Study Tips from Someone with Bad Study Skills


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If you’re like me, the end of the semester is approaching way too quickly. I was bopping along, staying relatively on top of assignments, and then Thanksgiving hit. And now suddenly, winter break is right around the corner and with it comes a slew of deadlines.

Intellectually, I knew that December was coming, but I didn’t expect the end of the semester to sneak up on me like this. Now I’m scrambling to finish assignments and projects. With finals approaching, my already-questionable study skills are being put to the test.  

Here are some study tips that I’ve learned throughout my time at Millikin. This is more of a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do situation, but I hope that another tired, chronically behind college student will find my advice helpful. I believe in all of us. Let’s band together and finish strong!

Tip 1: Figure out how to manage time. When I got to college, time management was the most important skill that I had to learn, and I haven’t quite learned yet. I’ve tried planners and online schedule generators, and while these things have helped, I suspect that the most effective time management tool is self-control. Unfortunately, you can’t buy that in the office supply aisle of Target.

Self-control means less time scrolling through Instagram and more time doing assignments. Less time watching Netflix and more time writing papers. Less time tapping through Snapchat stories and more time—okay, you get it. I don’t have cool hobbies and I don’t manage time well. Be better than me. 

Tip 2: Do homework before midnight. This might tie into the time management tip, but it still feels relevant, especially since I haven’t learned it yet. Midnight always sneaks up on me. What do I do between 6 P.M. and 11 P.M.? Where do these hours go?   

I tend to wrap up papers around 2 A.M. on the day that they’re due. Yup, I’m that student. We all have nights like this, but personally, it has become a common occurrence. I always think that I’ll do better next time, like I’ll suddenly find the time management skills that are so elusive. I’m always surprised when it’s the night before and I have nothing written.  

I’m taking a risk by admitting this in the newspaper, so I’d like to offer a public apology to my professors and ask that they not hate me. They probably suspected this anyway after reading my 2 A.M. essays, but now I’ve confirmed it, and I’m SORRY. 

Tip 3: Take care of yourself. Yes, this actually is important. When you’re overwhelmed with assignments and extracurriculars, self-care gets pushed to the back burner. You forget to prioritize sleeping, eating, and spending time with friends.

I totally get it (see: 2 A.M. essays). But when you aren’t taking care of yourself, there can be really serious effects. That project can wait. Don’t sacrifice your health for your grade.

Or, if your health and happiness aren’t good enough motivators to take care of yourself, think in terms of your to-do list. You aren’t as productive as you are after you’ve slept. You need to eat so you have the energy to function. Taking breaks and seeing friends are proven ways to re-energize and refresh. So really, it’s in the best interest of everyone if you take care of yourself.  

Look at that, I’ve tricked you into practicing self-care! Manipulation for the win!

But on a serious note, I know that the end of the semester is overwhelming for a lot of people. I promise that you’ll get everything done. Keep in mind that while finals are fast-approaching, so is winter break. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished this semester, and gear up for a well-deserved break. 

And in the meantime, hopefully these tips will help make these last few weeks slightly easier. Happy Finals!