Beginning college is likely the most exciting yet nerve-wracking adventure you have ever been on in 18 years. Your first priority should be and is to STUDY. With pitfalls creeping around every corner, this may be harder to do than when you lived at home with mom and dad. So, I am going to offer some advice that may help keep those grades high!

1. Schedule a specific time and place to study

Decide on the best place for you to study where distractions are at a minimum. This may be a dorm room, the library, or even the student center. Make sure you are set up helpful tools – highlighters, note cards, post-it notes, etc. You can make a small basket dedicated to holding these items so they are easily accessible daily. Now decide on a time that is free in your schedule for studying. Keep that appointment with yourself every day. Make it your number one priority.

2. Study groups

They are also a great way to learn new material and prepare for tests. This is an excellent method for your harder courses. Ask around and see if a study group already exists in your most challenging courses. If not, create one! Sharing ideas is a great way to build knowledge and maintain material you need for the semester.

3. Ask for help

College can be an intimidating place. But you are there to learn and earn a degree that will lead you to future success. What you do now directly impacts the future you are building. If you do not understand the material you are presented, ask someone for help – the professor, a friend, a classmate, or you can even find help online. If you can, call or go see a former high school teacher for questions. Everyone will need some at some time in college. Be prepared to ask for it.

4. Study tricks

I have always found index cards to be the most helpful. It is easy to write notes, definitions, dates, or names on index cards and use them to memorize new material by flipping them or maybe turning them into a game such as Memory. Reviewing all notes each day for at least 15 minutes is an excellent way to place new material in your long-term memory. Short daily reviews are considered one of the most effective study tools for college students. Highlighting important words can be useful, as well. Many studies suggest highlighting in blue is the most helpful.

5. Do not cram

Most importantly, do not cram. Many college students are infamous for late night cram sessions. You cannot wait the night before to study three weeks worth of material. Most brains do not correctly store material in that manner. You need more time to create the file storage in your mind. You are creating your future. Your effort will directly impact your success. How well do you want to do?