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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at C of C chapter.

So, here we are again. Welcome back to the whole college thing. Some of you may be new, so welcome. We’re about a month in and I think now everything is starting to feel real. What do you mean our first exam? I swear we were just handed the syllabus yesterday. What do you mean an 1,000 word, APA style essay is due tonight? I was at orientation this morning. The first month of a new semester is like a time vacuum. So, as some of you are coming to realize, taking your own time to get the material in your head is essential for academic success. It’s an adjustment, and not always an easy one. Especially if you’re like me. In high school, I was one of those students who could read the book once or listen to half a lecture and ace the exams. That doesn’t quite work here. With that being said, I learned the hard way that in college, not every class is going to come easy. And that’s okay! Something you can use to make that adjustment is the advice I’m about to give you. Here are five study habits I adopted to help me soar academically.

A change of scenery goes a long way

Let’s face it. If you’re studying in your dorm, you’re either already on your bed or right next to it. All you can think about is being done with your homework so you can doze right off. And I don’t blame you, those college naps hit different. But be honest with yourself, you’re not going to retain any information effectively if you’re distracted by the idea of a sweet afternoon nap. Gather up your gear and go somewhere else. Personally, my favorite places to study are the campus library and the outdoors. The separation of a working space and a resting space will do wonders for your mental health and sense of balance. Having your working space right next to where you sleep, play games, or any other leisure activities will take the relaxation out of those activities. Find a place that works best for you. When looking for a study space, ask yourself who you are as a studier. Do you need silence or do you thrive with background noise? Would you rather be tucked away in a nook or have plenty of room to spread out? Wherever you decide to hit the books, make sure it’s OUT of your bedroom.

ditch the phone

I know you just left home and who am I to be lecturing you like your parents do, but you have to come to terms with it. Your phone being next to you while you’re trying to do homework is a recipe for disaster. Two seconds to shoot a text will turn into two minutes to check Snapchat which will turn into two hours on Tiktok. Your phone is a bigger distraction than your bed. It needs to go. Turn it off, give it to a trusted friend for a few hours, or do like I did. Down load an app called Forest. Forest is an app that will plant a little tree for you and you pick the amount of time needed to let it grow. The only catch is that the app will lock your phone until your tree is done growing. The only way to get to your apps before it’s done is to do the unthinkable, you have to kill your tree. Can you imagine that? Killing an innocent tree trying to bloom just to Snap someone back? I use this app whenever I have to buckle down for homework and sometimes when I just need a break from screen time.

Vocabulary, Vocabulary, vocabulary

This tip mainly applies to more science classes, however I have poured over vocab in English and history classes as well. Say you’re really struggling to understand a chapter in your biology class. No matter how much you read it, you just cannot understand the topic. I guarantee you, you’re tripping up on vocab. My best advice for this is to go through the textbook chapter, look at the lecture slides, and before any thing else make note of the vocabulary terms. Make lists, write up flashcards, find a classmate to quiz with. once you get the vocab, the rest of the concepts should be a breeze because when you’re reading the texts you won’t have to slow down trying to process terms you don’t understand because you’ll have them under your belt.

Get up, move around

Your brain isn’t the only muscle that needs working out. Sitting in one spot for hours doing homework isn’t just unhealthy, it’s ineffective. When you sit for a long time, you’re just building up energy that has nowhere to go. After a while, you get antsy and distracted. Yes, I know you want to get ahead, but fidgeting and growing cranky is only going to put you back. If you find yourself shifting in your seat constantly and just wanting to be done with your studying, put your pen down, close the laptop and take a break. During this break, get some exercise. Whether it’s a calm walk around the park or a full body workout in the gym, moving in a way that makes you feel good will get rid of those jitters and clear your head. that way when you come back to your work, you feel like sitting down again and you have a better mindset.

Hydrate! (Coffee is not Hydration)

Listen, I know that that 4th iced latte makes you feel energized in the moment, but give it ten minutes and you’ll be distracted with nothing but jitters, anxiety, and endless bathroom breaks. While I agree, caffeine is a good way to keep yourself awake for long study sessions, there’s a healthy way to do it and you need to learn to pace yourself. A general rule I like to stick with is at least 2 refills of my 24 oz water bottle before I even think about another cup of coffee. Drinking water will help you keep your mind clear and pacing your caffeine intake with it will prevent that afternoon crash that comes with drinking coffee. Oh, and I know a Bang or Celsius seems like a good idea in the moment, but don’t even think about it. Nobody has ever said “Wow, I was really productive today, I’m glad I chugged 3 Monsters!” Energy drink fanatics only end up hyper, anxious, and sleepless. Trust me, I know first hand. If you need to caffeinate, stick to coffee or tea. And if you feel you’re still tired, cut back and get more sleep. The best study drink is water. Make sure to always have some at your study station.

Settling into a study routine is often a challenge. You have to learn what works best for you. Notice how I never mentioned “Take notes like this” or “Read like that”. I’m not you, I don’t know how you learn. What I do know is how to develop a healthy mind-body balance that will put you at peak study performance. Take these tips, take frequent breaks while studying, and get plenty of rest, you’ll notice the changes in not only your grades but how you feel before, during, and after studying. Good luck this semester!

Arwen Jeger

C of C '25

Heyo! I'm just a gal that loves to read, watch movies, and explore the world around me. If you ever need a good book or show to get into, or just a solid piece of advice, I got your back!