Going back to school to earn a certificate or degree can open up various career possibilities. However, you might find that studying for school while handling work and other responsibilities in your life is more challenging than you thought. When you work a full-time or part-time job, or if you have a family to care for, fitting study time into your schedule can be tough. The following study tips for college can help you balance work, life, and school.

1. Have a To-Do List and a Set Schedule

Keeping a list of school projects and assignments, exams, work projects, and other tasks you need to accomplish is important. This list provides you with a simple way to keep track of what you need to work on, when projects or assignments are due, and when you have upcoming tests or exams to study for. You should also set a schedule for working on school-related tasks, such as gathering information for projects or studying for tests. Having a set schedule gives you a designated time to focus on school.

2. Space Out Tasks and Prioritize

Trying to do too much at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Leave space in between tasks, so you won’t feel stressed or experience burnout. Prioritizing tasks can also help you figure out what to tackle first and in what order to handle the rest of your tasks. Having good time management skills is helpful in determining the amount of time to spend on tasks and how much time to leave between them. Being able to manage your time wisely as a student can help ensure you complete all schoolwork while also working full time.

3. Create a Study Cycle

Having a study cycle each semester can help you accomplish school-related tasks, including studying for exams. Your study cycle might include looking over the material you’ll be learning, attending class, and reviewing what you’ve learned. After completing these steps, your study cycle should include having a focused study session after every class to help ensure you understand the material. From time to time, you should also go over your study cycle to see if it’s still working effectively for you.

4. Switch Up Your Setting

You don’t have to study in the same place all the time. In fact, changing study settings might help you focus more. Think about different places you can study. Consider studying in the library at school, at a local park, in a coffee shop or cafe, or in the break room at work. You can also change where you study in your home, such as in your kitchen instead of your home office or dining room. Just make sure to choose a study setting without any distraction, so you can focus on the material you’re learning.

5. Don’t Cram

Cramming is an ineffective way to prepare for tests and exams. This involves trying to focus on too much material at once within a short timeframe. Studying this way can cause you to feel panicked and forget some of the material you’re trying to remember. Instead of cramming before exams and tests, give yourself plenty of time to study for them. Set aside study sessions that allow you to focus on a small amount of material at a time. Approaching study time in a more spacious way makes you more likely to remember and fully understand what you’re learning.

6. Mix It Up

Avoid studying or testing your knowledge on the same ideas or concepts over and over again. Instead, test yourself on, or study different material from time to time. Mixing it up can make it easier for you to fully understand material or help you identify specific concepts or topics you need to focus on more. When you switch up what you’re studying, you’ll also be more likely to remember different concepts or material.

7. Use Examples to Remember

Having to remember certain concepts or other material can be hard to do when they’re abstract. You can make it easier to remember this type of material by coming up with specific examples. Having examples that illustrate a particular concept or idea can help you understand and remember it better than focusing on it in a more general sense. For example, you might create a mnemonic or you might compare and contrast two concepts in detail to understand what makes them similar and/or different. Take time to come up with examples for different concepts or material you’re studying, especially for material that you’re having trouble remembering.

8. Comprehension Is More Important Than Memorization

College study tips that can help you handle work and school include focusing on comprehension rather than memorization. When you focus on memorization, you might not end up thoroughly understanding concepts and other material you’re learning. You’re simply memorizing a list of ideas, facts, or concepts, which you can do without fully understanding them. Focus on comprehending the material you’re studying instead, so you’ll have a higher chance of doing well on tests and exams.

9. Utilize Technology

Working while in college takes up a lot of your time, so it’s important to use it wisely. Make use of technology that allows you to quickly take notes or handle other school-related tasks. You can use note-taking apps to jot down important information during classes rather than trying to write everything by hand. You can also use technology to set reminders for upcoming tests and assignment due dates, and some apps will even allow you to create flashcards and quizzes. Relying on technology can help you save time, so you can focus more on studying for tests or working on assignments.

10. Use School Resources if You’re Struggling

At many schools, students have access to resources that help with academic and personal issues. These resources can help working students stay on track when they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed handling school and work. The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) offers a NexGen free student wellness assistance program, for those who are struggling with school or personal problems. Available services include counseling, individualized wellness resources, online resources, health advocacy, legal and financial consultations, and a virtual concierge.

11. Be Realistic

While these tips for studying in college can help when you’re a working student, keep in mind that you need to be realistic about what you can handle. You might find that you’re struggling to keep up with your classes or performing poorly at work while focusing on school too much. Managing your time and taking good care of yourself can help reduce your risk of struggling with work or school. However, you should be prepared to make changes or adjustments as needed if you end up feeling overwhelmed.

If you want more information on the NexGen program or if you want to explore our degree and certificate programs, please contact CHCP. We can provide you with more details on our student assistance program and the certificates and degrees we offer.