As you start the second half of a year of remote or hybrid learning, you may be wondering how to better adapt to changes in your education that have made studying increasingly challenging. Whether you’ve found yourself in an academic slump or are doing well in school but are looking to improve your study habits, this resource will help you make the most of another semester of your online educational experience.
Study Tip 1: Manage Your Study Environment
The first step to academic success as a remote learner is to find a study space that feels comfortable and allows you to focus — since you don’t want to fall asleep while working, studying in bed is probably not an ideal option. Every student will have different study space preferences, but in general it’s a good idea to find a place that is relatively private and free of distractions. Once you have found a workspace, you should keep it as clean and organized as possible to maximize your productivity. According to recent neuroscience studies, stress from the pandemic tends to breed clutter, and visual clutter competes with our brain’s ability to pay attention, which eventually tires out our cognitive functions. In other words, taking a few minutes each day to tidy up your study space can help you stay more focused and productive than you would be while working in a cluttered space.
Study Tip 2: Set and Follow a Routine
Setting a schedule for yourself can help provide structure to your day, especially if you’ve found yourself with fewer social and extracurricular commitments. If you used to have a morning routine, such as eating breakfast and exercising before school, you should try to incorporate those activities into your schedule. Keep in mind that carving out time for breaks, nutritious meals, stretches between Zoom sessions, exercise, and calls with friends is as important as scheduling time to work — make sure you don’t fall into the trap of overworking yourself! It is important for you to recharge during these breaks so you can finish strong at the end of the day.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you don’t want your newfound free time to lead to a drop in productivity. You could try using the pomodoro technique to help you stay on track with schoolwork — 25 minutes of studying followed by a 5 minute break — or set your own study time to break time ratio. This will help you create smaller goals that are more achievable, and it will also bring the feeling of accomplishment whenever you complete a full round of successful studying. You should also be sure to refrain from looking at your phone or browsing the internet so that you can give your full attention to your work during scheduled work hours. If you need help overcoming the temptation of distracting technology, you could try using a website blocker and setting your phone to airplane mode while you work.
Study Tip 3: Stay Motivated
Even with a routine in place, how can you stay motivated to stick to your schedule? In addition to reminding yourself about how earning great grades will help you reach your short- and long-term goals, one way to help motivate yourself is to stay connected with people who inspire you and push you to become a better version of yourself. If you need help motivating yourself to complete specific assignments, you could also build rewards into your work, which could be anything from reading for pleasure to watching your favorite TV show after you finish a task.
Study Tip 4: Practice Active Studying
Many students practice passive studying — they reread their notes, powerpoint slides, and other course materials until they feel they have memorized all the information. This strategy may have worked in the past; however, with remote learning, many students have found it more difficult to retain information using traditional study methods. One way to absorb information more effectively is to practice active studying. Active studying can take many different forms, but all active studying strategies involve engaging more deeply with material by manipulating words and concepts in ways that help you better understand them. What exactly could active studying look like? For lecture notes, it could involve explaining the main points in your own words or creating charts that organize related information. For assigned texts, it could be creating an outline, using other resources to create your own quiz such as a Quizlet, or changing chapter headings into questions and looking for answers as you read. For powerpoint slides, it could involve creating flashcards from key words on the slides. No matter which form of active studying you practice, you should make sure you are thinking about concepts in your own words and going beyond passively reading information.
Study Tip 5: Reach Out for Support
Now is the time to lean on your support system — remember that you have family, friends, teachers, and guidance counselors who can help you navigate the academic road bumps that come with remote learning. No one finds studying easy and fun all of the time — it is normal to feel frustrated or discouraged, especially if you did not meet your expectations or reach your goals this past semester. Remember that it is okay to tackle one task at a time and at your own comfortable pace, as long as you stick to your routine. When you feel like you need additional support, make sure to reach out to teachers and peers when you have questions about coursework, guidance counselors when you have questions about overall academic planning and college preparation, and family and friends with any school-related concerns you would like to talk through with another person. If you are looking for further guidance on any aspect of your high school experience or the college admissions process, you could also consider the benefits of working with Command Education’s near-peer mentors and tutors who not only help you work through the academic challenges that come with remote learning, but also help you live up to your potential as a scholar and person.
As you continue to adapt your study habits to remote learning, keep in mind that it is okay to work at a slower pace than usual and take a step back here and there, as long as you are working to change your study habits for the better. We know that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed this school year, but we are confident that following these four tips will both set you up for a successful second semester and build habits that will benefit you throughout high school and beyond.