You’ve made it all the way to graduate school! Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back. There’s only one problem: your study habits. For anyone who has not managed to get into a good routine when it comes to studying, now is the time to create a plan of action. Graduate school is rigorous. Many students hit a wall when they come to the end game in their education. Don’t let bad habits continue for the home stretch. Get on track from the very beginning.
The first step to having good study habits is to follow the Boy Scout motto and be prepared. Make sure you have all of your materials before classes begin. Line up your textbooks, whether they are hard copy or e-readers. Have plenty of notebooks, paper, folders, and pens on hand. If you don’t have a computer, now is the time to make that investment. There are good bargains on laptops and home computers. When it is time to head off to class, double check that you have everything you need before you leave home or the dorm. If you are doing your studies online, follow the same policy.
Keep all of your materials together for each class. Use folders with labels, note cards, paper clips, and highlighters. Anything that can help you keep it together is a plus. Being organized also means setting up a schedule for yourself. Look at when your classes are and when your assignments are due. Create a system. If you have a certain class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, plan on getting the work done for that class on alternate days and weekends. Create blocks of time in your day that will be devoted to your studies. If you are working and studying, yet know that you have time in the evening or early hours of the day, use that time wisely.
Get rid of distractions.
You need to have complete focus to get the job done. Find yourself a place to do your work where nothing else will get in the way. Turn off the television and the radio. Close your door and hang a sign that says, “Do not disturb.” If it is not possible to get any peace and quiet where you live, seek an alternative location. The campus library or public library is an excellent place to work quietly. Many libraries, especially at a college, have small, separate rooms that are devoted to studying. Make good use of them. If you have a studious classmate that takes graduate school seriously, you might have a competent partner to keep you on the straight and narrow when it comes to good studying habits.
Do not procrastinate.
Don’t put off your assignments. The last thing you need is rushed, sloppy work in graduate school. This isn’t high school. Your professors are going to get paid whether you do your job or not. They aren’t going to ask you to clean up your work and there might not be any second chances. Pay attention to your course outline and give yourself plenty of time to complete your papers, projects, and study for tests.
Keep your eye on the prize.
Remember why you are doing this. You plan on applying what you have learned to real life. Your end goal should be a good job that is satisfying and rewarding. Don’t waste a minute of your time in graduate school. The end is in sight after many years of schooling. Work hard, be persistent, and you’ll finally cross the finish line.