OPINION: Rethink your study habits, try new options

Instead of being chained to a desk in the library, try new methods and seek help during your study time

If you aren’t getting the grades you want, tonight you should study for 20 minutes, and take your first step into becoming more academic.

College, while a great place to go to parties, hang out with friends and have fun, is first and foremost a time to get good grades and learn. 

Despite the importance of studying, it can be difficult to get motivated.

“Motivation is a very internal and very personal journey,” Katie Reilly, academic coach at the Academic Success and Career Center, said. “The hardest part is just getting started.”

Getting started in any new resolution is difficult. Often times people make massive plans with good intentions, but fall short because they don’t have a first step. For studying, however, there is one easy step that you can do tonight to get started on improving your academics. 

According to the ASCC Study Cycle sheet, the answer is to preview notes for an upcoming lecture. Skim through the class material that you will go over for each class tomorrow and develop a big picture of what you will learn. Then come up with questions that can be answered in class tomorrow. 

You don’t have to spend all night on this, and tonight can just be a 20-minute session. If a 20-minute preview is all that gets done tonight, then a crucial first step has been made in getting on the right track to studying every night.

However, if being academic and studious is something that can be improved, then pushing harder is something that needs to get done. There are always more steps to take.

The next, and most important step is to go to class, pay attention and take notes.

Reilly recommends following the 80-20 rule, which is that you listen to the professor 80 percent of the time and take notes 20 percent of the time.

After you have gone to all of your classes, the next step is to get out all of your notes, and to decide what you want to accomplish during the next study session. Make it helpful, but not grandiose. 

After this you should interact with your course material for 30 to 50 minutes. Reread the textbook, look at your notes, or go over your professor’s PowerPoint slides if they are available.

Then, take a break. Go for a walk, listen to some relaxing music or eat a snack. Finally, take five minutes and go over what you just studied.

Using these five steps is a great way to kick-start a path to academic success, but they are by no means the only choice available. 

“After class I go over my notes, after that I do the reading to go more deeply into what was covered in the lecture,” Jessica Jimenez, a WSU junior Wildlife Ecology major, said.

What really matters when studying is that you improve your learning and go beyond simple memorization. College helps give you the skills needed to be a better professional, and in order to do that it is necessary to be able to apply what you have learned. College matters and studying well matters.

If you or someone you know needs help studying or improving their academics, visit the Academic Coaching drop-in office hours from 2-4 p.m. on weekdays at Lighty Student Services.