The BEST Study tips for College.

In light of back to school, I decided to continue my college tips series for the next few weeks. I have been getting an overwhelmingly amazing response on them the past few days, inspiring me to add more great content for my lovely readers 🙂 I have a list of posts I thought I could write regarding college, and study tips are at the top of the list.

You may have been an academic hotshot in high school, but in college everything changes. The professors expect more from you, you aren’t reminded of important dates, and you are the only one who really cares about your own success. In my high school experience my hand was held the entire time. Teachers offering conferences to read over essays, extra credit opportunities around every corner, and teachers offering class time and daily reminders for upcoming due dates.

Needless to say, college was a culture shock.

After my first few weeks I realized my old system of studying wasn’t working for me. While I coasted through high school fairly easily, (except for math, math killed me) it hit me that my old system of skimming my notes for a few minutes and still acing my tests simply wasn’t going to cut it in college.

The method I came up with to study and stay organized is fail proof – just so long as you keep up with it. (My best tip will be at the very bottom, be sure to read all the way through!)

Check out for the BEST #college #studying tips!

Get Organized

I wrote an entire post on getting organized in college, but let me gloss over the key points:

♦ Write everything down. If you have to do it in the future, it should be written down.

♦ I highly recommend a whiteboard so you can prioritize and rearrange your to-do lists.

♦ Your homework area should be kept clean. If there is a mountain of loose papers, food wrappers, or anything else covering your desk, you are going to be so much less likely to actually start working. Keep your desk clean.

Get a study buddy

Find a like minded friend to study with. You’re going to want to study with someone that you won’t get off track with. I have found asking someone I only sort of  know from one of my classes to study with me worked a lot better than studying with my friends. Not only do we not have much to talk about other than the only thing we have in common – our class, but it’s an easy way to make friends. During your study session you’ll probably stay pretty focused on the material, and you may also find that you enjoy each other’s company as well.

Take notes by hand

I use my laptop to take notes in class – it’s quicker for me so I can spend more time focusing on the lecture. But if the topic is complicated or something I am having trouble grasping I always copy my notes from google docs into my notebook. And after that I copy them from my notebook onto flashcards. Which brings us to…

Study off flashcards

I love flashcards, they are a classic studying tool and they are great! You are studying while you make them, and you can use them to study anywhere. When I’m feeling fancy I will hole punch my flashcards and put them on a keyring to stay organized, otherwise I’ll just clip them together and throw them in my backpack to look at when I have downtime.


This was the hardest one for me to get used to. In high school I would study for a day or two before an exam and be fine – in college there is simply too much material. Even on my lazy, class was cancelled, do nothing days I still studied. Second semester I started trying to arrive to class about 10 minutes early so I could skim the previous weeks notes to get my head in the subject. I didn’t have class on Fridays so I used my free day from the time I woke up until lunch time to review what I’d learned that week. My system saved me so much stress when it came time for exams.

Don’t always study your book

WHAT!?!?!?! You heard me. There will be classes that simply do not use the book, they make you spend $90 dollars for something that won’t be utilized and it sucks. But it’s a sad reality. In the beginning of the semester do all of your readings and study hard from your class notes and books. And after the first exam decide if it contained any questions from the books. Chances are you’ll have a class or two that is entirely based on lecture. Professors like to do that to encourage attendance and drain student’s already light pockets. You can also check ratemyprofessor before the semester starts to see if you even need to buy the book.

Reward yourself

I make myself promises like “If you can get through your entire stack of flashcards with no mess ups then you can go get your favorite ice cream” or “If you study for an hour with no distractions then you can watch a movie tonight.” Working towards an immediate goal, for some reason, gives me more drive than my ultimate goal of graduating, getting into grad school, then getting my dream job. While I want those things more than anything, I also really like ice cream.

Set Goals

I have a list of all of my long term and short term goals tucked away in a journal. I like to look at them when I get discouraged. I also will write my weekly goals on my whiteboard. Having these goals helps me remember that all of the hard work I am doing is serving a purpose.


If you have been following these tips and studying every day then there is absolutely no need to pull an all nighter before every exam. I am not going to lie, there were a few exams that I did need to stay up all night to prepare for but I was far less stressed than most of my peers, because unlike a lot of them I developed a routine and I stuck to them.


I cannot stress this one enough. At the beginning of the semester your professor is going to give you a packet of paper that tells you exactly how to pass their class. The syllabus will outline due dates, exam dates, readings, and what part of your grade each assignment accounts for. Yet so many students never look at them again after that first week.

Once you get your syllabus I recommend that you copy down every single due date, exam date, and reading into your planner. Mark on your planner 1 week before an exam, so that if you weren’t already studying now you know to start, and if you are really dedicated, use sticky notes to mark readings in your books and write the date it must be read by on there. When you finish a reading, remove the sticky note.

Studying in college is a lot easier than a lot of students make it out to be. As long as you’re organized and you’re dedicated then you should be absolutely fine. If you are going into freshman year, there is a good chance that you’re going to be overwhelmed at first. Take a deep breath – it gets easier. You get used to having to learn on your own and put up with a demanding schedule, I promise.

If this post helped you it would mean the world to me if you would take a moment to subscribe over on the side bar!! You can also check out all of my social media sites, while you’re at it!

  • I’m really going to have to work harder this semester. This semester is going to be incredibly challenging with blogging, advanced organic chemistry, honors analytical, trig, and world history.

    Thank you so much for the tips! I’ll really need to follow them 🙂

    • Allison Raines

      Wow! That does sound like a hectic schedule. I’ll be taking Introductory Japanese and trying to manage a blog at the same time, while also keeping up with seven English books for two English classes! Advanced organic chemistry would be my death sentence, lol. Good luck, Melanie! Can you shoot me a link to your blog? I’d love to check it out 🙂

    • Deep breaths! I am cheering for you, Melanie!! 🙂 That honestly sounds so difficult, but I know you can do it!

      And I hope that they help you!!!

  • THE SYLLABUS, YES! Perfect list. You’re excellent.

    • Aw, shucks. Thanks, Tiffany. 🙂
      You’re excellent, as well.

  • When I was in college (while working full time) I used to write stuff down on post-its and stick them to my dashboard to study while I was stuck in traffic or at a red light!

    • College AND working full time! You’re crazy and I’m beyond impressed. I don’t know how your head didn’t explode! But that is a really great tip 🙂

  • Allison Raines

    I love the tips! Great advice for any upcoming freshman or college student in general! My favorite tips are rewarding yourself and setting your goals, and I also love the idea of putting sticky notes in textbooks to mark the pages that are due for certain days — I haven’t tried that before. P.S. I totally relate to you on many levels. 1) High school was a breeze for both of us; we never had to study. 2) We’re both going into our second year of college — after being overwhelmed by our first year, of course. 3) We both love ice cream. I’m happy to know we have so much in common! Haha 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Allison! I am glad that you found the tips helpful! 🙂

      Oh my gosh, our similarities are crazy! Haha. Now for the ultimate test of similarity: we both love ice cream, but what is your FAVORITE ice cream?

      • Allison Raines

        That is an incredibly difficult question to answer! I would have to say literally anything created by Ben & Jerry’s. Ugh, everything by them is so delicious… Right now I love their ‘core’ flavors. Hazed & Confused is AMAZING haha. What about you??

        • Oh boy, Ben and Jerry’s – brilliant! I love love love them 🙂 I spent over three years working at an ice cream shop so for a while my favorite was constantly changing but now I’ve got two: The classic chocolate chip cookie dough and then Mississipi mud which is a light coffee flavored icecream with fudge and oreos! So yummy 🙂

  • Rene Michele

    Yeah, these posts are positively, absolutely, completely BRILLIANT. I’m going into my freshman year, and I’ve been DEVOURING these blog entries. They have been so much help! Half of the things listed here I would never have guessed. A MILLION THANKS!

    • Aw, why thank you!! 🙂 You are so nice! I am so glad that they are helping you! Good luck on your freshman year, you’ll love it!! 🙂

  • Wow this was a great article! You seem to be able to manage your time really well. How do you do avoid intense procrastination?

    • I like to have my nights to myself, so I know if I put off doing my work then instead of relaxing all night I will be up working, and I HATE that, so I suppose that gives me a ton of motivation to get things done!

  • Kim

    Just saw this post and I really like it. I’m starting college in September and I’m quite nervous cause I don’t really know what to expect…This helped me a lot thank you…cause I am that stressed girl..usually. ..don’t lie…always

    • I am so glad that it helped you, Kim! Don’t worry, it’s intimidating at first but you get used to it so quickly and you’ll love it!

  • Amber

    I’m going into grad school in a week and a half and I still like to see what other people think are the best ways to study. Love to find a new trick to help keep myself from becoming stressed. All your suggestions were spot on.

    • Good luck at grad school, that’s awesome!! And thank you, I’m sure I still have a lot to learn, but for now this system is working for me 🙂

  • disqus_ORyeBNO5au

    I am going into my senior year in college and I found these tips very helpful! High school was pretty easy overall for me. My first two years of college were not easy but they weren’t study every night kind of deals either. My junior year everything got 100 times harder and I felt like I was a freshmen again. I wasn’t studying right, I thought my old tricks would work, learned the hard way that memorization wont work anymore, etc. This year I decided to really crack down on myself and push through! I really like your rewarding yourself tip. I never thought of doing that before but I am going to implement that now. Thanks for the tips!

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  • I love these. I’m a junior in college this year, and I was looking for some refresher tips as I get back into the swing of things. You’re spot on with all of these – I just needed to be reminded that good studying is possible and important. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Gwen

    I really never thought about rewarding myself from studying & writing down goals on a white board to get done. I’m going to have to do that for sure! I definitely agree with everything else on the list! Flashcards are my best friend as well!! 🙂

  • ashley12691

    I liked this a lot, great tips!

  • LaRhonda Porter

    Great tips!!! Thanks!!! I am working full time, in college and taking care of a family …I need all the tips I can get!!

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  • Taylor Matthews

    PERFECT! I wish I would have found this list prior to beginning college. It took me up until this year (I’m a senior) to finally figure out what works best for me. The syllabus DOES matter and waiting until the night before a test to study will not benefit you! Great tips to live by!

  • Kiernan

    Thanks so much! Im not in college, but I am in a charter school and have been getting used to learning the material on my own and getting a schedule down, and this helped so much!

  • Brooke

    GREAT advice! Thank you so much! I’ve been having issues staying motivated to study and your tips are stellar! I actually have hope of improving my grades this semester and next! Simple tips make me way motivated!!! Thanks again!

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  • Lea Bell

    I love the idea with the sticky notes in the books! So smart! I always have the hardest time keeping up with the readings, it’s just so time consuming. Between working full time and school it’s hard to get it all done.

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  • Kaylee Crosby
  • LaurelMusical

    Lovely post! <3 <3

  • This is my first year in college and it was such a SHOCK. I didn’t study at all in high school, I just didn’t really need to. College changed everything. I’m really struggling to get the hang of everything even though it’s already my second semester. This list is amazing and I plan on using ALL of the tips!

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  • tannawings

    You have them all down! Ha! I went to college as a non trad student, worked full time , was married, had a cat rescue, AND raised teens. It was hectic but it is doaable. I dont think I slept much thogh because I made it out in under 4 years and one semester carried 21 hours.
    Youre right about dont always study the book I cant tell you how many books were a total waste. I went almost totally by notes and if it was a book class went by that.
    My other tip is study groups- use them! I had a stats class we had to take and all the non trads ( the students who had kids, worked etc) we got together and studied together. There were 6 of us, and the prof talked with an accent and very fast. It took all 6 of us to piece together what he said and catch on. We all managed to get out of there with solid 3.0 and it was tough.
    Youre going to do fine- you sound serious and you sound like you have your head on straight. Thats very rare in one so young!

  • Rebecca Adams

    What kind of mead notebook is that in the picture?

    • It is a mead five star, five subject notebook with dividers.

      I tried to find them on Amazon but couldn’t! I got mine at Target in the back to school section last summer!

  • Jennie Marsland

    As an old broad with a lot of experience as a student and a teacher, I have to say you nailed it! Organization is the key.
    In my very first university math class, the prof gave us a talk on survival in university. One thing he said has stayed with me through all the years since then: “You won’t ever regret the time you spent relaxing or having fun, but you will regret the time you wasted. And the students who have the most fun are the ones who are getting their work done.” Truth.

  • Flashcards and continuous studying are really great together. It takes our brain awhile to actually store the information in the “long-term” memory that’s why studying a huge chunk of material in one night wouldn’t do us any good.

  • Shane Love

    Hey everyone. I found that when it comes to studying for a test, a good way to ensure success is to change your study method. I hope this helps since it helped me and still helps me to remember almost anything.

  • fatima

    This post is really helpful..thanks.