Back to the books: Study tips to jumpstart your semester


Governor Lightfoot

Anthony Pierce, a freshman studying mechanical engineering, takes notes while working in a study room located in Geoffrey Hall.

A fresh list of Canvas assignments welcomed students back to Iowa State as classes started up for another semester Tuesday morning. The expectation to immediately dive into a bottomless string of school projects can be intimidating, but students across campus have study strategies to help them withstand the upcoming homework loads.

For many students, the first step is finding the proper motivation. Bekah Reu, a sophomore studying kinesiology and health, likes to focus on the things she can do after she finishes her classwork.

“I tell myself that if I want free time, or if I want to hang out with this friend, I gotta get it done,” Reu said.

Other people think about their grades or the cost of their tuition to motivate themselves to get the most out of their classes. Whatever it is, finding a good motivator helps keep procrastination at bay, which can alleviate future stress.

“We always talk about our future selves,” said Camryn Connell, a sophomore studying kinesiology and health. “Do it for your future self. You’re gonna appreciate it.”

Being proactive with homework can also keep assignments from stacking up in overwhelming ways.

“It’s easy to brush off either the smaller assignments or the more distant assignments, and then all of a sudden it’s a lot more work than you’re expecting,” Connell said.

If procrastination does manage to sneak its way in, finding and sticking to an effective work environment can help encourage a good study session.

While attempting to study for fall semester finals, Karlee Henningsen and Blake Donlon rearranged Donlon’s apartment to avoid their classwork. When they finished procrastinating with apartment decor, they headed to the library together to find a better workspace.

“You just gotta go somewhere where you kind of feel pressured to study,” Henningsen, a junior studying English, said.

Many students feel that the library encourages them to study because other people can see if they are not working. It is also full of people who are already in a productive mindset.

“When everyone else is studying around you, you kind of feel motivated,” said Paiton Williams, a senior studying management information systems. “I think environment plays a large part in how you study.”

Establishing a good work environment means finding a good location, but it also includes being intentional with who you surround yourself with. While some people benefit from studying with friends, others require a little solitude.

Reu enjoys the library because it is often full of people she does not know. It allows her to study in other people’s company without the temptation to talk and without distracting noises.

“The thing I find most helpful is going to the tiers where it’s really quiet because there’s white noise in the back, so it helps me block out any other sounds,” Reu said. “But there’s enough life that I don’t feel alone.”

Ryan Epp, a senior studying mechanical engineering, prefers to study with friends to help him stay on track.

“It’s a little more purposeful, and if we’re both on the same goal of studying and getting things done, there’s a little more accountability there,” Epp said.

However, the best studying strategy to remember is to prioritize classwork accordingly, which can actually mean setting it to the side sometimes. Janette Schraft, a senior studying psychology, did not turn in some of her assignments last semester because she could not fit them into her schedule.

“It’s not that I don’t care about my assignments, it’s just that I prioritize this other thing,” Schraft said. “If I didn’t get something done, then I’m not going to be half in my assignment and half present somewhere else.”

A valuable study session begins with a focused mindset, which is best achieved through a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

“If something does come up, just remember that this isn’t everything,” Schraft said. “Deal with it as you must, but just know that the grades you’re getting, like, that’s really not defining you.”