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Basic rules of academic writing

Basic rules of academic writing: what you should be ready for when studying in college or university

May 26, 2013 - Posted to  Writing in General
College is an exciting time in any young person's life. A time to gain independence, and to be out on your own, while making your own decisions. It is not an inexpensive endeavor, however, and one that needs to be taken very seriously. In addition to the social life and all the new experiences that college will bring, there will be some considerable hard work that needs to be done over the next four years. Many who have unrealistic expectations about what college is about, or how much effort needs to be expended while there, will not make it through their Freshman year. Understanding what will be your responsibility in college is integral to being able to successfully complete your degree and land the job of your dreams.
Although you have no doubt had to study before to get through high school, college is different. There isn't going to be anyone standing over you, or assigning you homework every night. As much as you disliked homework in high school and thought it was a waste of time, there was a point behind it that you probably didn't realize. Homework was designed to force you to study the material that was being presented. You probably didn't recognize that the homework was targeted to get you familiar with the material and helped you to pass the exams. It felt more like busywork. Many college students are relieved that they no longer have work to take home, and consider there home time as free. Unfortunately, when there is no work assigned, it is easy to put the books away as soon as class resumes.
If you aren't used to cracking those books, or have never put a lot of effort forth once home to review the work in class, you may have difficulty with the amount of studying that you will have to do to successfully navigate through your college work. There are several things, general rules, that you will have to follow to achieve passing grades. Even if you are the most visual learner, and make it to every lecture and class, there are going to be things that must be done outside of the classroom setting which are solely your responsibility.
There are several things that you must do to successfully navigate your way through college. Specific things that you do will help aid in the ease with which you find your way through college, and those things that you should avoid.

Guidelines to studying

Those things that will be beneficial to studying in college are:
  • Look for studying preparatory classes prior to enrolling into college
  • Put time aside after class to review what you have gone over - people tend to remember things when they are put to memory. That is best achieved when reviewing the material while still fresh
  • When reading the material that has been given, highlight those areas which will be important to revisit before an exam
  • Always take notes, not only during a lecture, but when reviewing the material - even if you think you will remember it, it is always best to write it down to study before an exam
  • Be selective in what you are taking notes on - don't write down everything that is said during lecture or you will be overwhelmed and most likely miss the important information
  • Make an outline of what material you need to review prior to an exam - setting a schedule on what is most important to look over, and in what sequence, will allow you to take stock of what time you will need to review and study before an exam
  • If you notice you have difficulty with material presented, asterisk it so you go over it more carefully
  • Take mental breaks - it is good to get up often to reset your mind and give it a break. Your brain is like everything else, it can only take so much information before you begin to lose focus and attention
  • Get enough sleep - even in college getting a good nights sleep is key to having the focus and attention that is required
  • Make sure you are eating well
  • When taking an exam, or during lecture, always try to sit in the same seat or vicinity - state-dependent learning is important. The seat that you sit in is the best place to recall the information you learned. Sitting in the same place will aid in your recall efforts during an exam
There are things that you should avoid while studying in college. These pitfalls can sabotage even the best study intentions:
  • Don't study with the friends you know are distracting - even if you share classes with friends, it is best to study without their assistance. Mostly, they will probably only provide distraction
  • Don't study in the middle of the action - find a quiet place to study where you can focus
  • Don't cram before an exam, make sure you allow yourself enough time - cramming before an exam may help a very small few. Almost all of is study better when there is enough allotted time that time constants don't interfere with additional stress imposed upon your efforts
  • Even if there are things that arise, stick to your study schedule - don't put off what you know you have to do. Get it done before you find the time to play
Being successful in college is about growing up and accepting responsibility. The professors are not going to check your homework, or make sure that you are doing the work you should on your own. Even if that seems like freedom, it isn't. The freedom afforded is really just additional responsibility on your part to take the steps necessary to learn the material. Developing good study habits can make the difference between passing your exams and miserably failing them. Although a fun and exciting time in life, it is also a time where lots of money is being spent, and that is setting your course for the future. It is okay to enjoy your time away from home, but make sure you are taking it seriously as well. College is a stepping stone to the rest of your life, make it a good one.
By Kevin Demlon. Kevin is a good freelance writer. He tutors students on different academic papers' requirements and specifics of referencing styles.
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