College is hard work, but you don’t have to struggle alone. The Brandywine Learning Center can help. Our tutors can meet with you one-on-one to discuss your assignment, assist you with understanding your course material, or help you understand how best to study. Review our suggestions below or make an appointment with a tutor to learn more.
Time Management and Organization
- A planner is your new best friend. Having a planned-out schedule makes it easier to remember important dates. Whether it is a due-date, an event, or even a reminder for a dental appointment—planners make it easier to keep track of these.
- Find a scheduler or planner that best fits your needs—a planner app on your phone or a paper datebook can all work well; what works for you depends on what you prefer.
- The Outlook calendar application is a great way to coordinate Zoom meetings and upcoming events.
- Create a study schedule. Schedule time for studying! When scheduling study time, make sure to create a routine that you will stick with. Keep in mind what time works best for you and allows you to concentrate. Maybe in the morning, after breakfast? Maybe in the afternoon, while the lesson is still fresh? Make sure that your study schedule works for you.
- Create to-do lists based on your schedule. In college, there is too much to keep track of, so start creating weekly and daily to-do lists. You can do this on your phone, in a planner or separate notebook, or a big whiteboard next to your bed.
- Rest. Continuous, non-stop learning may sound like a great strategy, but make sure that your schedule includes time for basic life activities and to rest when necessary. You and your brain need the time away to relax and process what you have learned.
- Regular email check-ins. Penn State and your professors use email to communicate important information with you, so check it daily. In addition to that--
- Remember to also respond to those emails which ask you a question
- Check both your Penn State email and Canvas mail
- Consider forwarding one or both of these to a personal account that you check regularly
- Attend class. If you aren’t in class, it’s hard to take notes! If you cannot attend for any reason, make sure you ask a classmate for any missed material.
- Read, or skim, the assigned material before class starts. Reading the material before class will allow you to be familiar with the lesson. It will also make it easier to pick out the important things that you need to write down.
- Consider what writing tools will work best for you. Whether this is a physical notebook, or a laptop—weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each to find what works the best for you.
- For example, you may find that it is much quicker to type out notes on a laptop. Not only that, but typing is neater and more readable, too.
- Or, maybe you are more distracted on a laptop. In that case, handwritten notes may work better for your note taking strategy.
- Implement different note-taking strategies that best suit your style and needs. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. You should also consider what is most effective for the subject or how it is being taught. Some note-taking strategies that might work:
- Cornell Study Method
- Charting Method
- Mapping Method
- Outline Method
Use Your Readings to Your Advantage
- Create a reading schedule. Survey your assigned readings to see how long they are and how much time you’ll need to budget for completing them. Expect to spend an hour for every 20-25 pages.
- Skim your reading assignments to preview the content. When getting started, make sure to look over the title of the chapter and the introduction in order to get a quick summary of the chapter and understand what it is about. Look over the headings of the topics that will be covered in the chapter.
- Pay attention to specially marked phrases. These may be important details, or new terminology that the author wants you to know.
- Ask questions about your reading assignments. After skimming through the chapter, write down any questions that you have about the chapter and answer them after completing the reading. You may even turn the titles or headings into questions that you can try and answer later in your reading notes.
- Annotate your reading assignments or take notes on your reading. Annotating is any action that enhances the reader’s understanding. For example, underline or highlight information that stands out to you. When going over the chapter in the future, it is much easier to see what is important or the key details as your eyes are naturally drawn to this.
- Another method to use when working with your readings is to write down notes or comments that further explain the information in the margins. For example, a comment may be an example that connects the theory to a real-life scenario.