There never seems to be enough time in the day. From class, to lab, the parties….who has time for studying anymore. Time management tends to be one of the biggest challenges for college students, and if something has to be squeezed out of the schedule, often it is study time whether we realize it or not. Here are my Top 5 Tips to help squeeze studying in throughout the day while not giving up your other activities.
- KNOW YOURSELF FIRST: What works for you may not work for the next student. Do you have a type A or type B personality? Some students thrive in a structured environment while others prefer a less regimented one. Figure out which one of these best fits you, and you will save yourself from a great deal of stress. Are you the type of person that eats the food on your plate one at a time or maybe even go as far as eating all of your food first before drinking? Or maybe you are more like me and like to take a bite of everything altogether? It may seem like a trivial matter, but if you try changing up your preference you may not enjoy your meal as much. The same goes with studying. Believe it or not, if you are studying correctly, it is actually possible to enjoy yourself. If you do fit the structured personality type you will probably get a lot more out of separating pleasure from fun. The next few points may not pertain so much to you. Whereas if you are more like me you may be okay studying in the middle of your daily activities but you will likely need a bit of discipline to make sure to fit it in there. If you are one of those who are able to mix things up then consider these fun ways to incorporate studying into your daily activity.
- WHILE AT THE GYM: This is an excellent time to listen to a lecture while running on the treadmill. I occasionally found it helpful to make audio recordings of myself reading questions or a book, particularly for classes that required memorization. I made these recordings very unique, emphasizing areas I had troubles with or felt were important for the test. You can throw in some mnemonics in there or even talk over some work-out music. I saved these recordings as MP3 files and downloaded them to my cell phone (or actually more like my mp3 player if not a CD or Walkman back in the day). The gym is also a good place for flash cards. Taking a buddy with you who asks questions and running laps for missed questions may serve as reinforcement tool. Finally, for those of you who love basketball like I do, going over a couple of notes in between those rec center pick up games is a great idea.
- STUDY WHILE YOU WORK: Many premedical students take up a job but this can become a huge distraction. I strongly recommend that you choose a job that offers you a quiet environment allowing you to study. I always felt the ideal job would be working in the library. This fosters a quiet environment surrounded by other students who are studying and gives you access to tons of books and resources. Running into other students from your class may strike up beneficial conversations on helpful books and notes. It is much better to have one of these jobs than one you are rushing to leave so you can get home on time to study.
- STUDY ON THE GO: A road trip is another great time to pop in an audio recording and indulge in passive learning. In med school I often drove to my parent’s place for the weekend after a block was over. After enjoying the weekend I had to get my game face back on. On the way back to my place I found it helpful listening to a review audio disc from Kaplan or Goljan audio lectures (here are some examples of his lectures https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=e9df89812802ec5c&id=E9DF89812802EC5C%21251). This was a great overview of what I was about to learn.
- PACK WELL: You never know what road blocks lay ahead in your day. How horrible it is to miss your bus/train, be stuck in an extremely long line, or waiting for a friend who is late. Time is extremely valuable and it seems to become more and more valuable as you progress through college into medical school. It doesn’t hurt to carry a study book or flash cards with you. Consider carrying a long term study book in your car at all times. Maybe a MCAT study book for premed students. For med students you should always keep in handy the First Aid book. It should fix you right up. I always had a book-bag on me most places I went.
Unfortunately, I haven’t yet thought of any tips for studying while at a party, club or asleep (believe me the book under the pillow/ osmosis trick doesn’t work). That would be pretty strange anyway to say the least. You are on your own there. In conclusion, sneaking in study opportunities can be advantageous but it is important to still have a good balance in your life. Do not make the mistake of neglecting important people or areas in your life. Make time for worship, eat well, practice good hygiene, and please don’t forget to call your mom.