3 Ways to Transition into College Study Habits Now

Take this advice to begin gradually adapting to the changes you’ll experience in college life, beginning now.

By Tiffany Sorensen, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

March 02, 2016

3 Ways to Transition into College Study Habits Now

Did you know it is never too early to start preparing for college? Even before you decide on which college you will attend, there are small efforts you can make to ensure a smooth freshman year.

Some of the biggest differences between high school and college are the amount of reading, level of vocabulary, and general expectations of students.

By taking the advice below, you can gradually adapt to these changes ahead of time.

1. Learn to love reading

College classes are notorious for excessive amounts of reading material. It is not uncommon for a professor to assign 70 pages or more of reading in a week. Like it or not, this is the way of most college courses, and it will probably not change anytime soon.

Now is the time to transition into the pace and vigor of college-level reading. Ween yourself off the harmful habit of skimming online summaries instead of reading the text.

While you may have done alright with that technique in the past, your luck is bound to run out. In college, the assigned readings are more obscure and specialized, so a summary won’t cut it.

Do yourself a favor and get used to doing all your readings in their entirety. It will make college classes a little less grueling, and it will make you a much better reader and student!

2. Expand your vocabulary

In college, your professors might use words like “salient” and “innocuous” without explaining their definitions. That is because many professors will expect students to have a broader, mature vocabulary by the time they reach university.

You will come across more complex words in your readings and lectures, and your professors will expect you to employ a higher register of vocabulary in your essays. In a college-level research paper, calling a scholar’s argument “good” is unacceptable; instead, you should opt for a stronger adjective, such as “compelling” or “persuasive.”

Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to improve one’s lexicon is by reading. But you will not reap this benefit by reading just anything; it must be material that is challenging and age-appropriate.

When you come across a word that is unfamiliar to you, do not just blow past it. First, try to deduce what it may mean based on the context. Then, look up its definition and take notes in the margin. Many times, you will see the same words appear over and over again, especially if it is technical vocabulary for a specific field.

By paying extra attention to new words, your vocabulary will steadily increase.

3. Hold yourself accountable

In high school, teachers sometimes remind students about deadlines and upcoming tests. They may even accept assignments turned in late once in a while. In college, professors are not obligated to prod students about policies or the timeline of the course. It is the student’s responsibility to stay on track, record important dates, and complete assignments according to standards.

Some professors will not accept any late assignments at all. Although attendance is not always mandatory with college classes, it is the student’s job to collect missed notes and paperwork, as well as to be prepared for upcoming assessments.

The ins and outs of the class tend to be noted on the course syllabus, which all your professors expect you to read and carefully take into account. You are close to being a college student—it is upon you to depend less on others and more on yourself.

Be proactive; keep an agenda pad where you write down assignments and dates of tests. Ask for extra help if you do not understand a topic, rather than waiting for your teacher to offer it. If you forget to study for a quiz, accept your mistake and aim to do better next time.



Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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