The One Key to Getting Good Grades in College: Study Habits

So now's about the time when everyone's got their classes scheduled and their dorm or apartment stuff picked out. You'll move in, have fun through Welcome Week, and then be tossed head first into classes. Going from break to school is never an easy transition. It's harder in college because you no longer have a parent watching over you making sure you actually do your work, which means there's more opportunities to play. Believe it or not, this isn't a bad thing. After you fall, figuring out how to pick yourself back up is a great skill to develop and your parents have to let you go enough so that you can figure that out yourself (but they'll still be mad if you fail). 

So what determines how you do in your classes? Study habits. Attending class, especially review sessions, and reading your textbook are included in this. If a professor is bothering to host a review session, you are very likely to hear exact questions that will be on your test. If not, you can ask "I'm having  trouble understanding <insert whatever here>. Could you explain it differently and maybe give an an example question?" You're asking for test questions without asking straightforwardly. This always works.

Did you get by without studying in high school? Doesn't work that way for most college classes. If you don't study, you will not get a good grade. And if your idea of studying is watching TV, texting your friends, Facebook messaging a cute guy/girl, shopping online, and eating at the same time with your book studying across the room, you're in for a rude awakening. The worst part?  No one will have sympathy for you. There's a Fall Out Boy lyric that says "You can only blame your problems on the world for so long before it all becomes the same old song." Truer words have never been spoken (sung?). If you study like that and don't do well on any of your tests, your friends and your parents will see right through your excuses.

So what's the best way to do well? Simple:

  • Go to class 
  • Read your textbook
  • Actively participate in class (meaning answer/ask questions and take notes)
  • Study notes and key concepts from books
  • Say hello to the people next to you and invite them to study with you

Are some classes easier than others? Yes, but assume they're all hard until you get through the first exam, then figure out what you need to do to keep good grades. I am guilty of skipping classes that I know I have a good handle on and can function well without a professor right there with me, but I never do it until after the first exam. That way I know what the tests are like and whether I need to memorize word for word or just know concepts. This determining by yourself is one of the hardest things for college students to do, but once you know yourself and how you learn a subject, it becomes easier. Just use your best judgment.

Here are a few more tips from our other student bloggers:

If you have any questions, or have some other helpful ideas, feel free to share them in the Comment section below.

About The Author
Christen HelouGeology and Biology Major, Class of 2016

I'm officially majoring in geology at IU Bloomington, but I'll be adding biology this year, along with minors in animal behavior and chemistry. I will also be getting my scuba diving certification. I love reading, playing harp, and hanging out with my amazing friends!