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Jul 13 2016
by Melissa Hamilton

Memorizing Vs. Learning: How to Study Better in College

By Melissa Hamilton - Jul 13 2016
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Phone numbers, birthdays, addresses, social security numbers, passwords and your student ID number are things that you may have memorized. However, trust me when I tell you this...do not just memorize the material that is being taught to you! It will eventually hurt you in the long run because each lesson builds up from the previous one. Which means that in order to keep moving forward, you should already have a solid foundation from the material of the pervious lesson. In college, professors expect you to understand certain things. They do not want to teach material that should have already been taught to you back in high school or middle school. If they have to, some professors might become aggravated or tell you that it may be best to switch to a remedial class. I was in this type of predicament back in middle school, but soon realized that I had to let go of that ineffective study habit.  

1. Flashcards

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Flashcards always used to be my best friend. Why? Well because they always came in handy when I needed to study vocabulary words. I would just write the word on one side and the definition on the other. Then, I would look them over and have my friend, mother or brother test me. Afterwards, I felt confident and ready for the test the next day. Every time I took a test, I aced it! I used this strategy in middle school until freshmen year in high school. That’s when I began to think to myself how effective this strategy really was. What was I learning? How many words and definitions did I still remember after the test? And was I able to apply it in the real world?

2. Why Written Methods Didn’t Work

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In middle school, my teachers only asked us to match the words to the definition or write it out. Once I entered 9th grade, teachers took it a step further and started asking us to compare and contrast or explain in our own words what we thought the word meant. Memorizing was not going to help me here. I had to actually take the time to understand what the definition was saying. It was not as easy as pie anymore.

3. Most Important Concepts

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As students move on to college, it is important to know the difference between just memorizing and actually learning something. When memorizing, there is a lack of depth in meaning and whatever you do memorize, it quickly then evaporates from your brain. As for learning, once you sit down and take the time to understand the ideas and concepts, it becomes easier to apply it in the real world. Education has changed, even how professors present information now is differently. It’s not as important anymore to learn rote facts, but to find information, and more importantly, how to learn the new material quickly and effectively. All that requires the ability to recall what has been taught to you.

4. Higher Level Thinking

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High school prepared me for college. However, college will prepare me for life, the future and my career. I am currently doing the summer term at Florida Memorial University, and my biology professor was looking over everyone’s homework from the other night. She felt as if everyone copied the definitions from the internet and did not understand a single thing they wrote down. She told us to take out a sheet of paper and write at least 3 pairs of words and compare and contrast them. Hardly anybody was able to. Some could not even remember what words were paired up together. As college students, it is time for a more higher level of critical thinking. No more simple answers.  

5. Key Concepts

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At one point in middle school, I felt as if I cheated my whole way through, but now that I am in college, I really have to put in the effort to get to my destination. To do that, I have to push myself harder. My biology professor even told us to set up a schedule for right now (summer term) and the fall so we each can set aside a good amount of time for studying. With myself being a biology major, it will take up a lot of time, hard work and dedication to achieve my goals. However, I know I can do it simply by re-reading chapters in the textbook to actually understand key concepts and reading through a chapter before it has been covered. Those are definitely two ways to study any material effectively. They have nothing to do with just memorizing but actually taking things part by part like you’re dissecting a frog.

6. Beyond the Basics

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It is vital to read between the lines and grasp what is being taught to you. Remember your education is not free anymore once you hit college. Take advantage of all the resources that are given to you. Make the best out of it and manage your time wisely to study the concepts and material in depth. Know the difference between memorizing and learning! Once you actually learn something, that knowledge can take you far in life. 

This is your last summer before you head off to college so make the best out of it. However, please use the rest of your summer wisely and remember knowledge is key to success. Never forget that! Go in depth with certain concepts and ask your professors lots of questions. Always sit in the front of your class and show them you want to learn.

Lead Image Credit: Pixabay.com

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Melissa Hamilton - Florida Memorial University

I am 20 years old and I attend Florida Memorial University. I am majoring in biology and minoring in communications. I love singing, rapping, writing poetry and performing. My poet name is MockingJay and my fav colors are blue, black, & purple, but most importantly I love to write. <3

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