College life is a must-have experience for everyone one of us. It’s just the ideal place to stimulate one’s intellect and make connections that could last for an entire lifetime.
But despite its thrilling opportunity for adventure, college life comes with its own peculiar challenges. This is particularly so when you consider the mammoth academic workload and the constant adaptation it requires of students.
For these reasons, life can be pretty hellish for amateur first years who have to quickly find their feet on arrival. That being so, the really smart students do however manage to come through, thanks largely to their remarkable reading habits and a clever application of practical college life hacks.
While regular class attendance is an obvious hack for college success, but since so much store is set by one’s class rank when interviewing, merely doing this alone won’t turn you a top student any more than frequent trips to the bank makes anyone wealthy.
The top students at college are usually an infinitesimal percentage of the regular class population. And that alone should tell us something about them – they possess the right blend of study techniques that their peers could only dream of. That said, if you are thinking of college and you’d like to be at the top of your class, you’ll have to do what other smart college students do. You have to be ready to follow in their footsteps.
Here are 16 life hacks and strategies for outstanding college success.
(1) Be An Active Reader.
Don’t just passively read study materials. Actively test them by posing questions to yourself like, “Why was this conclusion reached?” Develop hypotheses and actively test them as you read along.
(2) Avoid The Giant Killer “Procrastination”
The best time to do something they say is “today.” Don’t pile up your misery by delaying things until “tomorrow” – an indefinite date. Kill every urge you have to post-pone tedious work. Act fast as tasks present themselves. Don’t keep saying “Ready, ready, aim, aim, aim, aim!” You might as well take the shot!
(3) Accept Constructive Criticism
Never take criticism personal. The aim is to make your work better by spotting out potential exam blunders. Take everything in good part and just when it stings, learn to ask yourself “What’s with you?” That’s a good way to deflect criticism and keep it from getting to you. It always works, just try it.
(4) Don’t Be A Night Owl
Work during the day and let night times be sleep times. Don’t play pranks with sleep. It can boomerang on you.
(5) Be Consistent In Your School Work
“Slow and steady,” they say, “wins the race.” You certainly don’t need to be in arrears with your school work. You can’t foot the interest rates charged. You pay with crippling last ditch anxiety. Early kick off works best trust me!
(6) Do Your Assignments and Turn Them In Early
Your lecturers may give irrelevant assignments which you might not want to do sometimes. But no matter how boring you think they are, ensure you do them and turn them in early, otherwise you might miss out on the grades assigned to them and that could hurt your GPA.
(7) Be Attentive In Class
Tweak your hearing antennas now for optimum efficiency, that way you’ll not miss out on any class transmission from HQ. Let all learning originate from your class room. Your test books can settle for second best.
(8) Stay Calm Before An Exam.
Can you remind me again what’s the use of worrying? Oh I remember now! It multiplies your troubles and divides your effectiveness. As a college student, constant worries can eat into your confidence and ensure all your efforts in your studies misfire. The answer? Avoid doing anything that triggers anxiety before a major school event: No exam-venue last ditch cramming. Your mind has already had enough, why not give it a breather already.
(9) Ask Questions When In Class
Don’t play spectator in class. Participate by asking questions. At least that will give your lecturer the semblance of following. Fear not, you won’t get snapped at asking a little harmless question.
(10) Practice Before Exams.
You don’t want surprises, do you? Then try solving past questions. That way you’ll have enough experience under your belt and nothing will unsettle you as you skim down your question paper on “D-Day.” “Practice,” they say, “makes perfect.” That goes for you too.
(11) Learn Before Going To Bed
Psychologists say we should learn right before going to sleep as this will allow our brains to put the information in our long-term memory soon after. Convert those short periods before bed time for reading and you’ll be amazed at your rate of retention.
(12) Teach Others What You Learn
One of the most effective ways to memorize anything faster is to teach others what you’ve learned. You retain 10% of what you read, 20% of what you hear, 30% of what you see and 50% of what you hear and see, 70% of what you discuss with others and 80% of what you learn from personal experience.
But the real game changer is teaching others what you learn. When you do that, you retain 90% of what you learn. I’ve seen teachers who can recite from memory the content of their texts. But that is a cinch after teaching students from the same text book every semester for years.
(13) Stick With Rote Learning
Talk about the effectiveness of repetition as both a study and memorizing technique has been a little belabored of late, but you can ignore it at your own peril. Repetition is by far the most effective memorizing technique available. It’s a fact that the more time you spend poring over information, the better you’ll retain it. So for maximum stickability, recite anything you’re taught in class.
(14) Know When You Enjoy Reading Best
Don’t just copy someone else’s reading time. Take time to find out when you enjoy reading best, moments when your reading really flows and your rate of assimilation is very high. It could be in the wee hours of the morning, during the afternoon or at night. Only you can tell when that is. But early morning is regarded as the most productive time for studying as a student. Or yours might just be at night.
(15) Do Your Reading In Bits
If you haven’t noticed the mind prefers short-term goals to long term, smaller achievable goals to larger ambitious ones. Try setting eight hours of non-stop reading as a goal and see where that would get you – nowhere really! The reason is because you’ll constantly be thinking about how you could keep up your reading for the next eight hours and that will get you very discouraged. To avoid getting discouraged, split that time into short intervals of reading, say reading for straight one hour at first and then making additions as you go along.
(16) Observe Short Breaks When Reading
Don’t be the sort who wants to remain sat in one spot reading for endless hours. While you might get more done with this approach, there’s a chance you might not recollect much from your reading. That’s because the human attention span is at 30% after 45 minutes of focused reading and this decreases overtime as your reading progresses.
So take breaks at intervals during the course of your reading to help you regain about 90% of your attention span. Get your blood flowing by walking around or go grab a bite after about an hour of focused study.
If you can just master these hacks and find a way to integrate them into your study routine, you’ll have a real crack at excelling in both your exams and in class. Now go forth and conquer!