Making the step up academically to college can be a difficult and overwhelming prospect for many students. It’s a lot to take in: The expectations become dramatically higher for the amount of work you are expected to be able to handle, and the volume and complexity of the information you are responsible for thoroughly understanding increases significantly. And for many students, this all happens as you discover how to balance your newfound freedoms and responsibilities as a young adult living all on your own. 

The good news is, you do not have to fight this battle blind! There are all kinds of tips and tricks out there from extremely successful students that can go a very long way in helping improve your study skills. Below are four proven tips that can remarkably improve your performance.

Live a healthy lifestyle

Not to sound like your mom or an uptight square, but the impact of living a healthy lifestyle on a person’s ability to perform in any arena, academic or otherwise, is severely understated. It is considerably easier to organize yourself and have the level of energy and motivation necessary to get things done. Plus, just flat-out think (a pretty important component of academic work) what happens when your brain and your body are in good shape. Eating a healthy diet, sticking to a good sleep schedule that gets a minimum of 7–8 hours every night, regularly exercising, and maintaining your emotional and mental health are all fundamental pieces of bringing your A-game. You don’t put unleaded fuel in a Ferrari, right?

Do the work in segments over time

Another more direct way to address working in segments is to stop procrastinating. If tasked with reading a book that’s 200 pages in two weeks, it’s a lot easier to read (and understand) 20 pages a night for 10 nights than it is to try to do all 200 in one night. The same logic is true when trying to comprehend or accomplish any large, complex subject or project. Breaking it up into smaller, more digestible pieces and making use of the time you’re afforded is essential.

Stick to a routine

Speaking of making the best use of your time, one consistent staple in the habit of successful students is adhering to a routine. Structuring your life in an organized fashion and conditioning yourself to repeat certain positive behaviors makes it much easier to be efficient and productive with your time. Setting aside two hours every afternoon Monday through Friday to study, for example, will ensure that you never get too far behind or stretched too thin. Even if you don’t have homework. 

Always attend class 

Again, this seems like kind of a no-brainer, but you would be surprised (or maybe not) at how many people find themselves struggling to understand the material or effectively study because they didn’t make attending class a priority. Even if you’re a little sleepy or not totally engaged for whatever reason, making yourself attend class forces you to stay on top of everything being discussed and all of the work required. 

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