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Four Ways To Master Your College Class Material

Many students who did well in high school can find themselves floundering in college. Take more difficult courses combined with a faster pace, add in the lack of an involved parent making sure you do your homework and have the resources you need to excel and many college students can quickly find themselves overwhelmed. But mastering college classes is not impossible, it just takes the development of some new strategies and tools. Here are four great strategies for mastering college material.

  1. Take notes

An old Chinese proverb states:

“Tell me and I’ll forget;

show me and I may remember;

involve me and I’ll understand.”

While there is a great deal of research on multi-sensory involvement at the elementary secondary school levels, at the college level it is expected that by now you will have learned to involve yourself. While all of the same principles hold true in adults as children – the more senses you engage in learning, the better you will learn – by adulthood it has become your responsibility to involve yourself rather than expecting your instructor to engage you. Your instructor is there to instruct, it’s your job to extract everything you can from that instruction.

There are also a plethora of note taking apps to make you more efficient at taking notes. Apps like Evernote allow you to upload files and store files with the touch of a button. Evernote even has a function that allows you to share note taking responsibilities with different students. Although, it is best to take your own notes to help with retention, but sometimes other students catch things that you don’t.

  1. Use a tutor

Too often, there is a negative social stigma to being tutored. In reality, almost all students engage in some form of tutoring from an early age. It may be just getting a friend who is better in a certain subject to help you, but that’s still tutoring. College level course work is vastly more diversified than high school level coursework, however, and some “basic” level courses are actually far more advanced than others. Whether you simply find someone in the class who excels to help you out, or whether you go through a formal tutoring center, college is the time to get over the stigma of asking for help. There are also many digital sites to help you learn.

There are several different online tutor websites such as Chegg, Pearson Smarthinking, and 24 Hour Answers. Though a majority of these sites require some form of payment or membership to receive help, they can be beneficial when you find yourself in a tough spot. It is important to remember that most sites also offer free trials, and some minimal aid for free, providing more options for you.

  1. Use time management apps

 Again and again it has been proven that “cramming” doesn’t work. You can’t master an entire term’s worth of course material in a few days, weeks or even hours. Instead, steady blocks of as little as half an hour of study over the 8-12 weeks of a course can have a far greater impact on learning and retention than trying to fit it all in at the end. Even studying for several hours at once can actually be counterproductive. Apps like Flat Tomato can help you break up your studies into manageable chunks that will be far more effective in the long run than trying to cram everything in once a week or once a semester, quarter, or term.

Other time management apps to consider are Easily Do and LastPass. LastPass is different from most time management apps because it stores all of your passwords and login information. The app automatically fills in all of the details for the number of different logins you might have, saving time.

Easily Do has a basic free package with the option to upgrade. It accesses all of your different calendars, emails, and contacts and will conveniently store them in one space. For example, if you have a work calendar, a personal calendar, and a school calendar, they will all be combined into one.

  1. Use Course Hero

 What is Course Hero? Course Hero is an online networking service that gives you access to millions of study resources, including courses specific to your school.

Want to find out whether to take Econ 101 with Dr. Smith or Professor Jones? Course Hero offers advice on which instructors to take based on your personal needs. If you are an Economics major and want to the most rigorous instruction, you might want Professor Jones, but if it’s a General Ed course you just need to get through, you might want to take Dr. Smith’s class. Course Hero can help you determine which is right for you.

Course Hero offers also offers tutoring help 24/7 to give you step-by-step help with your homework. Best of all, by sharing your experiences, homework and information with others, you can earn credits that give you free access to Course Hero’s online tutors!

About the Author

Brock Calderon is a recent college graduate with a BA in communications and a minor in English. He is fresh in his writing career and apart from writing he enjoys eating at a new restaurant weekly and exercising to burn off all those excess calories from all those restaurants. If he isn’t writing, eating, or exercising, he’s probably watching the most recent episode of whatever show is most popular at the time. Originally from Sacramento California, Brock now resides in Culver City.