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Need some advice on how to be successful in college

  1. Sep 26, 2009 #1
    I am currently a sophmore electrical engineering major. It is very important to me that I both learn the material that is being presented and to get good grades. I know that to do these things one must study and study hard. However, I find that there are only a few times during the day during which I can actually study effectively. That is, i've found that if I try to study more than my brain "wants" to, I end confusing myself and un-learning the concepts. The maximum number of hours I can study/do homework before this "confusion" kicks in and my mind starts to wander is about three to four hours. Can anyone on this forum who has been successful in school, and I know there are many of you, describe their study patterns while in college? How much did you study? Did you study in spurts or for long stretches? This is very important to me because I am trying to develop an optimal study schedule that I can use for many years to come but I cant seem to create one. Thank you very much and any additional tips/advice for a motivated student will be appreciated.
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  3. Sep 27, 2009 #2
    I don't know about other people, but I try to find enthusiasm for the subject despite not enjoying it sometimes. Some subjects are easier to have a passion for, like you would probably rather take an EE class than music appreciation, but realizing that it is an opportunity more than a chore not only makes me want to study, but I can grasp concepts easier.

    I work during the day so my schedule may not offer much help, but I have a couple hours in between class and a few more at night where I can study. My total time ranges from eight hour days of solid studying, to other days of dividing two hours between three subjects.

    I consider location a big factor for me, also. I usually cannot be near a computer because I will become distracted. I consider a big, open table at a library very soothing. I don't listen to music unless I am doing math problems, and if a concept takes to long for me to grasp, I will move on and a new angle of viewing it will hit me.

    But every person is different, so I suggest you try out different methods until you find your own. Study time is different than study quality, and I have had moments where ten minutes of thinking about a concept while working helps out more than reading about it for an hour.
  4. Sep 27, 2009 #3


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    Do you take mini-breaks within those 3-4 hour stretches of studying? I usually take a 10 minute break or so after an hour of studying, which refreshes my mind for another hour. For me, that maximizes my full capacity for learning. I can't imagine myself doing it for 3-4 hours straight without taking any kind of breaks whatsoever.
  5. Sep 27, 2009 #4
    I am a senior mechanical engineer and I have been taking mostly advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses for about a year now. I rarely ever "study" one subject for more than an hour or so at a time. My homework usually takes much longer than an hour but I have found it is much more effective for me to spread out my studying. For example I wake up early and read the sections that I will be covering in class that day. Than I go to class and take notes and ask questions. Than that evening I spend some time reviewing what I learned. Every so often I go back and do a short review if I cant recall something. This pattern plus the homework and reviewing the material around test time is usually enough for me so by the time the test rolls around I actually understand the material very well and it is generally not worth it to spend hours doing practice problems. This also lets me keep a regular sleep schedule so I dont fall asleep during my classes and I dont have to stay up really late studying around test time which just makes me tired so I do poorly anyways.
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