College is an exciting time! You meet new people, experience new things, and grow as an individual. However, college is also about classes, quizzes, exams, homework, meeting with professors, studying, and gaining knowledge and skills for success in the "real world." In order to be successful, you need to put in the time and attention focusing on those specific areas. Unfortunately, you may often underestimate the amount of time necessary to do well in college.
You may have been able to get by studying only 3-5 hours per week in high school because you were in class 30 hours per week and involved in extracurricular activities. When you arrived at college, you probably had no idea how many hours of studying would be enough. You probably expected college to be harder and doubled or tripled your study hours to 10-15 hours per week (approximately 2 hours per day). While those hours may feel sufficient, that amount of time is not enough.
For every hour in class, you should spend 3 hours outside of class studying. Therefore if you are taking 12 units, you should be studying 36 hours per week. Outside of class studying can take on different forms. It can mean sitting in the library reading a book, reviewing notes taken during class, asking questions during office hours, receiving tutoring, working on an experiment in a science lab, or engaging in online BeachBoard study modules. Studying does NOT include reading a book while browsing Facebook and texting on the phone.
Tips for studying 36 hours per week:
- Think about when and where you learn best. Studying on the bed might be comfortable but unproductive if you are too comfortable and fall asleep. Find a place where you can focus and avoid distractions. Also, think about what time of the day you are at your best. When do you have the most energy to study? For most students, it is not at 3:00am.
- Figure out what you need to know. Spending time studying the wrong material can be as detrimental as not studying at all. Therefore, take time to look at your syllabus, look at your notes from class, and talk to your professor. What material did your professor cover in class? What has been emphasized? What key concepts were covered? What didn't you understand?
- Plan study sessions in your schedule and stick to it. One great thing about college is there are so many opportunities on campus. In fact, it is important to get involved. However, being too involved can be detrimental to your academic success. It can be tempting to forget studying and do something else. But if you plan study sessions in your schedule, you will be more likely to keep them. Think of them like a doctor's appointment- they might be a pain at times but they are important to keeping you on track and in good standing.
Benefits of studying 36 hours per week:
- Earn a high GPA. Yes, it is true that "C's get degrees" but in our current economy, it is difficult to obtain your ideal career with a 2.0 GPA (or a straight C average). Your GPA not only reflects your mastery of scientific/mathematical knowledge, but it also reflects your work ethic to potential employers. Earning a high GPA will also increase your competitiveness for graduation and professional school admissions.
- Increased study hours = Higher earning potential. University of California researchers Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks looked at academic and economic trends from the past 50 years. The researchers examined data from 1961 – 2004, and for full-time students at 4-year colleges, found a strong correlation between study time and future earnings.
- Access to free money through scholarship awards. There is a plethora of free money out there for students. For most scholarships, you must have a competitive GPA (typically a 3.0 or above) and letters of recommendation from professors to qualify. If you are studying 36 hours per week, visiting professors during office hours, and performing well in class, that free money will be within reach!