Common Study Mistakes That All Freshmen Make

Freshmen tend to enter college with study habits that might have worked in high school - college is a different ballgame, though. These common study mistakes should be avoided.


Common Study Mistakes of the Uninitiated

You may think any studying is good studying, but you're wrong. Whether you're overly ambitious or just concerned with your social life, studying incorrectly can cost you time, grades and your sanity.

Highlighting Nothing

When you go to the bookstore and buy your books, there are two kinds that you'll find: new and used. Used are cheaper, but new are crisp and clean. Either way, it's your book now. Even if you sell your book back to the bookstore, they know it's used. So, use it!

Make notes in the margin, star vocab terms, highlight key points - this is the benefit of owning your book. Highlighting requires your mind to stop and think. Is this important? How much of this sentence do you need to highlight? You'll likely re-read the sentence as you highlight it, so it won't get lost as your eyes scan over the rest of the paragraph. In the end, this will save you time when you go to write your paper.

Highlighting Everything

The opposite of not highlighting is, of course, highlighting everything. Many used college texts have entire paragraphs highlighted. Sure, it's an important paragraph, but is the whole thing essential? Not likely.

Highlight dates, names and sentences you find essential, but don't bother highlighting the fluff. If you wouldn't quote it in a paper, don't highlight it. If you highlight everything, you'll have to re-read all of it, and it'll take twice as long to get through that book.

Not Taking Notes

You have the notebook in front of you; why not put it to good use? Don't just jot down a name or a date here and there. Write down what the professor puts on the board, it's likely important enough for them to do that extra movement. Also, jot down what he or she says in class and any ideas you may have during discussion (yes, some schools are not just lecture halls).

In fact, if you have a computer, take it with you - you can likely type faster than you write, so you'll get more on the page per minute. Just don't check your Facebook status!

And like highlighting, pay attention in class so you'll know what's important and what isn't. When your Italian history professor tells an anecdote about his trip to Rome and a delicious meal he had - take your fingers off the keyboard. This filler will only waste your time when you go to write a paper.

Studying with Friends

Unless they're in your class, this isn't a good idea. Someone always goes off topic and begins to chat. Plus, if a group of friends are sitting together, it's just an invitation for additional friends (who don't have homework on the brain) to come over and distract you.

Also, everyone has different studying styles and yours might clash with theirs (maybe they listen to music and you don't).

Even if you have friends in class, it may not be a good idea to study with them. Find other people who would like to study. Maybe you'll make a new friend.

Not Outlining

While a lengthy and tiring step, outlining is essential to creating any good paper or presentation. It likely wasn't something you did in high school, because secondary school is all about rushing through work to get to teenage things. Don't make that mistake as a college freshman!

Outlining can help align your thinking in ways you didn't initially realize. You may have one idea for a paper and then find your notes move you in a completely different direction. It will also guide your paper so that you don't go off topic, help you keep to your thesis and prevent you from forgetting an important fact that you wanted to include. It may be a lengthy step, but it can save you from a bad grade or from a complete rewrite.

Waiting Until the Last Minute

Cram sessions are a thing of legend. Everyone has a story about it, but don't fall prey to this nasty study mistake.

If you have an exam at eight a.m., don't crack your textbook at 11 the night before. You may feel like you're saving time, but you'll find that 15 minutes here and there is better than five hours in one evening.

Make sure you space out your study time so you can retain information. With available time, you can make flashcards, test yourself and have a good sleep the night before the exam. You'll feel refreshed and your mind will thank you for it. The reduced stress on your mind will also help you think more clearly in class.

Now that you know what not to do, find some helpful reading tips that will save you time!

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