College Hacks
College Hacks
Sep 24, 2021

Figuring out how to survive college is a genuine concern, because the life change can feel overwhelming. Transitioning into college is unlike any other experience you will have. No one will push you to study or do homework. You need to learn self-reliance and how to make yourself study when you don't want to.

1. Prioritize Your Studies

Whether you are a full-time student or not, college needs to become a priority in your life. If you must choose between a late-night party and getting sleep for the test, remember your test grade will affect that course's score and your overall GPA. Ask for a raincheck for the party.

Instead of waiting until the weekend to cram for the following week, take time daily to refresh your mind on the material. Make sure you have ample time to study for each of your courses daily, and block it out in your schedule as you would your classes.

A good rule of thumb for study time is to multiply your course hours by two or three. For example, if you have a course that lasts three hours a week, you will need to spend an extra six to nine hours studying for that class. If you have a full-time course load of 12 hours, you will need to allow between 24 and 36 hours for studying outside class time and your work schedule.

2. Get a Planner

Whether you use your phone's calendar, one on your computer or an old-fashioned paper model, you need someplace to write down your assignments, their due dates and your study times.

Writing the information down somewhere will also help you remember it because you will see it once on the calendar, again when you get a reminder and other times when you add more study times or homework to the list.

If you have a reminder function on your phone or computer's calendar, make sure to use it. You will find it harder to forget your studies when your phone beeps with a reminder. Having friends to remind you to study will also make it harder to miss sessions.

3. Find Study Buddies

While many college life hacks discuss socializing, many do not mention academics. Creating study groups from your classes helps bridge the gap between the two. You can make friends and help each other to improve your grades.

Study groups are excellent for helping you complete your notes and get a better grasp of the information from class. You may not have had time to write down everything from the lecture, but you can get that information if someone else in your study group who also took notes and can help flesh out your recollection. 

Plan for your study group to meet once a week to review the data from that week's classes. If any group members miss a class, the others can help them catch up.

Another benefit of a study group is having someone who can test you on the material. You can quiz each other on the information during study sessions and in preparation for the tests.

Study groups also help you meet other people on campus. When you start college, it can be challenging to find time to socialize or to find out who to mingle with. A study group opens the door to meeting others at college and developing friendships.  

4. Take Breaks While Studying   

Don't spend hours cramming your notes. While you should take time to study, sitting for extended periods without a break will make you less effective at remembering what you reviewed.

Science backs up taking study breaks. In one study, participants who took note of a digit that flashed on the screen twice during a 50-minute task performed better on the work than those who did not have the interruption.

To use this during your next study period, take a break every 20 to 30 minutes to look out a window, listen to a song or focus on something other than your study. The break does not have to be long, because the study showed results from only seconds-long distractions. Changing things up periodically can help keep you focused longer.

Taking short breaks to stand up and stretch will also keep your body from becoming too tense during the study session. With regular breaks, you can avoid the headaches and sore neck that often accompany extended study times.

5. Take Notes

Because you will use your notes from class to study, you need to be meticulous when writing them down. To get the most out of taking notes, you have several methods that could help you.

Try out using different colors when note-taking to indicate various topics or to highlight more critical pieces of information. You could also take notes with a regular pen and highlight them after in different colors.

Instead of taking notes in a spiral notebook, use loose-leaf paper. The separate sheets will let you spread out your notes and reorganize them based on the topic when studying. You can also organize your notes with those you take from the readings.

If you do want to use a spiral notebook, use the top of the page on the right side to write down notes from class. Take notes on the corresponding sections of the book on the back of the page on the left side. When finished, you should have a pair of facing pages covering the same material from the lecture and book.

At the end of each class, don't bolt for the door. Instead, spend five minutes going back over your notes. Review the material for accuracy and any omissions you may have made. Doing it immediately after class ensures you do not forget to include anything. You can also review your notes with other classmates during your study sessions.  

6. Review Your Notes Throughout the Semester 

The notes you take in class and from your textbook readings will not do you any good if you never go back over them. Rereading your notes means doing more than skimming over the material. You must actively engage with the information by quizzing yourself on it and asking questions. Review information regularly throughout the semester, including notes from earlier chapters.

The more you go over your notes, the better you will be able to recall the information. For example, if you look at your notes once, you will only remember 20% of the information two weeks later. However, if you test your recall immediately after reading the data, you will retain up to 65% of what you read. Looking over the information twice jumps this percentage of recall up to 80% after two weeks.

When you test yourself over your knowledge of the notes and reading, you will prepare yourself for the exam long before the test happens. The more reviewing and testing you do of yourself, the more information you will retain at test time.

7. Get to Know Your Professors

The professors are there to help you, but they won't track you down about low grades as high school teachers might. You must make an effort to meet your professors during their office hours. Doing so makes them aware that you're willing to put in added effort in class. You may have the chance to get additional help or extra credit if you get into a bind.

When you have a good relationship with your professors, you also sow the seeds for future sources of letters of recommendation you may need for jobs or graduate school.

8. Work Extra Hard Early in College 

The first couple of years of college are the most important in establishing your grade point average (GPA). If you do well in these years, you enter the next portion of your college career with a higher GPA, which makes it easier to maintain that level. However, if you don't apply yourself during the first couple of years, you may not have the GPA you want, and progressing through later courses will be more challenging because upper-level classes tend to be harder.

The courses you take after the first two years will likely focus on your major, and depending on what you want to major in, you may find yourself omitted from the program if your GPA was not high enough during the first two years. For example, some technical degrees such as mathematics or engineering, may require that you have a 3.0 GPA, which corresponds to getting all Bs. You may need to change majors if you cannot maintain such a high GPA.

Your grades also keep you eligible for some scholarships and aid programs. If you cannot maintain the minimum GPA set out by the financial assistance parameters, you could lose the award.

Lastly, if you want to go to graduate school or transfer to another school, you will likely have to have a minimum GPA to apply. Many graduate programs require at least a 2.0, which is all Cs, to get into. Some may ask that you have higher grades, depending on the program.

9. Stay Healthy

While you may not think about your health when you consider life hacks for college students, when you go to college, you are responsible for your well-being. You cannot do well in college if you miss tests and classes because you get sick. Do what you can to avoid illnesses and stay on track for success.

Get regular exercise. Check if the school has a gym available for working out in inclement weather, but you can also jog around campus or sign up for intramural sports to get your exercise in.

Look into the services of the school's health center. Many offer vaccines to protect you from the flu during the winter and can give you checkups and medicine if you get sick. Your student health insurance plan typically covers these services.

Don't neglect regular checkups with a doctor. If you have no health problems, you at least get the peace of mind that you are healthy. If you do have any issues, you can start to get treatment for them quicker than if you never got annual exams.

Staying healthy will keep you alert and your mind spry for when you go to class.

10. Create Good Sleeping Habits

When it comes to sleeping, you may feel tempted to neglect your bedtime and stay up all night studying. This method will backfire because you need sleep to function at your peak.

The best time to study, according to researchers, is just before a full night's sleep, compared to studying in the morning. The researchers reported participants had better recall 24 hours later after a full night's sleep when the study occurred before rest. 

When it comes to sleep, you probably aren't getting enough. Only 30% of college students reported getting the ideal eight to 10 hours of sleep each night.

Use the novelty of college as more than the start of your higher education. Take the chance to transform your sleeping habits. Getting into good habits in college will help you stay awake and ready for anything life might throw at you.

Don't stay up late studying or eating. Eating too late at night can interfere with your sleep as your body works to digest the food. Also, skip the evening coffees and sodas. Caffeine can still affect your body's ability to sleep up to 12 hours after you ingest it.

Your body likes regularity, so having a routine for sleep will help you the most. Establish a procedure that allows you to relax at the end of the day. You may choose to listen to soothing music, journal or read a book. Stay away from using your cell phone or computer late because the light could disrupt your sleep patterns. When you have screen-free time before bed, you help your body naturally regulate its circadian rhythm and the hormone melatonin.

When you do get ready for bed, make sure you only use your bed for sleeping. Your brain will then associate the two, making it easier for you to fall asleep when you need to. Turn off the lights, computers and other light sources that can keep you awake and turn the temperature down a few degrees, so you feel cool and comfortable.

This final sleeping tip tends to be the hardest because it may require some planning. Do not sleep in, even on weekends. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, whether you have class, work or nothing to do. You may need an alarm at first to help your body adjust to the sleep schedule, but after a while, you will find it easier to stay on track with sleeping.

Get Help With Homework 24 Hours a Day

You may not study at normal hours, but you always have a study partner ready to help you at 24HourAnswers. We have experienced, reliable tutors available for when you need them. Additionally, you can submit a homework question whenever you have one, day or night.

Make the most of your college time by using the above college study hacks and by keeping our web address bookmarked for times when you need help with a course question or more intensive individual tutoring. Visit us at for the academic support you need.

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