Going to College: Developing Your Learning Approach

Going to College: Developing Your Learning Approach

Find the right learning space for you

It’s important to make sure that you are comfortable in your studying environment. Have you got enough space to spread out all your books, notes and folders? Is there enough natural light? Is your chair comfortable? Try to make sure all distractions are out of sight and that your desk is tidy and organised. Many students have reported the benefits of listening to music while studying – it calms them down and elevates their mood, leading to increased motivation and productivity. The wrong type of study music, however, could end up distracting you, so it may take some trial and error. Why not try classical music? It is said to improve mental performance – they don’t call it the “Mozart Effect” for nothing! Some students find that they need a change of scenery from time to time in order to stimulate their mind. If your desk isn’t doing it for you, head to the library/a coffee shop/the park and you may find somewhere that does.

Study with friends

Many find that support from friends when studying is incredibly beneficial. You may be unsure of something that they can explain to you, and vice versa. When it comes to exam time, you can test and challenge each other, and get together to work on your coursework and assignments together. As long as you can stay focused on your work for a set amount of time, it can be one of the most effective and supportive ways of learning, and it’s much more fun than working solo.

Making the most of your time in class

Attending classes will take up a large amount of your college week. In order to really make the most of them, you should firstly be punctual and prepared. Get your notes ready for class discussion prior to your lesson and make sure that anything you were unsure of has been clarified by the end of class. Try to get into good habits from the start.

Take notes effectively

It’s important to sort out a strategy that makes note-taking simple. One of the main things to remember is to not try to write everything down; by the time you have finished writing down one point, your teacher will have already made another two or three and moved on! Coming up with your own method of shorthand is one of the best options for speedy note-taking – for example, write “w/o” instead of “without” and “b/w” instead of “between”. It is often good to use symbols such as arrows and visual imagery to make connections. Don’t get bogged down in writing too many details – just focus on information that you can’t look up later and key points that the teacher emphasises. Finally, don’t forget to review your notes immediately after class to add material, make connections, ask questions and reorganise.

Are you or your teenager starting college this year? Let us know how you’re preparing in the comments box below.

Take a look at our education page for books, workbooks and other resources to help you through college.