Study at the right time for college success


If you’re one of the rare breed who gets great grades without studying, you’re either very gifted or you’re attending a school that’s too easy for you. But for us “regular” people, studying is a key ingredient in college success. Good study habits have an obvious impact on grades, but also affect how much free time you have to enjoy the non-academic side of college. Effective studying will make a major difference in the quality of job you end up with after graduation.

An important piece of the puzzle is when to study. Let’s start with when not to study. Studying all night is never the right choice. College is probably the only environment where it is accepted, even trendy, to stay up all night when trying to get something important done. When the sales executive has a big client meeting the next day, does she stay up all night to prepare? Of course not. Star athletes don’t stay up all night before big competitions. People need sleep, even college students. It’s just not productive to trade sleep for study time.

So if not at 4 a.m. then when should you study? Many students squander perhaps the best time to study: between classes. Instead of tromping back and forth to the dorm or just hanging out between classes, try visiting the library for some high-productivity midday studying. Squeezing in a few hours of distraction-free studying during the day will significantly lighten the load for evenings, and will totally eliminate the need for all-nighters.

Whether you study during the day or evening is also a matter of personal body chemistry. You should study when you are most alert. If you’re consistently wide awake at 6 a.m., take advantage of it. If you’re a natural night owl, then study at night. In any case, make studying a commitment: block out time in your planner for studying and stick to your schedule. This is most important around mid-terms or finals, but it’s a great strategy to use all semester.

To achieve college success, it’s not a question of if you’ll study, it’s simply a question of when.

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