There are countless parents who will soon have a child/children leaving home to either start their freshman year of college. Regardless of the student’s classification there are two skills that are crucial for success. Those two skills are Time Management and Study Skills. These are even more important if you are a Division 1 student-athlete. They may have thought they were proficient during high school, but college is a “different animal”. College exams and other assignments will challenge your child on a deeper level than they have ever experienced. More will be required than merely scratching the surface.
Here are effective strategies that any college freshman can incorporate into their academic life in order to start their first year of college strong and maintain that momentum throughout their collegiate experience.
Go to class. Skipping class may seem like a great idea because there is no one to wake you up and force you to go, but it is not. Collegiate classes move at a faster pace. Don’t be fooled and think you will easily catch up or you can get notes from a classmate. Get to class, sit close to the front, takes notes, and participate (even if it is a class 300 in a lecture hall). Be an active participant. Use a recorder in addition to taking notes if your professor speaks fast or the lesson contains complex concepts.
Ask for help. If you are unsure about anything, (time permitting) ask the professor for clarification immediately after class or go see the professor during their scheduled office hours. Athletes be sure to take advantage of the variety of built in support systems available that are at your disposal.
Utilize efficient study habits. Implement the Pomodoro Technique. It involves studying/working in smaller chunks of time (25 minutes) and taking 5 minute breaks between those chunks. After every 4 chunks, take a longer break of between 15-30 minutes to help you remain fresh and focused. You may also want to form a study group. I would suggest the group consist of no more than 4 people who are all motivated to learn, participate during class, and are alert and focused during class.
Find an environment that is conducive to studying. Studying in your dorm room may not be the best place to get work done due to several distractions (e.g. friends stopping by, noise in the hallway, loud music from an adjacent dorm room, etc.). The college library is an excellent choice. Select a location that is away from high foot traffic areas (noise & seeing a friend that wants to talk) and has ample space for you to spread out your study materials. Be sure to have additional locations (e.g. coffee shop, local park or a classroom on campus that is not being used), so you can switch every now and then to maintain focus.
Organize your class notes. This will help make studying for exams a lot easier. Once you have returned to your dorm room/apartment for the night, neatly rewrite all of your notes, so when you begin to study everything is legible. When you rewrite your notes, you are learning the material using the visual and kinesthetic modalities. Having unorganized notes will lead to wasted time trying to organize them when it is time to study. Use a recording device in your classes so you can add what you may have missed while writing notes. Also, develop your own form of shorthand. This will enable you transcribe more of what what is being said.
* These skills work well for high school students as well!