College Study Habits and Time Management

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Developing good time management skills and effective study habits is critical to your success in college - not to mention your en­joyment of college life. Fortunately, working out a simple time management system and devising effective study strategies is less about gimmicks than it is about common sense. Follow these simple steps, and we can guarantee that you'll be well on your way to a productive life in college.

Get Organized and Stay Organized

Getting organized and developing a simple system to stay that way are among your first orders of business when you get to college. The first thing you need to decide is what your organizational tool is going to be. For those of us who still love working on paper, it could be a twenty-four-hour day planner, or even something as simple as a desk calendar. For others, it may be a PDA. Whatever tool you choose, it will be the one place where you will record all your classes, meetings, assignments, exam dates, and paper deadlines.

As soon as you've decided which classes you'll be taking during your fall semester, it's time to "rip" your course syllabi into this calendar. All your class meeting times go into the calendar, as do the due dates of all problem sets, lab reports, and other assignments. Dates of all quizzes, tests, midterms, term papers, and finals also go immediately into the calendar.

Find Your Study Place On Campus

It is time to decide where you plan to go to get your daily work done. And it shouldn't be your dorm room - even if you live in a single.


Because there are way too many distractions in your dorm room. People will come to visit you or your roommates. You will be tempted to surf the Web, play computer games, download music, or just chill out. Your roommates, suitemates, or hallmates, who may be on a totally different schedule (or have a significantly different work ethic), may draw you into a conversation, a card game, or a television show, or convince you to go out for a drink, a bite to eat, or to do something else on campus.

In short, your dorm room is where you should go to hang out and relax. It is not the place where you should try to study or get serious work done.

So where should you go?

Our advice is to find a quiet, out-of-the-way place on campus where you know you can be undisturbed. It is completely a matter of your personal preference, so seek out a place where you feel comfortable and empowered to do your best work. For me, it was a particular reading room tucked into the corner of the Yale library. It had little alcoves with comfortable leather chairs with side tables and individual reading lamps, and each alcove had its own window, which made it easy to regulate temperature and get fresh air. It was part of the main library, but isolated enough so as not to get a lot of foot traffic. Other than during reading period, when I usually retreated to a carrel on a high floor in the stacks (when I wanted to be completely undisturbed and unable to be found), I was a regular there on Sunday through Thursday nights.

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