One thing I noticed during my first weeks of college was how many study skills events were offered. While it’s great that those opportunities are available for those who need them, it’s better to enter college already knowing how to study well and manage your time.
Homeschoolers’ college advantage.
Homeschoolers have an advantage in college because they have to be self motivated in order to do well. However, adjusting to college is difficult for everyone. It’s better to spend your high school years developing a good work ethic so that you will have an easier time when you enter college.
Here are some habits that I (after much trial and error) developed in high school that have helped me both then and now.
Use your resources.
Get used to getting help from people with whom you aren’t one hundred percent comfortable. Instead of automatically running to a parent or older sibling when you don’t understand something, call a Seton counselor. I often would ask my mom for help with an assignment and she would tell me to call Seton.
I always got annoyed by that because I was kind of shy about calling. In retrospect, I am glad she did because it helped me learn how to pinpoint a specific question and then approach a teacher for help.
In college, it will be your responsibility to be aware of and utilize the resources offered to you. At some colleges, like mine, there are a ton of support services offered to students, but at other institutions, students need to be more proactive about discovering them. Take some time your first week to figure out where and to whom you can go if you need help.
Take notes (and use them!).
Homeschoolers are not as used to taking notes as public or private schooled students, but it is an invaluable skill for college learning. Fortunately, Seton offers ways to get some practice.
One thing I found especially helpful was listening to audio lectures and taking notes from them. Maybe try listening with a friend or sibling and then determine the important points together.
Or, take notes from your textbook after you complete a reading assignment. Even though I was homeschooled for all of high school, I adjusted to college note taking quickly because I had practiced.
Plan your assignments yourself.
In college, there will be no parent to remind you to do your work; instead, there will be professors who dock points off for late submissions. Giving yourself deadlines and keeping track of them using the planner that Seton provides is an excellent practice.
One thing that a fellow student of mine had difficulties with was adjusting from a homeschool daily lesson-plan schedule to a college homework schedule. Like everything else, it does take some getting used to, but, if you use the planner in high school, it’s really not all that different.
For example, in high school, you have a big project (a book analysis for example) and Seton provides you with little goals to complete the big project. Following those guidelines as they are written will really help you learn how to plan your work and tackle big tasks in a manageable way so that you don’t end up writing papers the night before they are due.
Learn how you learn.
Everyone learns differently and there is no one “right way” to approach studying. Especially for science, history, and religion courses, there are so many ways to review. Some people swear by flash cards, while others only use study guides. High school (or even earlier) is a great time to determine what methods work for you by experimenting with traditional study methods.
You might study one chapter of your science book by making an outline and another by making flash cards and then compare the two methods. Next, you could try note taking or listening to yourself read into a voice recorder.
Little details are also important. Can you study in silence or do you need calm background music? Do you need to stand up and move around every hour or do you need to get all your work done at once?
One caveat pertaining to that last one is class schedules. Coming from a homeschool environment in which I could completely plan my own schedule certainly helped me with time management skills, but it is sometimes difficult for me to have to go to class, when, in my mind, it would make more sense to just plow through assignments in another subject to get it done.
To rectify this to some extent, I have been relying on my planner to keep track of due dates so that I can prioritize my assignments. Then, I don’t always complete them in order of when they are due.
Sometimes, I really can’t read anymore and I need to work on my lab report. Other times, my brain starts melting from chemistry studying, so I go work on my English paper. As long as I plan that I can get an assignment done a reasonable amount of time before the due date, I allow myself that flexibility to avoid frustration and the poor quality work resulting from that.
It will be a tremendous help to enter college with well-developed study skills. That way, you can spend your precious time learning the course material, not how to study.
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