multiple subjects at once.

Also, regularly meeting with classmates is also helpful. Sometimes, the best information retention comes from working with others. If you can create or join in on study groups, give it a try.

College students/study group
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9. Prioritize Your Studies

This is an important skill to have in college. Since you'll undoubtedly be receiving multiple assignments and due dates at once, you'll need to be able to successfully prioritize these assignments. This includes knowing deadlines and how much work is entailed per assignment. A long-term project will require more time than studying for a quick quiz; if you can prioritize and organize your time to start the project early to leave open time for other assignments which pop up, you'll have a higher degree of success.

10. Plan for Every Hour in Class, 1-2 Hours of Extra Studying

If you quantify how much time you need outside of class to study for your coursework, this will come a long way in helping you with the above tips. Consider using a planner if you need to practice better time management to make sure you're getting enough study time.

Studying can sometimes be hard, but with the right motivation, skills, planning and frame of mind, you can get the work done. And then you can look forward to your next semester.