How I’m successful in college.
College is… hard. It doesn’t matter if you are one of the smartest people in your graduating class or a middle-of-the-way kid like I was, college comes with it’s own trials.
Classes you think you should excel in could be extremely challenging. Taking your first class in your major is always terrifying; a desire to excel and be the best always pushes you to do your best. But, how do you work under pressure? Do you know what kind of student you are? How you study? How you retain information?
If you’ve been in college for any amount of time you may already know how you study and what you need to do to be successful. If you’re a first timer, or if you’re just not sure how to commit to school, it can be hard.
So today, I’m posting about my personal tips-and-tricks for a successful semester!
Before you even get into class, you have to get organized. Being organized is vital in being successful in almost any part of your life. This means different things for different people. Here are a few things I need to stay organized!
I would not be successful without a planner. I can’t remember anything if I don’t write it down or put it on a calendar. I don’t even need a consistent planner layout, although I try to achieve that as frequently as possible, I just need it written down.
The fullness of my planner definitely depends on the fullness of my week, but it helps to write things down no matter how much or little you’re needing to do something!
You’ll notice my planner has highlighted due dates, and extra sticky-notes stuck on the inside. This is what a busy week looks like for me. I also write little positive notes of affirmation in my planner, because in the pits of mid-semester tests and papers, you can feel like you’re drowning. Little notes and positive affirmations can help, even if it seems corny!
There are so many different planners with different layouts, structures, purposes, etc. You can find a planner that fits your needs and laid out in a way you feel most organized. I got my planner from Half Priced Books a while back, and every Half Priced is different, so I couldn’t find the exact one I hav. Another really great place to find a planner is Michaels and Target!
You can’t tell from the photo above, because I didn’t have any really great pens that I liked last semester, but a good set of multi-colored pens goes a long way if you can stick to a color code. I’ve just recently found some really awesome pens from Paper Mate that I’ll link here. These pens are expensive, and it took me a long time to commit to buying my own pack, but I swear by them now and even though I don’t love spending the money, I love these pens! Paper Mate (and other really good pen brands) make other multicolored pens.
A *clean desk
Alright, I’m gonna get real here, my desk is not always clean. There is an asterisk next to ‘clean’ because I work totally fine in an unclean work space until… I get stressed. Being in a messy room or having a messy desk when I’m overwhelmed with tough school work makes that stressed and overwhelmed feeling ten times worse.
What I’m basically saying is that I don’t always follow this advice, but it’s good advice to anyone who has a desk in their room: keeping an organized desk space does really help keep you focused and calm when studying. If you can keep your desk in order, it helps keep you focused and organized, and that is really important when studying. Plus, having a clean work space keeps me inspired and happy!
After you’ve created an organized space, the next big thing is class!
If you’re a college veteran, you know this, and if you’re a freshmen I’m sure you’re already hearing this advice a lot: GO TO CLASS!
It’s dumb to miss because you’re only going to get out of school what you put into school. You do a lot better by just being in class and paying attention. Everyone skips sometimes, and you might even figure out what classes you can skip without really being at that big of a loss, but you shouldn’t miss unless you absolutely have to.
Put your phone away.
Most of your professors are going to tell you that having your cell phone out is against their syllabus policies, so you might as well just put it up. Some professors might tell you that you can have your phone out if you’re looking things up and you might be inclined to “look stuff up” to just scroll through your phone.
You don’t retain anything if you’re on your phone. There’s no way to successfully multitask and take proper notes or immerse yourself into the lecture (even a boring one) if you’re scrolling through Twitter.
I know a lot of people from my graduating class said things like, “That’s dumb? Why would I text in a class I’m paying for?” and I’m here to tell you: you’re going to do it. If you figured out how to text in high school, you’re going to figure out how to do it in college. Everyone has done it.
This also goes for your laptop too. If you take notes on your laptop, but you have the urge to open a tab and start scrolling through Twitter or Facebook, maybe try taking notes a new way. Buy a pack of multi-colored pens and start jotting things down in different colors. Try to stay off of your electronics in class. It’s really honestly more helpful than you think.
Learn how you learn.
Most of us know that everyone process information differently, so it’s important to know how you process information. It helps you develop in class habits and study habits.
According to prezi.com, There are four different kinds of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Each and every professor you have knows this, however, whether they apply that information to their lectures is really up to them. You can’t control that, what you can control is how you take the information relayed to you and apply it.
I am a reading/writing and visual learner. Writing things down, making flashcards, reading, and organizing notes helps me understand my material. Creating flashcards for two semester of non-major science classes is the only reason I made A’s in Bio 1 and 2. I also need to visually see what you’re telling me in subjects that I’m not the best in. If you can show me how to do a math problem a several times, I can get it down. If you can walk me through how to a science experiment, I’ll be able to do it.
If you’re more of an auditory learner, you’ll do better when you listen to a lecture/lecturer than when you’re required to write things down or read through a book. If you are more of a kinesthetic learner, you’ll thrive when you have a chance to get up and get your hands dirty. Kinesthetic learners thrive when they have the option to do experiments!
Understanding your learning style is vital and to doing well in college. You’ll be digesting a lot of information over the next four years, and you’ll be better off if you know how you best digest it.
Learning how you learn will also help you when you study. Like I said earlier, I need to write things down, see things, and read to better comprehend material. If you’re auditory, you might ask a professor if you can record certain lectures. If you’re more of a kinesthetic learner, you might want to try and take study breaks in between chapters or problems.
Here are some of my favorite study tips:
Make a playlist.
My study playlist is the best and most relaxing playlist on my Spotify. There have been many studies done on what kind of music to listen to when you’re studying or reading and almost all of them come to the conclusion that you should be listening to classical music.
A good mixture of melodic tones and some soft voices helps me study, and so my personal Study playlist is a mixture of the soundtrack for the 2017 film Call Me By Your Name because it is quiet literally the perfect mixture of soft lyrics (shoutout to Sufjan Stevens) and classical music. The playlist also has other Sufjan Stevens songs and a bunch of other very famous classical music like Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”.
Playlists help me focus and also block out all other noise!
The library and your desk
There are tons of different places to study. A lot of people study in coffee shops, a lot of people study in their rooms, at their desks. And a lot of people study in their school or public library.
Most everyone studies at all three places though.
If you’re going to study in your room, my best piece of advice is get a desk. You will inevitably get bored, irritated, or tired when you’re studying. If you choose to study by sitting in your bed, you’re much more inclined to get comfy and be lazy. Also, studying in your bed makes your bed a stressful space and, as goofy as it might sound, you don’t want your sleeping area to be stressful. Sleeping is a big part of being successful in college too, and you’ll be missing a few hours of sleep here and there, so it’s important to keep your study space out of your sleeping space.
Study at your desk if you’re studying in your room. If you moved into a dorm room, you are paying for a desk. If you live at home (like me) try to buy one if you don’t already have one. Having a dedicated working space is so helpful even if you don’t realize it.
Spend some time in your library if you can. If you live on campus, try to study in the library as much as you can. If you’re a commuter student and can manage some extra time on campus, do it. Go to the quite floor of your campus’ library and find a corner to study in. Get that playlist going and keep yourself focused. You’ll be amazed by how much you can get done.
The readings + homework
If college has taught me one thing it’s that you have assigned reading, you have to read it.
“bUt, BRiDgID! YoU’rE aN EnGlISh MaJoR oF CoURsE yOu haVE tO ReAD!”
Sure, I do definitely need to read to be really successful, but when people say “reading is fundamental” they mean it. Two of my best friends are science majors, on the path to be in medicine and the studying and reading they have to do (whether via powerpoint or textbooks) are always vital to their exams.
If you take anything from this post, take this advice and read.
“Homework” in it’s traditional sense becomes a lot more broad when you get to college. My homework is almost always reading, but someone who is majoring in finance might have math homework. Homework is also the papers you write or the research and reading you’re supposed to be doing.
Remember that planner I said you needed earlier? Crack that bad boy open and plan your out when you’re going to be able to do homework. Those organizational tools are keys to being really successful in college.
My last tip is creating a work/life balance. If you’re a non-traditional student adding school to your already busy schedule, you already know how important it is to balance work and the things you enjoy.
Making sure you have time to study and be in class and even work a part-time or full-time job and then on top of it all try to have a life might seem completely impossible but it’s not. And it’s important that you have a life outside of your academics.
Find a club to join, rush a sorority/pledge a frat, or just make some friends you hang out with outside of class. Sometimes when you’re the most stressed out, you just need a break. Go out with your friends, explore the new place you live, or meet people who want to show you new things in a place you already know.
A break can even be just going to the gym, picking up a new stress-reliever (like Yoga!) or taking yourself to go get dinner! Just get out of your house/dorm.
It’s so important to have fun while you’re in college. You have this great opportunity to meet new people and to grow and change.
Studying is (one of) your job(s), and it’s really important, but finding a balance keeps your mind in a healthy place, and helps you stay motivated during maybe one of the most stressful times in your life!
I hope these tips helped! And, as always, if you have any tips of your own, please leave me a comment below or DM me on Instagram!
I hope everyone has a wonderful semester and does so well! Speak it into existence! You will be great this semester!
Keep your mind in a positive place, get excited about what this year will bring, and be ready to take on those challenges and you will do great.
“I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed – or worse, expelled. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.”
― J.K. Rowling,