15 Study Habits to Develop Before Starting College

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female high school student looking at the camera

15 Study Habits to Develop Before Starting College

Cultivating the right study habits to develop before starting college can significantly impact your overall college experience. As you begin this new chapter, preparing yourself academically is as important as selecting your courses or decorating your dorm room.

By preparing in advance, you can manage the challenges of college with confidence and ease. This blog explores 15 essential study habits to develop before starting college, offering a guide to survive and thrive in your academic endeavors.

The 15 Study Habits to Develop Before Starting College

Starting your college journey opens the door to new challenges and learning opportunities. To harness these experiences fully, developing effective study habits is key. Here are 15 essential practices to adopt before you start your college education.

Students working on his desk while writing,

1. Create a Study Schedule

Crafting a study schedule is essential. It sets a firm commitment to your studies. When plotting your timetable, consider when you work best—morning or night—and plan your study periods accordingly. Be honest about how much time you can dedicate, considering other activities and downtime.

Your schedule should be flexible to adapt to unforeseen changes or tough subjects needing more time. Regular reviews and adjustments will keep it effective. This strategy promotes a consistent study routine, which is crucial for staying on track with your coursework.

2. Set Clear Goals

For each study session, set specific goals using the SMART framework—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Instead of a broad goal like “study chemistry,” aim for “understand alkanes reactions by Thursday.”

This approach makes your progress easier to track and keeps goals within reach, preventing frustration. Your goals should directly support your wider academic aims and fit within a realistic timeframe. This focus boosts motivation and breaks down your syllabus into manageable tasks.

3. Develop a Note-Taking Strategy

Good note-taking actively involves you with the material. The Cornell method helps you digest information during and after lectures. For those who prefer visual aids, mapping shows how concepts connect, while outlining suits linear information best.

Try different methods to find the one that most improves your understanding and memory. A solid note-taking approach makes studying more effective, aiding comprehension and retention.

4. Find Your Ideal Study Environment

Your study environment significantly impacts focus and productivity. Choose a place that limits distractions and increases comfort. Depending on what works for you, this could be a quiet room at home, a library spot, or a café.

Ensure the space is well-lit, comfortable, and has the necessary resources like power and internet. A personalized study area enhances efficiency and mentally prepares you for learning.

5. Use Technology Wisely

Technology, when used correctly, can greatly support your studies. Apps like Evernote and Google Calendar help organize materials and schedules, while Quizlet and Anki are great for reinforcing concepts.

Technology can also enable group studies remotely. However, beware of digital distractions. Use website blockers or set your phone to avoid interruptions during study time. Properly used, technology is a valuable asset in organizing, understanding, and memorizing study materials.

6. Practice Active Learning

Active learning is essential among the study habits to develop before starting college. It means actively engaging with your study material rather than passively reading or listening. Summarize key points in your own words to reinforce memory.

Teaching the material to someone else can also solidify your knowledge by identifying gaps in understanding. Applying concepts to real-life scenarios, like using economic principles to analyze local community issues, enhances and retains understanding more effectively.

7. Take Regular Breaks

Regular breaks during study sessions are crucial to prevent burnout and maintain productivity. The Pomodoro Technique suggests studying for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. This method helps keep your mind fresh and focused.

After four rounds, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. Integrating regular breaks into your study routine is a vital study habit to develop before starting college, as it can significantly improve concentration and efficiency.

8. Stay Organized

Being organized is fundamental for effective studying. Organized study space and schedule can lower stress and make studying more efficient. Organize your materials in a way that suits you, and use planners or digital tools to track your study schedule and deadlines.

Keeping everything in order lets you focus on learning rather than fretting over missed deadlines or misplaced notes, marking it as an essential study habit to develop before starting college.

9. Embrace Group Study

Group study is a powerful tool for deepening understanding and making studying a more social activity. It allows you to gain different viewpoints and support from peers. For productive sessions, set goals, choose focused members, and minimize distractions.

Group study enhances learning and builds a supportive academic community, making it a beneficial study habit to develop before starting college.

a group of students enjoying social life

10. Utilize Campus Resources

Using campus resources effectively is among the critical study habits to develop before starting college, as these institutions offer resources like tutoring centers, libraries, and office hours to facilitate your academic success.

These services provide personalized support, access to extensive research materials, and direct feedback from instructors. Leveraging these resources can boost your academic performance and help you engage more deeply with your college community.

11. Master Time Management

Effective time management balances study, activities, and personal time. Prioritize tasks and set clear goals. Use calendars or apps to organize your schedule, breaking down large projects into smaller steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Fight procrastination by starting tasks immediately, especially if they take less than two minutes. Being selective about commitments helps maintain focus on what’s important, allowing for better academic and personal life balance.

12. Seek Feedback

Feedback is vital for improvement. It offers perspectives that can highlight both strengths and areas needing work. Engage with professors and peers to gain insights into your performance. Keep an open mind when receiving feedback; it’s a chance to learn, not a judgment. Use it to enhance your study methods and deepen your understanding of subjects.

13. Focus on Health

Health directly affects study effectiveness. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep nightly for optimal brain function. Eat balanced meals and stay hydrated to fuel both body and mind.

Regular exercise boosts mood and cognition. Incorporate activities you enjoy, even simple ones like walking or stretching, to support overall well-being and academic performance.

14. Adapt and Reflect

Continuously evaluate and adjust your study habits. What works one semester may need changes the next. Reflect on your strategies, recognizing successes and identifying areas for growth.

Be open to trying new methods and adjusting your approach based on effectiveness. Reflecting on your academic progress helps tailor study habits for continuous improvement.

15. Develop a Growth Mindset

View challenges as learning opportunities. A growth mindset encourages resilience and a proactive attitude toward learning. Use setbacks as feedback, focusing on the lessons they provide. Appreciate the effort and progress, not just achievements.

This mindset fosters curiosity and a love for learning, enhancing personal and intellectual development during college.

How can I develop my study habits?

Developing effective study habits is crucial for college success. This process is personal and starts by understanding how you learn best. Here’s how to develop study habits that work for you:

Two students attending an online class.

Understanding Your Learning Style

To develop your study habits, first, figure out your learning style:

  • Visual learners like to see information through charts and diagrams.
  • Auditory learners learn best by listening to lectures or discussions.
  • Kinesthetic learners prefer doing things like experiments or practical exercises.

Knowing how you learn helps you study more efficiently. For example, visual learners can make flashcards, auditory learners can record notes to listen back to, and kinesthetic learners can engage in hands-on activities.

Making Study a Routine

Integrating study habits into your daily life is key:

  • Choose a study time: Pick when you’re most alert and stick to it every day.
  • Have a study spot: Create a quiet, comfortable place just for studying.
  • Plan what to study: Decide what you’ll study in each session and track your tasks with a planner or app.
  • Be flexible: Your study needs will change over time. Be ready to adjust your schedule and methods accordingly.

Evolving Your Study Habits

Your study habits should grow with you:

  • Review and adjust regularly: Reflect on what’s working and what’s not. Be open to trying new strategies.
  • Ask for feedback: Teachers and peers can offer insights to improve your study habits.
  • Explore new learning: Look for additional learning opportunities beyond the classroom, like online courses or study groups.

By identifying your learning style, making study a consistent part of your day, and being willing to adapt your approach, you can establish strong study habits before starting college. Aim for a study routine that is both effective and sustainable, setting you up for success in college and beyond.

Why develop good study habits?

Good study habits are essential for more than just taking tests; they prepare you for success in college and beyond. Let’s break down why it’s crucial to focus on study habits to develop before starting college.

Better Time Management

Good study habits teach you to use your time wisely, balancing studies, social life, and work. This skill helps you avoid last-minute cram sessions, making studying more effective and less stressful.

Lower Stress

By organizing your study time and breaking down material into manageable parts, you reduce the stress often felt before exams and deadlines. Knowing you’re prepared brings peace of mind, which is better for your health and well-being.

Improved Grades

Regular, focused study sessions lead to a deeper understanding of your subjects. This results in higher grades and helps you perform better on exams thanks to improved retention and recall.

Valuable Life Skills

The skills gained from good study habits—like critical thinking and problem-solving—are in high demand in the workplace. These habits also teach you to be independent, motivated, and disciplined, qualities employers value.

Two students talking in a room full of glass.

Readiness for the Professional World

The discipline and perseverance needed to maintain good study habits are key for facing challenges in any career. These habits also foster a sense of responsibility and self-motivation, making you a more attractive candidate.

Encouragement of Lifelong Learning

Adopting good study habits early on fosters a love for learning that will last a lifetime. This mindset keeps you adaptable and competitive, always ready to learn new things and take on new challenges.

Focusing on study habits to develop before starting college sets you up for a rewarding journey through college and into your career. It’s not just about getting good grades; it’s about building a foundation for lifelong success and growth.

Overcoming Common Study Habit Challenges

As you gear up for college, facing obstacles like procrastination, distractions, and feeling swamped is normal. To conquer these issues, pinpoint what sets them off and find ways to lessen their impact.

Breaking down your study tasks into smaller, achievable goals can address procrastination. Meanwhile, creating a quiet, focused study space can reduce distractions.

Identifying Triggers and Solutions

Procrastination often comes from not feeling motivated, fearing failure, or not knowing how to start. Tackling this involves splitting your study tasks into smaller sections. Instead of planning to study for hours, aim to finish one chapter or a certain number of problems in a specific period. This makes your tasks feel less overwhelming and easier to accomplish.

Distractions can come from many places, like social media, noise, or even your thoughts. Figure out what pulls your focus away. If it’s your phone or the internet, try blocking distracting sites during study times or turning your phone off. If noise is a problem, look for quiet places to study, like a library or a quiet room at home.

Feeling overwhelmed is common when juggling studies, assignments, and other activities. Creating a detailed study schedule with breaks and fun activities can help manage this. Use planners or apps to keep track of everything you need to do, prioritizing tasks by urgency.

Implementing Effective Strategies

Here are some strategies to help you study better:

  • Set Clear Goals: Define your aim in each study session. Make sure your goals are clear and manageable. This approach can significantly cut down procrastination by giving you a clear target.
  • Establish a Routine: Studying at the same time and place can help your brain get ready to focus, making it easier to start studying.
  • Create a Good Study Environment: Make sure your study space is conducive to focusing. It should be well-lit, comfortable, and tidy. Keep things around that motivate you but don’t distract you.
  • Manage Your Time Well: The Pomodoro Technique, where you study for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break, can improve focus and prevent burnout. It helps you use your time efficiently while keeping you refreshed.
  • Ask for Help When Needed: If you’re struggling, reach out for support. This could be joining study groups, getting tutoring, or talking to professors. Getting help can offer new insights and solutions.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Meditating, yoga, or taking short walks can lower stress and improve focus. Adding these activities to your daily routine can boost your overall well-being and study effectiveness.
  • Reflect and Adjust: Regularly check how well your study habits are working. Be open to trying new methods if the current ones aren’t helping. Being flexible and willing to adjust is crucial for overcoming challenges and succeeding.

By tackling common issues in developing study habits before starting college, you can make your study sessions more productive, reduce stress, and enjoy learning. The aim is to build good study habits, find joy in learning, and live a balanced, fulfilling college life.

Measuring Your Study Habit Success

Measuring the success of your study habits is crucial for academic improvement. This involves more than just looking at grades; it’s about assessing how your study techniques impact your learning and knowledge application. Here’s a simplified approach to evaluating your study habits to develop before starting college:

Establish Baseline Metrics

Start by setting clear benchmarks, such as study time, chapters reviewed, or assignment grades. These initial metrics serve as a reference to gauge progress and identify areas needing change.


Regular self-reflection is key. Ask yourself: Are my study sessions more productive? Do I understand the material better? Can I recall information more easily? Answering these questions helps pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of your study habits.

Feedback Utilization

Feedback from teachers and classmates is critical. It provides outside views on your progress and insights into overlooked areas. If feedback points to consistent issues, it’s a sign to adjust your study methods.

Goal Setting and Achievement

Create specific short-term and long-term goals as success markers. Meeting these goals indicates effective study habits. Falling short suggests it’s time to revisit and tweak your study approach.

a student getting tips for ACT Test

Reflective Journals

A reflective journal can track your study experiences, what works, what doesn’t, and your feelings. It offers a detailed view of your study habit effectiveness over time and motivates ongoing improvement.

Celebrating Milestones

Acknowledge every achievement, big or small. Celebrating these moments boosts motivation and reinforces positive study habits.

Continuous Improvement

Evaluating your study habits is an ongoing process. Academic and personal growth demands that your study strategies evolve. Always look for ways to refine your approach, integrating new methods that enhance your study efficiency.

Adopt a lifelong learning attitude, recognizing each effort to improve your study habits as a step toward greater academic success.


As you embark on your college journey, remember that the key to academic success lies in the study habits you develop before starting college. These habits will aid your immediate academic achievements and equip you with the skills necessary for lifelong learning and success.

Start implementing these habits today, and watch how they transform your college experience and beyond.



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