11/06/2012

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Top Three Tips For Reading One of the challenges of college, especially if you're a part-time or returning student, is finding the time and place to read. You have a lot of assigned reading, and usually, it's more reading than you've ever done in your life before, and it's reading you're expected to know thoroughly enough to discuss in class, write about in papers and discussion boards, and remember for exams. What's the best way to read and remember the information from those books, articles and Websites? First, you need to have a place to read. This may be he library; but because of commitments to work and family, you may need a place to read at home. It needs to be someplace quiet, and as free as possible from distractions. You need to be able to concentrate on your reading — and that means not being distracted by music, kids playing, conversation, or TV. It may be a comfortable chair in a quiet room of your house, or the public library, or even your car in a quiet parking place. You need to have good lighting, and ready access to a notebook or other tool for note-taking, or possibly a pencil and post-its for highlighting, marking passages and annotating. If most of your assigned reading is online, you need access to a computer and powersource. If you are distracted by noise, consider wearing headphones or earplugs. If you're one of those people for whom music is background white noise, or a coffee shop is just loud enough for you to concentrate on reading, then adjust your surroundings to suit. Find a regular reading place. Have your tools at the ready. Create an environment that encourages concentration. Second, build reading time into your daily schedule; even if it's only a half hour here and another half hour there. Schedule regular time to read, exclusively to read, not to read and watch the game, or listen to the radio, or visit with friends. You're reading for retention, so you need to really concentrate. Schedule when you'll read and what. Schedule reading time every day. Most college classes require about two hours of reading per hours in class. Read ahead when you can. Third, you need to find ways to make the information you read yours. That means reading actively. Ask yourself questions about what you've read. Try to predict what the reading is about based on the titles, subheadings, and sections. Answer any reading questions at the end of chapters for yourself. If you think that the question might appear on an exam, consider writing a 300 to 500 word detailed answer as practice. Annotate or highlight the text to mark the important ideas; don't highlight more than 20% or so of a page, as a general rule, because that's often a clue that you're not reading for the important points. Gloss important concepts, any words you don't know, or key dates in the margin. Create a "reading map" by means of annotations, and your reading notes, so that you will be able to review the material effectively and efficiently. Consider meeting with other students to discuss the reading; even if you only do this in preparation for exams, talking about your reading with others helps you make connections and remember. [Originally written for College Adviser]
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Create a Study Group If you're an independent student living off campus, or one with commitments to a job or a family, you may feel isolated and alone in terms of studying. Consider reaching out to other students in your class to create a study group. Even an hour of concentrated discussion once a week can make a huge difference in your understanding and ability to remember what you've learned and read. A study group needs to have enough members for the group to function when one or two members can't make a session, but not so many that it's impossible to manage. Five to seven members is about right. Consider meeting once a week for ninety minutes at a regular location, possibly a room at the library you've reserved, a campus study hall, or a local coffee house if it's quiet enough to hear each other. Here are some things to keep in mind about creating and running a study group: Establish a regular schedule and location for the study group. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses. Send out a reminder two days before the group meets, and ask for and suggest topics for discussion based on readings, class lectures and discussions. If students are from different locations and meeting in person is difficult, consider using IM, Chat , Google Hangouts or Skype for study group meetings. For some classes, it works well to divide up reading assignments and have each member responsible for picking out core concepts, facts, and vocabulary. Everyone is still responsible for all the reading, but dividing the coverage makes it easier to be thorough. Make sure that everyone gets a chance to ask questions; don't overlook students who might not be aggressive but who might have very good questions. Don't forget to work with the other members of the group so that it's collaborative; you're working together; it's not just one person doing everything. [Originally written for College Adviser]