The sun brushes over the horizon, watching over the Hudson in the hush of a February morning on the Hillside. We are called into morning. I remember waking up to scenes like this my Junior Year of my time at Nyack. Junior Year was one of the most intense years of my college experience. Junior Year is like that for everyone. Classes and content are challenging every ounce of your being. Sometimes you don’t understand something until you’ve been challenged and forced into figuring it out for yourself. Junior Year was the year when I was forced to forge solid study habits to meet the challenges of that year. It took me a while to figure out a system, but here are some habits that worked for me.
I’d like to add a disclaimer, though. Everyone learns differently, it’s this extraordinary blessing called diversity that creates these differences, because God gave humanity diversity in order that we might enrich and renew one another. May these habits give you ideas to figure out your own systems as you cultivate solid study habits.
- Figure Out the Noise: You need to figure out what level of noise creates your best study environment. Some people are distracted by silence and need background noise, while others need silence that could be confused with prayer in church. If you need total quiet, the Silent Section in the Bailey Library is the best place on campus.
- Plan: Read that syllabus and chart out major due dates on a planner. Doing this for exams became a survival strategy for me. One semester I had a History exam that I realized would take 10 hours of study to pass. However, because I wrote down the date of the exam months in advance, I was able to plot out time 1-2 weeks before the test and pace my time spent studying. It might sound like a crazy idea, but I passed that test.
- Find a Strategy to Focus In Class: Taking notes was a strategy I used to keep me focused in class. I had a reputation for intense focus, but that was only because I took notes. Otherwise, my mind would have wandered into the pros and cons of dog sledding in Florida in July.
- “It Is Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse the Darkness”: That’s a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, and it means that when faced with challenges it is better to work at fixing the problem and refuse to waste time complaining. We waste so much time moaning about the workload, professors, or our own inadequacies. Friends, I’ve been in all three of those places. I understand. Then I began to realize something. I began to realize that education was a gift offered into my own hands, and it was my task to strategize and fight for that gift. That meant figuring out how to manage my time, plan time to study, and try different strategies until I developed a system of solid study habits.
Friends, no matter what your experiences with study habits have been, you can do this. Start by adding one or two habits into your life a week. You’ll be amazed at how motivated you’ll feel, and how less stressed the middle and end of your semester will be. You completely, totally, and beautifully can do this.