In college, it took me 3 semesters to outgrow my awful study habits from high school and I had to do it the hard way. Here's tips from a Yale alum on his way to a PhD on how to study effectively in college and ensure your success! A thread 🧵!
My experience in those 3 semesters: I rarely pulled all-nighters but many nights I got 3 or 4 hours of sleep, which is close to nothing. It takes a toll on your body and it makes you dread starting your work. And it affected my grades. I realized I needed a serious change.
1. The BIGGEST change I made was understanding that doing a little bit everyday is good. Starting work and getting over that initial worry is half the battle. Instead of leaving psets to the last 2-3 days before the due date, I actually started them the day they were assigned.
Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't finish them that very day! But getting home, cracking open the pset and knocking out even half a question made me feel SUPER good. Like wow, I have a week left and I'm already 20% done?! Heck yeah!
It then becomes so much easier to tackle a little bit the next day and the day after and so on, and you suddenly find yourself done days before!
2. OFFICE HOURS. CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH! GO TO OFFICE HOURS! Your TA and prof want to help, and they will. Even if you feel your question is 'simple,' please go! Your instructors want to ensure your success, genuinely.
Also, professors like to see effort. Going to office hours facilitates connections and can help when it comes time to ask for a letter of rec in the future, if you ever want career/academic advice, and so on.
3. Collaborate with peers! I think there's a right and wrong way to do this, however. If you give a problem a good and honest try before you work with friends, it's likely you'll both make fast work of it once you put your brains together.
But, if you don't, it's really easy to feel lost, because while you're still getting up to speed on it, your peers will make short work of it.
4. University lecture slides! They are SO helpful! Use this Google tip: say I want to study quantum entanglement. I'd Google "quantum entanglement notes filetype:pdf" (no quotes).
By doing this, Google will ONLY give me .pdf results, which are overwhelmingly likely to be lecture notes from other universities, and they're amazing references and study material that give you the material through a different lens.
5. Simple, but read the textbook before starting the pset! You're gonna have a bad time otherwise. It helps to consolidate the material so that you can give it a good and honest try on the homework.
6. That being said, don't be afraid to seek out alternative sources. For any topic, there's dozens of textbooks, and some just treat the material better. Everybody has a favorite. You might find a certain textbook is WAY better for your style of learning than another.
Use your college library or the Internet! If you need help finding a particular textbook, just PM me!
7. Make use of the other resources available to you. Peer tutors? Study breaks and study sessions? College tutors? Every uni and college has a ton of resources through their center for teaching & learning, so see what they got.
8. Get a good night's rest. Your brain won't synthesize information if you don't sleep. Do what you gotta for your sleep routine: white noise? Fan on? Sleep mask? Blackout curtains? Melatonin? Warm milk? Anything to help you sleep well is well worth it.
9. Try to review your notes regularly! Like after a week of classes, if you sit down and even quickly flip through them, I promise that will pay dividends when it comes time for the final.
10. Making study sheets! I often times found myself re-writing important equations/derivations into a sheet and just flipping through it every once in a while. It helped me memorize, and it was especially valuable to look through in those ten minutes before the exam.
11. Find your group. Going back to what I was saying before about collaborating, don't work with people who will make you feel dumb for not getting something. I've been there. Find peers and friends who reciprocate: you support them and they do the same for you.
12. Don't study in bed, if possible. Research shows you should only relax & sleep in bed, and doing homework in bed leads to less effective studying and worse sleep quality. This may not be practical for everyone, but if you can study in a different place, try it.
13. Take a break. Toiling on a problem for hours on end has diminishing returns. Your brain subconsciously makes connections and 'thinks' about problems when you refocus your attention on other things.
Do other work or just relax. But don't burn yourself out; studying 12 hours in the day is not going to feel relaxing, efficient, or good.
14. Most of these tips have been pset-oriented, I realize. For papers, I sincerely recommend your college/uni's writing center, they are phenomenal when it comes to any part of the paper process: outlining, drafting, proofreading, etc. Go to them!
Hope this helps!
Forgot to add this! Let's talk about asking for extensions!

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