Study Smart

Originally published April 2013, online student newsletter.

Over the last few months, we have covered the basic steps you need to succeed in your studies. By now, you hopefully have a study plan, have learned to study the material effectively, and are setting (and achieving!) your study and/or life goals.

Now that you are on the right track, you want to keep moving in the right direction and maximize your ability to lean. Here are few of my favorite tips for studying smart.

Expand Your Horizons

As we all know, you get out of something what you put into it. And whether using REA as a sole resource works for you or not, we can all benefit by using additional resources.  Reading relevant Great Books, listening to audios from experts, or even reading through a good textbook will certainly prepare you to do better on your test.  However, more importantly, it will set you up for long-term success by broadening your base of knowledge and setting a foundation for whatever may come next.  Not only will you know more, your critical thinking abilities will develop as you make connections and pull things together. This is your education. Make the most of it.

Reward Yourself

Whether you have some form of daily affirmation as you achieve your goals or find ways to celebrate bigger achievements, it is important to take the time to reward yourself. On a daily basis, allow yourself breaks as you study. As most of you know, studying 20-30 minutes a day, then taking a 5 minutes break not only feels rewarding, it is also one of the most effective ways to study!

When you pass a CLEP test, treat yourself to ice cream or coffee out, have a movie night with your family, or take the next day off from your studies (or all of the above)!  And be sure to celebrate your biggest milestones (such as passing a particularly hard exam or reaching sophomore, junior, or senior status) with something equally exciting.  Go to dinner with friends or family, have a party, or do something to reward all that effort!

Give yourself something to look forward to and you are bound to study better along the way.

Know When to Quit

While it may seem counter-intuitive, some of the most successful students I know are quick to recognize when they are beating their head against a brick wall.  Knowing when to quit can take many forms.

  • Know when to stop studying at the end of the day and put school out of your mind.
  • Know when you are ready to wrap up your studying and just take that test!
  • Know when something just isn’t working for you and have the strength of mind to move on.

For example, if math is not your thing and you’re on your third math course in a row, maybe it’s time to quit for awhile.  If you are taking multiple courses and realize they are all in subjects that are not your strength, know that it is okay to put one or two on hold and pick up something more enjoyable.  Whether you need to quit something for good and make a replacement or just come back to it later, knowing when to quit takes a special kind of wisdom and strength.

Allowing yourself the freedom to quit in certain situations just might be one of the best things you can do for your long-term success.

As you pursue one or all of these goals, remember to start slow. Pick one, make it into a SMART goal that works for you, and be intentional until it becomes a habit. And know that as you continue to develop a range of study skills, you are also learning life skills.

You can do it!  Study smart. Live smart. Accomplish much!  I believe in you.  🙂

Image, Wikipedia, CC