Study Skills Your Teen Will Need in College

By Huntington Learning Center

Knowing how to study effectively is important in high school, but it’s even more crucial in college, where students are expected to manage multiple demanding classes and regularly prove their understanding of class material on quizzes and exams. Here are several study skills your teen will need in college and should work to strengthen throughout high school:

  • Note-taking – College professors deliver information in many ways, but a common one is through lectures. That means students need to be comfortable taking high-quality notes that they can use to study later on. There are many different methods that are effective, so students can adopt what works for them—whether that’s a more visual concept-mapping approach, the popular Cornell note-taking method or a method of their own creation. The keys to good note-taking are to summarize essential information in a way that jogs the memory on a topic, to translate a professor’s lecture into a usable study guide for later reference, and call out ideas, terms and concepts to study further.
  • Daily review – Daily review of notes and class material is the best way for students in college (and high school) to learn concepts well. Students who study a little each day for all subjects will know the information better than those who opt to cram only before tests. In many college classes, there is less graded homework, but that doesn’t mean students should skip it. It’s worthwhile to put continued effort toward learning by keeping up with reading, practice problems and other work that teachers assign—whether required or not.
  • Organization – Organization is important always, but in college, it becomes critical because school is more demanding and time-consuming. Students should embrace a reliable organizational system for keeping track of the tangible items—syllabi, notes, class materials, etc.—as well as all information coming to them through apps or any learning management platform. In high school, students should spend a little time each day tidying up the desk, filing away important papers, keeping the computer files organized and recording any upcoming due dates or tasks in the planner.
  • Time management – There’s a lot going on in college outside the classroom, so students who aren’t skilled at managing their many tasks and to-dos will miss out—or their grades might suffer. Students should use a planner or planner/homework app to keep track of all school work, and some sort of calendar—either printed or on the smartphone—to stay on top of their daily obligations, from school to work to anything else. 
  • Active listening and reading – College requires a lot of reading, so it’s vital that students are skilled at reading for understanding and comprehension. Active reading means being engaged with the text by continuously checking for understanding and taking notes for reference later (especially if reading dense material). Active listening is similar in that students must be able to tune out distractions, ask questions to clarify understanding and take notes to help themselves remember information later. 
  • Test preparation – It’s not uncommon for college professors to make tests the biggest component of students’ overall class grades. That means students must be able to perform well on tests if they want to earn good grades in college. Keeping up in classes is a big part of that, but it’s also useful for teens to work on developing study schedules and methods as well as stress management techniques as high school students. They should use SAT/ACT prep as an opportunity to become adept at deciphering question types and improving their test-taking speed. 

Whether your teen is headed to college next year or in a few years, you should encourage him or her to develop these essential study skills now. Having a solid foundation for success will make the transition to college-level academics easier and more enjoyable and allow your teen to focus on what really matters: defining and preparing for his or her future.