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Healthy Study Habits for the New Year

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels

By Andrea Byrd (Mississippi Valley State University)

Student Career Journal is a series of articles written by HBCU students about college life, career activities and opportunities on their campus that encourage career development and building success habits.

Every student has experienced unhealthy study habits at one point or another. According to sociologist  Richard Arum, “45 percent of undergraduate students show little advancement in their ability to think critically, reason, or write well after their first two years of college”. This is often due to extracurricular activities, off-campus social life, and the overall frequency of campus events. However, it is also, in part, due to unhealthy study habits.

Even though having a healthy study plan can make or break the rest of a student’s college career, students struggle to break the cycle. This quick guide to relinquishing bad study habits could reshape the well-being of student’s academic record.

A designated study space is a MUST.  Having separate spaces for studying and for relaxing is a sure-fire way to stay focused on the task at hand. It is harder for students to mix leisure with purpose-driven studying– if there are designated spaces to do both. Due to the prevalence of technology, an article from stopad.io noted that “When students are distracted by their gadgets, they fail to hear and understand the information they’re supposed to.” Designated spaces for studying and doing schoolwork help to distinguish leisure from academics. It also helps further the distance between your electronics like a desktop computer and a smart phone while studying. While this doesn’t work for everyone, it is also good for studying to take place in spaces that aren’t overly cozy.

Take a break. While studying, students should be focused and devoted to the goal they are trying to accomplish. However, studies have shown that unhealthy study habits can contribute to student burnout. Specifically, studies say that “the average student can’t focus on a given task for more than two minutes without becoming distracted.” One solution to increase focus is to take periodic breaks from studying. Hanging out with friends or watching an episode of a favorite TV show is stimulating to the brain after the heaviness of continued college school work. A study break will act almost like a reward and evoke an increase in “dopamine levels (the neurochemical associated with pleasure and reward)” in the brain.

Less stress is best. Being a student can be a stressful responsibility. There is a lot of work that comes with college life. At the end of the semester, students often cram information for their final exams. This ultimately results in stress and increased anxiety for future tests with some professors seeing “students for the first time at a final exam”. The important message here is that students need to destress during a chaotic time. This will ensure that good habits are manifested help develop more effective ways to cultivate learning.

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