What every student should know and do
The following list was compiled by Mary Ostrander who teaches COCC's "Study Strategies" class (HD101, 3 credits)
1. Read the College catalog and schedule of classes carefully to learn about COCC's policies, deadlines and resources. You need to know about College resources ahead of time so you can use them as soon as you see a problem starting.
2. Take responsibility for your own educational plan and each quarter's course selection. You'll need to know a) what courses are required for your degree or certificate, including the prerequisites, b) when the courses are offered c) how many credits are reasonable for you to take during a particular quarter (keep in mind work hours, family, health, fixed obligations, etc.) d) what you plan to take in future quarters that may depend on the courses in which you are currently enrolled. While your faculty advisor can help you with checking this, it is important that YOU understand where each course fits into your plan. You are paying money for the courses, but you are also "paying" with the investment of your time, energy and commitment. Don't spend them carelessly!
3. Set specific goals for what grades and learning you want to accomplish each quarter, each week, even each study session. If "C or better" is good enough, you will very likely cruise to the lowest level. If "B+" is your goal, you will be more likely to stay motivated to do what it takes to get there.
4. Go to class. Unlike high school classes, which meet 150+ hours per year, college classes generally meet 30 hours during the 10 weeks of the quarter to cover the same material in greater depth. Since it is easier to have someone teach material than to learn it on your own, attendance is important. Besides, it's a large part of what you're paying for!
5. Take good notes in class. You need class notes both to record the information discussed (so you can review it later) and to create another opportunity to understand and remember material covered. Learning to choose and write down the main points and supporting details is an important college skill to develop. It is also very important to "fix up" these notes within a day of when you take them. The sooner you revise them, the more you will remember.
6. Take notes when you read your textbooks. This is one of the best methods to stay active, concentrate and really think about the material you are reading. Ask yourself questions about the material, and answer them out loud. You must stay involved with your textbook if you want to concentrate and learn the material.
7. Review both your class and text notes on a regular basis. Repetition is a very significant step to learning material well enough to use it on tests and for future concepts. By reviewing today's notes and the last five days' notes every day, if only for 10 - 15 minutes, you will remember what you need to and save LOTS of cramming before tests - you just won't need it.
8. Schedule and invest two to three hours outside of class for every one hour you spend in class. While there are some obvious exceptions (Kayaking, Automotive shop, etc.), this time is generally what is needed to be successful. By the time you revise your class notes, read and take notes on the assigned text, complete, revise and check homework, do something toward your long-term projects, and review the last five days' class work and homework, you will have spent the allotted time. These are the daily activities that contribute to college success.
9. Make very specific weekly, monthly and quarterly schedules for using your time. You need to fit in A LOT of detailed work during the time period, and many of those things just won't happen unless you schedule them. For example, for Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., "review class notes from today and last five days in psychology and writing." You need the longer term schedules because college instructors often give four-, six- or even eight-week long assignments. They don't want a four-day quality paper if they allow eight weeks in which to do it; they want an eight-week quality paper!
10. Learn how to take tests strategically and without unproductive anxiety. While being prepared is the best defense against too much stress, you can also improve your test taking skills by relaxing, breathing, talking constructively to yourself about tests, and learning strategies for different kinds of tests that you will get in college.
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