Students who are seeking help are not primarily interested in theory, and most of them have little patience with merely inspirational talk. They want practical instruction on how to succeed academically. They want something that they can readily understand and apply and that works. After a week of classes, they discover that the hit-or-miss tactics that got them through high school are grossly inadequate and inefficient at the competitive college level. So they turn to us for help.
Let’s then teach these students proven techniques for studying and learning. How to Study in College is brimming with exciting techniques, based on widely tested educational and learning theory, that have already helped myriad students. But the tail of theory is never allowed to wag the practical, feet-on-the-ground dog.
While theory is always implicit and is sometimes given in enough detail to explain the rationale behind a particular technique or reassure the skeptic, it is never presented without explicit applications and never used simply as exhortation. After all, the person who needs penicillin is hardly cured by learning the history of antibiotics!
Because it is so crucial that students learn for the long term, we are wholeheartedly against techniques that stress mere memorization. Such techniques fill the mind with “knowledge” that melts away after a test and leaves learning still to be done. The techniques presented in this book result in real learning. And real learning, like a real diamond, lasts.
Finally, no textbook—no matter how complete or current—is truly useful if it is boring, confusing, or excessively difficult to read. We have worked hard to keep this book well organized and clear, maintaining a conversational tone so that reading it is like having a sincere, person-to-person chat.
Part 1 Building a Foundation
Start with fundamental skills that help to put you on firm academic footing.
1 Goal-Setting: Know What You’re Aiming For
2 Organization: Use Your Time and Space Effectively
3 Concentration: Stay Focused
4 Stress Management Learn How to Handle Pressure
Part 2 Gaining Information
Pinpoint and understand the most valuable information in your courses.
5 Comprehension: Read Smarter
6 Vocabulary: Extend Your Word Frontier
7 Critical Thinking: Use Questions to Zero In on Valuable Information
8 Flexible Thinking: Learn Through Multiple Channels
Part 3 Retaining Information
Once you’ve acquired information, it’s no use if you can’t find a way to hold onto it.
9 Remembering: Fight Back Against Forgetting
10 The Cornell System: Take Effective Notes
11 Mastery: Turn Your Notes into Knowledge
Part 4 Explaining Information
To demonstrate your level of learning, you need to “show what you know.”
12 Tests and Quizzes: Ace Your Exams
13 Class Participation: Get the Most out of Discussions
14 Written Assignments: Turn in a Solid Research Paper
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