Establish good study habits
If you didn’t have good study habits in high school or previous college experience, take a study habits tutorial online or a class on-campus to brush up on those skills. These are a few tips to get you started.
- Practice a cram-free life. Last minute project completion and test preparation are not good habits. Plan so you always walk into a test well prepared or have time to review your assignments before turning them in.
- Set your schedule so you can have short periods of study time. It’s easier to concentrate when you split up study time rather than doing a marathon.
- Tackle your toughest subjects when your mind is fresh.
- Read the textbook, even if you have good notes. College lectures don’t cover everything you need to know.
- You will notice that all your tests will fall in the same one- to two-week period. That is another reason to study every day and not wait until just before the exam.
Improve your technology IQ
You can drastically cut your workload in college if you develop basic technology skills. Here are a few things to think about:
- Master the keyboard: No more typing with your thumbs and one finger. You’ll spend a good portion of your time researching and writing emails and papers. The faster you type accurately, the better.
- Learn software basics: Know how to work in Microsoft Office, including Word and Excel. Microsoft Office offers free online lessons to help you with the basics. If you understand this program, you should be able to manage most other forms of software you come across.
- Know your online resources: What are good websites to use when researching, to review your paper to make sure you haven’t plagiarized or to help you write the bibliography at the end of your document?
- Understand security risks: Your computer being hacked can result not only in precious time lost with research and writing papers but could cost you money or compromise your identity. It’s easy to click here and there without thinking of where it takes you. It’s important you know the reliable sites and the signs of a suspicious email to help you stay secure and prevent being hacked.
- Connect wisely: Free Wi-Fi is great but beware of connecting to public networks that are available at airports, restaurants and stores. You don’t know who set them up or who is connecting to them. When possible, only connect to a network you trust.
- Back up your data: More than one student has been in tears because they lost their 40-page paper 15 minutes before they were going to hit ‘print’ or submit it online. Most computers have automatic backup features you can set in case you forget, but the best policy here is to simply save, save, save. When working on an important paper or project, it’s also a good idea to keep an extra copy of your work on a flash drive.
- Learn some jargon: Understand enough technology jargon to be able to research or ask for help when you have computer issues.
Improve writing skills
Most college degrees require some writing, even if you attend a technical college. If a bachelor’s degree or beyond is your goal, you’ll likely be writing many papers, essay answers on exams and presentations. Like anything else, good writing requires practice.
Most of us avoid things we’re not good at. That’s probably OK if it is singing in the choir or playing a game of golf; it isn’t OK when it comes to writing. Take an extra online class or offer to write up proposals at your job for some extra experience.