How were your study habits during undergraduate school? It might surprise you to know that even if you earned straight As, you’ll need to adjust your studying habits according to your grad program. For the next 2–5 years, you’ll be faced with plenty of challenges, so it’ll be best if you’re prepared and already know about some differences between undergrad and grad school. Here are some helpful tips that you can use, whether you just started grad school, you’re almost done with grad school, or if grad school is just a twinkle in your eye.
How to Focus on Studying
In your undergrad, you might have been able to get away with watching reruns of a show on television while working on a paper for a non-major class, but in graduate school, you’re in classes that are crucial to your education. Every assignment, paper, and exam needs your full attention. Understandably, many students need music or some white noise while they work, but other than that, eliminate as much distraction as possible. For instance, don’t have your phone out where you will see or hear every text, notification, or update that shows up or sounds an alert. Another way to decrease your distractions is to take frequent breaks every hour to two hours. If you take ten-minute rests to grab a snack or walk around the room a few times, you’ll be more refreshed and focused on the work you have to complete. Another tip that I hope you know by now is that you should avoid cramming for tests/presentations at all cost. Instead, start studying and preparing as soon as they are assigned so that you don’t find yourself scrambling to make up hours and hours of work within one night.
How to Improve Studying
There are a few ways that you’re probably studying that waste your time and energy. For instance, highlighters are usually unnecessary because students don’t know how to use them correctly. Highlighting, underlining, and dog-earing pages should only be used in extreme circumstances when you know you’ll come back to that particular page or passage. Taking notes while reading is going to be one of the best ways of retention because writing notes just after reading important passages will help you remember them later. Another way to help improve study habits is to not be a perfectionist. I know, many of you probably gasped as soon as you read that, but it’s true. If you try to make everything perfect and focus too much on unnecessary details, then you’ll be more focused on performance rather than learning the material. You are, after all, in graduate school to learn your craft and become a field matter expert, which means learning the material. For more tips about improving study habits in this way and others, go to this article on American Psychological Association’s website.
For more tips about study habit differences between undergraduate school and graduate school, read through Tara Kuther’s about.com article. We also have a few articles about adjusting to graduate study and strategies for grad school, so feel free to take a look. Are you struggling when it comes to adjusting to grad school study, or do you have any tips for newcomers? Share in the comment section below.