Beginning college opens a new world of opportunities and freedom. Gone are a routine daily schedule and teachers who remind you to turn in your assignments. Instead, you get to set the pace for your day and choose when and how you will study. Freedom can present new challenges and problems as you learn how to become an independent learner. Create and follow a schedule, familiarize yourself with campus resources, prioritize your work and take responsibility for study habits to ensure success.

Establish a Schedule

You may only have one or two classes per day, so determine how to spend the rest of your time. Create a schedule that includes time for studying, working out and socializing. Use a schedule such as one created by The Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth College to help you begin scheduling your time. Stick to this schedule. If you to veer from your established schedule, rearrange things to get everything done.

Seek Resources

Every college student encounters a class at some point that seems daunting. Don’t let this get you down. Seek extra help from your professor or academic support center. Professors hold office hours each week, and this is the time to meet with them about any issues or concerns. If you talk to a professor as soon as you are having trouble, you will find her to be even more supportive of you than if you wait until your are hopelessly behind on your assignments. College campuses provide tutors, academic help centers and other programs to help students who are struggling in course work. Seek out this help.


It may be enticing to have fun with friends, attend campus programs or stay up late and sleep in, but balance work and play. Review long-term assignments for the semester. Break those down and note due dates in priority order. Set aside time early in the semester to complete all of your assignments in advance of assigned due dates.

Take Responsibility

Become an active learner, says Dianna L. Van Blerkom, author of “College Study Skills: Becoming a Strategic Learner.” Take notes in class during lectures and as you are reading the material outside of class. Merge your thoughts from both sets of notes and review them throughout the semester so that you will be prepared at final exam time. The University of Michigan Academic Advising and Career Center suggests that you study two to three hours outside of class for every course hour you spend in class per week. This would mean that for a three-hour class, you would study six to nine hours per week.

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