What is Self Study and How To Do It Successfully

November 10, 2021
By AdmissionSight

What is Self Study and How To Do It Successfully

In a traditional teaching environment, students are instructed by teachers who are responsible for developing curriculum, preparing lesson plans, engaging students, and imparting knowledge to their classes. Although this has been the norm for centuries, self-study has always been an integral component of a student’s learning process.

Homework, tests, projects, and other tasks that required learning out of the classroom context required students to learn on their own. Now, with technology on the rise and online learning becoming more common, there’s a larger emphasis being placed on self-study as students are more responsible for their academic development.

Studying man in a room full of books.

Self-studying has never been easier than today with a wealth of information just a few clicks away. But just like any skill, self-studying requires some practice to master. High school is the perfect time to develop this ability as you’ll need it in college when you’re in charge of your learning.

Here, we’re going to take a closer look at self-studying, what it is, why it’s important, and how students can develop this crucial skill.

What is self-studying?

Self-studying is the process of teaching yourself. It’s where students direct their own learning instead of a teacher. This is in contrast to the conventional model of classroom teaching where instructors lead the lessons.

Everyone has engaged in self-studying in the past whenever you relearned something after a lesson, reviewed for a test, or prepared for a standardized test. Anytime you’ve taken learning into your own hands even if just for a short period of time, you already have experience with self-learning.

It’s important to note that self-study isn’t restricted to classroom material. You’ve directed your own learning when it comes to your favorite hobbies. Whether you’ve learned how to play an instrument, speak another language, or make certain pieces of art, you had to study on your own to develop those skills.

Why is self-studying important?

Self-study is one of the most important skills high schoolers can develop. First and foremost, it’s going to help you improve your performance in high school classes. This is especially true for students taking tougher classes such as AP or honors courses which require a lot of studying outside of the classroom to ensure you understand the material completely.

Self-learning will help you get higher grades on your homework and exams which will boost your overall GPA. Colleges take your high school GPA into consideration when determining whether or not you’re a suitable candidate for the incoming freshman class. In fact, colleges look at your freshman year performance, highlighting the importance of self-study early on in high school.

Female student studying in a wooden table using a laptop.

Beyond your classroom performance, self-study is important to boost your performance on exams that occur outside of the standard class setting such as AP exams and the SAT and ACT. Even though your teachers might dedicate some time to preparing for these important tests, you’ll need to do some preparation on your own, requiring you to engage in self-study.

The importance of self-study isn’t restricted to high school. In fact, one of the most important reasons to develop this skill in high school is because you’ll rely on it heavily in college. One of the biggest differences between high school and college is the amount of responsibility you have when it comes to your academics.

Teachers in college won’t prompt you as much as your instructors in high school to get your work done or to stay on top of the material. And your parents won’t be around to keep you on track either. If you’ve perfected your self-study in high school, you’ll have no trouble learning on your own in college.

Self-learning requires a lot of commitment, discipline, and perseverance. When you’re in a classroom setting, you’re in the same boat as dozens of other students with an instructor taking the lead. All you really have to do is pay attention.

When self-learning, you’re assuming the role of instructor too which brings with it a whole other set of responsibilities. You also don’t have anyone there to make sure you’re paying attention. Once mastered, self-study is the perfect tool in your arsenal of learning techniques.

10 Tips for Mastering Self-Study

Set achievable goals.

Setting work goals for yourself, ones that really fit in with your life and other commitments, is important when creating self-study habits. You can set yourself up for success by assigning only a certain number of chapters to read each night, adjusting your workload according to how hectic your schedule is in any given week, and giving yourself a mental break each week to let your mind rest.

Learn what works for you.

Learning isn’t a unidimensional process.

There are many different ways to learn, and it is important to adjust studying techniques to find what works for your brain. Some students find reading aloud helpful, others like taking handwritten notes rather than typing. Discover whatever works best for you, and stick with it.

Don’t wait to review.

After taking notes in an online course, or reading the next chapter in your textbook, make sure you review all the new material, by typing up your notes, practicing your new skill, or reading over a chapter again, to help it resonate. While this may seem tedious, it only takes a short amount of time. Reviewing can help with the long-term absorption of material, so it decreases the need for cramming in the future.

Keep your study sessions short.

Instead of treating your study session like a marathon, break up your material by topic into a series of short sessions, separated by short breaks. That way, you won’t be staring at your books or computer for too long while wearing your focus, and your brain can absorb the material more easily.

While cramming may seem like a great way to cover a lot of material in a condensed amount of time, studying in short, frequent sessions is a more effective way to learn subject matter and self-study.

Maintain a consistent study space.

When learning remotely it is important to create a study space for yourself. By setting aside a desk or table that is a designated environment for self-studying or completing an online course, you will know to be mentally prepared to learn when you enter that space.

Get enough sleep and nutrients.

Effective learning isn’t just about adopting productive study techniques. It also has a lot to do with your overall health. When you’re well-rested and satiated, you’re more likely to retain information and recall it more easily. Unfortunately, college is usually a time when student struggle to keep up with sleep and maintain a healthy diet.

In order to optimize your self-study sessions, it’s important to focus on these health factors. There’s no question you’ll start to see and feel results after just a few weeks of keeping up with your sleep and nutrition. By the same token, you’ll notice a big decline in your focusing and memory functionalities after allowing these factors to fall by the wayside.

Use self-testing techniques.

So much of self-study is simply replicating what’s going on in the classroom on your own. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but it’s still an important thing to acknowledge. How do teachers test a class’s knowledge of a subject after studying? By taking an exam, of course!

This highly effective technique makes it easier for instructors to determine what information students know well and which areas can be improved upon. By retargeting these weak points, teachers are able to create effective and well-rounded lesson plans. The same is true for self-studying.

Student opening a book on a table.

Applying some self-testing techniques is a great way to test what you know and identify areas that could use some work. You can quiz yourself by answering questions about the material, writing down or recording an answer without checking your notes or books, and then comparing your answer with the correct one. Depending on the subject you’re studying, you might even be able to find test examples online.

Use notes from class.

Just because you’re studying on your own doesn’t mean you can’t use resources from the standard learning environment. In fact, it would be a waste not to! After all, the self-studying you do in college will revolve around what you’re studying in class. As a result, the notes you take in class are one of the best resources you can use to self-study.

These notes will tell you exactly what you should know when it comes to acing your homework and nailing your exams. However, the quality of your self-studying will depend heavily on the quality of your notes. So make sure you’re paying attention, remaining engaged, taking excellent notes, and asking questions when something is confusing.

Taking notes won’t only come in handy when self-studying down the line, but your mind will also be encoding what you’re writing. Several studies have proven just how effective note taking is when trying to commit something to memory.

Don’t sweat small breaks or distractions.

Some students put too much pressure on themselves to remain focused for hours on end when studying. Not only is this nearly impossible, but it can also impact the quality of your studying. That’s right! Taking breaks is actually proven to improve your memorization by giving your mind some time to digest the information.

When you take a break, your mind will continue working on the information subconsciously. So whether you hit the gym, go for a walk, or catch up on your favorite TV show, your mind will still be working. Pretty cool, huh? Just be sure to keep those breaks between 15 and 30 minutes short. If you wait too long, you might not ever make it back to studying. Short and sweet is the key here.

Get better at learning.

So far, we’ve looked at ways you can make the most of your current learning capabilities. However, there’s a way you can actually increase your brain’s ability to learn. Processing speed, recall accuracy, retention, memory, and attention all influence your learning capacity. Since all of these faculties can be improved, so can your learning.

There’s a whole science behind the development of learning abilities so we won’t go into it in this article. But simply Googling “how to get better at learning” will provide you with countless, effective ways you can get better at acquiring, retaining, and recalling information. This will drastically improve your self-studying.

The Advantages of Self-Studying

Phew. Self-studying doesn’t sound too easy, huh? Well, like anything in school, you get out what you put in. The more you practice self-studying, the better you’ll get. This will lead to improved grades, higher test scores, and a better college experience overall. To help motivate you to flex your self-study muscles, let’s explore some of the advantages of this practice.

You’ll learn more effectively.

Learning is an indispensable part of attending college. Even the brightest students will be challenged at this stage of their education, requiring some studying outside of the classroom. Self-studiers develop an improved ability to memorize and recall information. Learning on your own and in class becomes easier as your brain is primed to acquire new things.

You’ll become more confident.

Many students feel stressed and anxious when approaching college-level material. It’s more challenging than high school material and often requires more out-of-class practice. When you self-study, you’ll see your confidence steadily improving.

Smiling student while writing in his notebook.

Not only will you become more well-versed in the subject matter of your courses, but you’ll also get better at learning overall. This boosted confidence can help alleviate some stress in college.

You’ll unlock a passion for learning.

Self-studying gives you the power to learn new things effectively out of the classroom. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, speak Spanish, or cook French cuisine, self-studying can give you the tools you need to develop these skills on your own instead of having to rely on the traditional classroom setting. Soon, you’ll find yourself falling in love with the process of learning itself. That’s when things get really easy!

Self-Studying: A Crucial Skill for College

Self-studying is an essential skill high schoolers should harness to improve their academic performance. It can improve your learning experience both in and outside the classroom as you’ll enhance your acquisition, retention, and recollection of information without having to depend on others to prompt you.

Whether you’re utilizing self-study to prepare for standardized tests, AP exams, or normal coursework, you’ll find the process becoming easier and easier the more you do it. You’ll find strategies that are most effective for your learning style and what practices aren’t so impactful. You can even apply these self-study habits to new subjects or material that piques your interest.

Studying in front of a laptop while writing.

By the time college rolls around, you’ll have the discipline, techniques, and experience needed to master your self-study sessions. This skill is crucial in college as your parents and teachers won’t be around to remind you to study or to hold your hand through the process. You have more responsibility in college, which is where your self-study techniques will come in handy.

You’ll have to explore new subjects through your courses, figure out the best way to study on your own time, and improve your understanding of the material to succeed in the class. High school is the best time to develop these skills since the material isn’t as rigorous as in college, and you have a robust support system there to help during this process of self-learning.

Improve Your Chances of Getting Into the School of Your Choice

What if somebody told you there are experts in the college admissions process who can help you drastically increase your chances of getting into the school of your choice? You probably wouldn’t believe them, right? Unfortunately, most students don’t know that these experts actually exist.

A college admissions professional specializes in helping high schoolers navigate the college application process. AdmissionSight (that’s us!) is a leading college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students get into the school of their choice.

In fact, we have a proven track record of success with over 75% of the students we work with getting into an Ivy League school or Top 10 university. Our services are specially designed to help students better understand the college admission process for their school and improve their applications to catch the attention of admissions officers.

Whether you need some guidance picking your high school classes or extracurricular activities, we’ve got you covered! What about SAT and ACT preparation? Yes, we’ve got your back there too! And what’s with college interviews? We’ll even help you prepare for those too!

If you’re interested in learning more about our services and why they can help you get accepted into your number-one school, contact us for a free consultation.

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