Studying STEM is a great opportunity, although it doesn’t come easy. It might even seem overwhelming, especially for freshers. If you feel like it is impossible to succeed in every discipline, do not worry. You can do it; all you need is some management and conscious approach to the educational process.
Overall, the tips on being a successful technology student can be divided into three categories – lifestyle, time management, and specific study techniques. And it all comes with benefiting from all types of study help material and platforms, such as Google Scholar, Studyfy platform and Science journals (Nature, Science, or International Journal of Environmental Research), etc. It is not about the time spent, but rather about the effective practices that provide excellent results.
The Lifestyle of a Technology Student
- Get enough sleep
It is quite a basic tip, but many students still disregard it. Recent research shows that there is a direct correlation between sleeping habits and grades in college. So it is better to get a good night’s sleep before an important exam than to pull an all-nighter. It is also important to have a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to bed at approximately the same time every night and wake up accordingly. It will endorse the cognitive functions of the brain, including memory.
- Eat well
It is not a secret that a healthy diet is linked to better academic performance among students. The reason is simple – as long as your body is healthy, your mind also performs at its best. You need to establish a well-balanced diet with lots of vitamins that boost memory and cognitive functions. Also, eat regularly and take healthy snacks with you (apple, banana, or granola bar).
It is also a scientifically proven concept – regular physical activity helps to study better. It doesn’t have to take much – you can practice yoga or cardio exercises at home, go for a run or a walk. Another great way is to bike or walk to classes instead of driving or commuting. Physical exercise will help you master that tech degree.
- Set goals
The best way to stay motivated is to know what you are aiming for. Set goals for a year, semester, and a week. Write them down and place them somewhere you can see. It will help to concentrate on what is important.
- Make a study schedule
You can use any digital calendar that has a reminder and deadline features. Put all the classes and assignments in with the finishing date. Plan the study sessions and start earlier. Do not study in one long session, better divide it into several days as recalling helps to memorize.
- Make a to-do list and prioritize tasks
It is actually the best way to achieve more – write every task down. Create a comprehensive list for each day so you don’t forget anything. There are two important factors here. First of all, prioritize the tasks, put the urgent and most important ones on top, and start with them.
The second factor is to be realistic with your list. There is only so much you can do without being exhausted. You’ll need time to relax too, so do not plan a day for 20 hours of work, it won’t be productive.
- Create checklists for written assignments
Write down all the necessary steps like research, planning the structure, finding sources and citations, writing, editing, proofreading, etc. Run every paper you do through a checklist to make sure that everything is on point, from the formatting and up to graphs.
- Spaced practice
It is a great practice that helps to memorize and comprehend large volumes of information. It means studying one topic over a longer time instead of doing it in one sitting. The main idea is to revisit information several times so that you can remember it better.
For example, instead of reading one time about the topic, you need to separate the process into several days. On day one you learn the new material in a lecture. On day two – you revise it according to your notes. Then, you need to revise it on day 3 again. And after a week or two weeks, too. The revision session shouldn’t be very long; it might take 30 minutes and up to an hour.
This technique works also because we tend to remember better what we’ve retrieved from our memory rather than after passively reading information several times. The idea is to try to remember the answer instead of looking it up. After answering, you can always check yourself. There are many ways to practice it – use practice tests or make your own questions regarding the topic. One can also make flashcards with questions, terms, or formulas to remember.
- Active reading.
SQ3R technique helps to be an active reader and get the best from it. It divides the process into 5 stages: survey, question, read, recite, and review. Before reading the book, look it through, read the headlines, take notes about terms, subheadings, or graphs (survey). Then ask what the chapter is about, what can you expect from it (question)? After that, read and look for answers on your questions, summarize what you’ve read (recite), and review what you’ve studied.
To understand something truly, you need to explain it in simple words. It is especially important with complex concepts STEM might deal with. Write down the concept and try to explain it to yourself without using specific terms. Imagine that you are explaining the concept to someone who has absolutely no idea. Check yourself, try again. This technique boosts active comprehension.
- Leitner System.
It is a well-known practice that is based on the use of flashcards. The premise is simple – you need several boxes and cards with everything you need to learn. All cards start in box one. When you answer it correctly – you move it to the next box. Box one is revised every day, box two every two days, box three – every five days, etc.
Academic success requires the implementation of the best study practices and changes in a lifestyle. It is a complex process that takes some dedication and management. But, when you get it right – everything is possible and a STEM degree doesn’t feel so scary anymore.