Study Skills for College Students

It has never occurred to me that one can learn how to improve his learning habits. The course has however helped me to improve the way I handle my classes making me much better than I was in the past. This course has concentrated on a variety of concepts including time management, brain plasticity, procrastination, S4QR, education planning, identification of strengths, note taking, goal setting, career interest and occupational research, college research, and getting to know my professor. While most of these skills are indispensable, there are those I have found rather interesting. I will review time management, brain plasticity, procrastination, and SQ4R.

Time management

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Often, students realize a need to hone their time management skills at college. College is different from high school in that one must manage his or her own time to ensure that he does not fall behind in his studies. Failure to manage time well may lead to stress over work build up. A student should keep several things in mind when managing their time. These will give them enough back-up reasons to manage their time.

Time is a student’s greatest asset. This means that it should be carefully managed and protected. Students on the other side should learn that only they are to blame for the valuable time lost. Once time is lost, it means that it cannot be recovered and the student has that time less for him to work on his studies. It is the student’s role the student should not blame too much work either. The assignment is usually assigned in a way that it accommodates every other thing in a student’s life.

A student who needs to manage time needs to learn to take charge of their life. They need to be the ones who decide on what to do with their time. Failure to do this means that the student will have friends manage his time for him. A student however needs to learn to say no to his friends especially when he has something planned for his time.

The student also needs to ensure he does not skip classes. When classes are skipped, the student must then know how to deal with the class work that was covered independently without the help of the teacher. This further builds up stress on students.

The student must also learn to plan for sleeping time. Sleeping time allows his brain to unwind and allows the student time for rest. This way, it has been proved to contribute towards a faster reaction time. Finally, the student must learn how to draw a schedule for his time. This should include all activities that are important for the student.

SQ4R Method of Study

SQ4R is a method of study that provides for organization and repetition both of which are vital for proper study. The method comprises of survey, question, read, recite, record and review.


The first step of studying should be to survey the entire chapter that one is studying. This would include reading over headings and subheadings, looking at charts, graphs and figures, reading through summaries to ensure the student get a rough idea of what the chapter is about.


The student should ask questions based on what he learned from the survey. These questions should seek to get more information over what is already learned but not understood.


The student should now read the whole text. While doing this, he should try to identify the answers he has written in the previous section. No notes should be taken and answers should not be answered.


The student should now read the text again. In this step, he should try to recall the main topics at the end of every subtopic. This section allows the student to internalize the work and should not be skipped.


This section involves making short notes at the end of every subtopic. The notes should be as detailed and as organized as possible.


This step involves an overall review of the paper of the whole work. It can be best done by rereading the work and then making a deliberate effort to recall the important points.


Procrastination is the behavior of postponing work that is allocated to something. Procrastinators know exactly what they need to be doing but cannot do it. A schedule cannot help a procrastinator.


Most procrastinators are optimistic about being able to complete a task on a tight schedule. They accompany this with a reassurance that everything is under control. They only realize that they are not in control once it is too late and they cannot complete the task by themselves.

At this point, they put their effort to completing the task. This sudden gush of energy gives them the false feeling that they work best under pressure. They often have no option at this point but to make progress.  While progress is evidently being made, the students have no freedom at this point.

If the student completes the paper in time and submits, he may earn a good point. However, he gets mixed feelings over such results. First, he may experience a sense of pride and achievement. This reinforces the feeling that he works best under pressure.  Second, he feels he may have been able to do better if he had given enough effort to the task. The relatively good grade that he gets is what motivates him to continue with his poor behavior making things worse and worse over time.

Other characteristics of procrastination include low self esteem and self confidence, stubbornness, manipulation, and coping with pressures.

To resolve procrastination, the student should set himself earlier deadlines and reward himself if he actually completes them. He should also make tasks look smaller. Smaller tasks are easier to handle and often the procrastinator may be readier to perform.

Brain plasticity

Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself throughout life. It does this by making new connections between brain cells or neurons. Plasticity is affected by various factors including the environment, genetics and the activities a person engages in. There are three major reasons why neuro-plasticity may occur. First, it occurs at the beginning of life as the immature brain systematizes itself. Second, it occurs after one has had a brain injury and attempts to compensate for misplaced functions and to maximize the functions that remain. Finally, the brain undergoes plasticity during adulthood as the brain attempts to accommodate what one learns or memorizes.

Plasticity, memory and learning

Research shows that the brain never stops to grow even as one ages. It continues to form new connections as one learns and memorizes new things. When one learns new concepts and ideas, the brain forms connections between neurons to accommodate what has been learned. When these connections are formed, the structure of the existing synapses may change.

People may gain prowess in certain areas of their lives as they develop the areas of their brains that are responsible with this function. The more one uses a certain section of their brain, the more they grow that sector of their brain. A person who spends more time travelling for example may for example have a bigger hippocalamus which is responsible for storing routes and maps. People who learn a second language on the other hand have larger parietal cortexes than those who have only one language. Finally, it has been proven that learning of abstract information contributes to plastic developments of the brain. Brain plasticity may also be either permanent or temporary. Those students who are studying for exams are known to have bigger parietal cortexes and hippocalamus than those who are not studying for it. These are the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory storage and retrieval.


The learning experience has been good in this class. I have come to learn a lot of things that will be definitely useful to my learning experience. Being a procrastinator my self in the past, I have learned how I can fight this problem effectively and successfully. I have also learned the most important factors about time and how I can be effectively manage it. The experience has also enabled be to realize how I can maximize my brain functions by exposing it to more and more valuable information. Finally, I have learned an invaluable method of studying which has proved to be effective most of the time in understanding most concepts in this class and others. The SQ4R method is definitely going to contribute to my learning experience positively.

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