5 Essential Study Tips Every College Freshman Should Know

Almost every college freshman is filled with excitement and expectations when starting school. Some can become overwhelmed with the course load, study requirements and a new environment. Keeping focus on why you’re there can help ground and steady you while finding your footing on the chosen career path.

Use these five basic question words to construct a well-balanced study routine that can guide you through not only the first few months of school but during your entire tenure at college:


Each course should come with a syllabus outlining the direction the instructor intends to take and the content of the course. True, professors can and do occasionally wander off that path, but keep the syllabus as a reminder, planner and guide to help keep yourself focused on your studies.

Read behind and ahead as well as over your current assignment. Set aside the first 15 minutes of your study session to review the past reading assignment. Remind yourself of what you covered in the last assignment; that review can cut course review time almost in half if you reinforce prior learning early.

After you study your current assignment, read ahead as an introduction of the next area. A pre-study read lets your brain familiarize itself with the material and eases the actual learning process considerably. As you read ahead, note significant areas with minimal marks in the margin, such as arrows or stars, but note them with pencil. You’re merely creating possibilities, not trying to hammer facts into memory.

By the time you finish one reading assignment, you will have actually read it three times already, and the material lodges itself that more firmly in your memory.


Study your course work as soon after class as you can. Lectures are clearer in your memory, and your mind is still in “school mode.”

Save entertainment for its own time; don’t try to mix a football game with sociology unless you’re a PhD student whose dissertation is on the group dynamics between team and fan support in modern college sports.


Spend the bulk of your time studying in a library versus your dorm room. Get away from the noise, distractions and dramas unfolding there. Occasionally, late night cram sessions in a dorm are necessary, but keep yourself on track by allowing yourself quality study time and a quality environment.


Introduce yourself to your faculty advisor as soon as possible. Note his office hours and available contact methods. He’s there to help you and will gladly do so. He won’t do your homework for you, but he can advise, listen and recommend action steps.

Teaching assistants or T.A.s can be valuable resources, as well. Get to know their names and faces. Go talk with them when you need to.

Upperclassmen in college can seem as daunting as they did in high school, but they can also be a tremendous resource, source of support and great friends if you let them.

Form or join study groups early. If a particular mix of study mates isn’t to your taste, keep looking. Put notices up in the dorms or the cafeteria or the student center. Odds are, there are others looking for new study partners, too.


Students of all levels and courses find it’s much harder to catch up than it is to keep up. Do not let yourself fall behind. Keep up with your reading assignments, papers and projects.

When you’re in class, take copious notes. If the school or professor allows, bring your laptop or a tape recorder to class, but don’t let the recorder take the place of taking notes. Use bullet points or different colored pens to note important facts or sub-topic areas.

If you buy your textbooks, use different colored highlighters to note different types of information. Use one color only for ideas, another for numerical data or dates and another for specific facts, for example. Be consistent in the uses for each color, training your eye and your brain to organize the data simply and well.


Using these five study tips can help ease the stress and tension of adapting to a new study routine and responsibilities. Good luck and good studying.


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