By Catherine Brown–

As first-year students transition into college, a lot of students have to learn how to get rid of old study habits from high school. 

Why do so many freshmen start off their first college semester on a low note?

The answer is simple: High school teachers generally don’t require the same level of attention to academics as college professors.

Valerie Strauss, a writer for The Washington Post, wrote that the reason first-year students often struggle upon transitioning into college is that they aren’t familiar with the importance of studying.

Strauss suggests that a big problem with first-year college students’ studying habits is that they don’t know how to approach studying correctly. Where a student might benefit from quizzing themself over the material or questioning the material they read, they might instead only read a chapter out of a textbook or skim through notes.

Another reason students might not utilize the strategies that they need to do well?

Inadequate feelings of “belonging” in college, according to Strauss.

She said that feeling outcast can be a tell that a student is struggling in their first year at college.

“Feeling out of place is usually triggered by a setback freshman year: the student fails a test, for example, or feels he doesn’t have any close friends. Any student would be discouraged, but a student who is the first in his family to attend college, or is a member of minority stereotyped as “not academic” may construe the experience as evidence he’s not college material.”

Geoff Bailey, Executive Director of U of L’s REACH and Testing Services, said that first-year students struggle with adjusting to college study habits for a multitude of reasons.

First, like most of us, first-year students have gotten into certain habits that may have worked in the past (or that they’re simply comfortable with even if they are not the most effective),” said Bailey.

“When they find that a study habit isn’t working as well for a particular class at UofL (e.g., they’re not understanding concepts thoroughly, they’re not earning test scores they want, or they’re having trouble retaining information and recalling it accurately for class or tests), students have to choose whether to keep trying the same approach or be open to new possibilities that will create less stress and improve performance.

“Second, students may know they need to try something different but aren’t necessarily sure where to begin. Third, students sometimes assume that if a strategy works for one class, it should work for all classes. However, the reality is that different courses require different levels of thinking and application.”

Poor study habits can contribute to poor academic performance. First-year students should establish good study habits when they enter college so that they can start their first semester successfully.

Freshmen Madison Oser and Emily Sutter have had differing experiences regarding their own study habits.

Oser, a music therapy major, said that her major doesn’t require her to change many of her study habits from high school. She said that most of the time she could study for tests by reading her notes before class or making flashcards.

On the other hand, Sutter, a social work major, said that her go-to study method is also using flashcards because she believes that it helps her to retain information. She also said that once she got to college, she had to learn to adapt to a fast-paced environment.

U of L offers many resources for students of all grade levels who want to improve their study skills. Bailey recommends that students utilize REACH’s offerings such as tutoring, the Hackademic Workshop series, and academic coaching.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal