As Spring Break ends, hopefully, all of us have finished our Midterms! Whether you did well or have room to grow, it is always important to stay on top of your homework to make sure that you are properly digesting the material. I don’t know about anyone else, but it is also very hard for me to get back into the groove of studying after a break, even if I did well on my exams and essays. As we get back to school, it is the perfect time to revamp your study sessions to make sure you do even better than last time!
How much should you study?
At Gettysburg, our classes are worth four credits. This means that on average, you should be spending four hours a week on work for the class. If you are taking four classes, this is then sixteen hours a week of estimated study time outside of the classroom. Personally, I hate doing work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I have to hold myself accountable. When making a study schedule, take these numbers and personal parameters into consideration. If I only want to do work four days of the week, then I need to do four hours of work a day.
If you have a better idea of the time you need to spend each day on homework, it makes scheduling time for work much easier. You can treat it like community service or a job, holding yourself liable to log a certain amount of hours.
Thinking of your classes in terms of hours can also help you gauge how well you’re doing in each class. If you find yourself twiddling your thumbs after hour two, you’re probably doing well and can dedicate less time to the class! If you find yourself working past four hours, it could be time to reach out to a PLA, a friend in the class, or the professor to help you out. I too have been blindsided by an exam in a class I thought I was doing fine in, so this is a great way to keep track of it.
When should you study?
Personally, I feel like I get more done when I have a longer portion of time to actually work. When I have an hour in between classes, I always tell myself I’ll read a chapter for class or something similar, but then I find myself treating myself to a break instead. When I have more time in between responsibilities, I tend to actually sit down and work. Maybe this is because one hour doesn’t feel as important as three hours, or perhaps it is because my breaks take up a shorter proportion of time during a longer session. Regardless of the reason, this is something that works for me and helps me feel more productive.
If you feel like this could be helpful for you, try to plan your day with these chunks of time during periods you feel productive. If you’re an early riser, perhaps heading to the library a few hours before class could help you get work done. You could also try to schedule your classes, extracurriculars and work closer together so you have more free time.
The key here is to not waste this time. A fun fact about me is that I rarely nap, so I’m never afraid of casually falling asleep during this designated study time. I do tend to get sucked in by social media, however, but like all things, self-control is vital.
Where should you study?
A certain location is not going to work for every assignment you have, at least for me. Sitting at one of the library desks for a chill reading can drain motivation out of me, the motivation I may need for an essay writing session later that day. For something as low stakes as that, I may just sit on one of the couches in Junction. For me, this location definitely doesn’t work the other way around. For something difficult or worth a lot of points, sitting at a desk is better.
If you didn’t do well on a Midterm, revaluate how you were doing assignments. Maybe a new location could be just what you need. Try to work in a private study room, in the College Union Building, in your dorm, on a couch. You can only find out what works for you through trial and error. It could also be fun to try new study spots around campus!
Be honest with yourself
This is a self-call-out. I’ve been rewatching Gossip Girl lately, and sometimes I find myself doing statistics problems with it playing in the background. And that sounds like a great way for me to motivate myself. But then I’m zoned out, watching Blair chase after Chuck and I’m still on the first problem. I can actually do work listening to music, but some people can’t. Be honest. Are you watching YouTube for background noise? Or are you going to get distracted? And even if you do find yourself becoming distracted, you need to have the self-control necessary to turn it off.
If you can listen to music and study, my favorite thing to listen to is “dark academia” classical music. It’s typically a faster pace, and I find myself working faster to keep up with it. Highly recommend.
…But give yourself a break
While it’s important to do well, it’s also important to take care of yourself. You’ll crash and burn without listening to your mind and body, so forgive yourself for a lack of motivation. Some days, I truly cannot get myself to concentrate on homework. Changing my study schedule last-minute will definitely increase my workload for the next day, but that’s okay!
If I truly cannot focus on an assignment, the most obvious thing to try is another one due around the same time. But if that doesn’t work, the best thing to do for yourself is productive self-care. Maybe you’ve been putting off calling your mom. These types of days are the perfect time to give her a ring. A much-needed nap, face mask, deep clean, anything that can help you get ready for the next day is the best way to relax without all the guilt. That way, you’re well-rested and cared for in time for your work tomorrow.