How To Effectively Study In A Library

When it comes to college, one important rite of passage is being up late studying in a library at least once in your time as a college student (but not an all-nighter though, we all know my opinion on all-nighters.) Today I am going to walk you through the steps of how to effectively study in a library. From what to bring to where to study, I have you covered on this post.

How To Effectively Study In A Library | Click through to learn how to effectively study in a library by learning what to bring, where to study, and why the library might not be the most productive place to study.

I. How To Plan Your Library Study Session

It is important to think about what you will bring to the library. At least when I lived on campus, going to the library was kind of a thing. Most people don’t live right beside the library so even if it’s not that big of a deal to walk, if you leave the library, chances are you are done for the day (or at least a few hours). So, to effectively study in a library I suggest you do the following:

Go Over What You Intend To Study

What do you need to do at the library today? Figuring out exactly what you need to study in the library will help you out a lot. If you have a plan of what courses you will be studying for when you get to the library you can then make an effective plan for what to bring. You want to be well prepared when you go to the library so having all the textbooks and miscellaneous things you need is essential, but so is not carrying things you don’t need.

Having too many things in your backpack on the way to the library can be exhausting. It can make you question why you want to go to the library to begin with. Don’t question yourself. Make smart decisions and be smart about what you pack by having a study plan before you leave.

Be honest with yourself, how much can you really get done in a few hours at the library. Even if you are the most focused person in the world, a library grind session can only produce so much in terms of results.

PRO TIP: If you are studying with someone in the same class as you, coordinate with them. Chances are you both won't need the book at the same time, so see if you can coordinate which one of you will bring the book during your study session.

Click the picture above to download my awesome Library Study checksheet. Print this out and then fill it out for each study session you have. This sheet is awesome because it details your big picture item for the study session and allows you to break that big picture item into various tasks. Then it allows you to write out some smaller tasks that will be helpful to do during your library session as well.

During your study session you want to focus on your big picture task. Then once that is done, if you still feel like you can study longer you have a list of three secondary tasks you want to work on. I know getting four tasks done during a library study session sounds small, but if you are like me, this is important. After a while in the library, at least for me, I ended up doing more goofing off than studying. Doing just four tasks, and doing them well, will serve you best so you don’t overwork yourself while you are in the library (and so you don’t waste your time by feigning productivity.)

The Happy Library Study Packing List

Here are the things that I recommend for every library studying trip.

  • Laptop and laptop charger (if you plan to be on your computer, some libraries allow you to rent laptops in the library, which is what I usually did instead of bringing my own to the library)
  • Necessary textbooks if you have physical copies (don’t bring every textbook, only the ones you know you will use.)
  • Your Planner/Your Library Study Plan Sheet
  • School supplies (at least a notebook and some pens and/or pencils)
  • Cell phone and cell phone charger
  • Headphones (to be quiet zones, libraries can be awfully loud, especially campus libraries)
  • Water bottle (always remember this, don’t fall prey to the vending machines, I recently bought this one from and I am obsessed!)
  • Student ID (a must for any library trip, especially if you want to print)
  • Food (no excuses to leave, bring some snacks)
  • Period supplies (if it’s your time of the month, definitely bring these, your library probably doesn’t provide them)

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II. Where To Study

The library can be a pretty sprawling place. Here are my rules for where to study in a library:

NEVER Study On The First Floor

This is my BIGGEST study rule for library studying. If you can help it, never study on the first floor, especially if you want serious results from your study session. Your best bet for a serious study session is to go up at least to the second floor. The higher you go up in the library, it seems, the quieter it gets. You want to study as far up as makes sense for you.

NEVER study near stairs or the doorway

Again, this is a huge spot for distractions. People don’t really consider their volume as much when they are just walking into the library or when they are taking the stairs/getting off an elevator. These spots are bound to have a ton of distractions so your best bet would be to stay away from them when you are deciding where to study.

Try to get a study room

Study rooms are amazing. At my old university we had a plethora of study rooms and I always love studying in them way more than I liked studying in the open. If you can find a study room, they are great because they offer you a bit of privacy when studying, and you can talk things out a lot more within them than you can in the general library.

Understand how you study best

Studying in a group is something that a lot of people love to do, especially in the library, but it doesn't work best for everyone. I will elaborate on this more in just a second, but be wary that what works for others will not always work for you. Your friends and their study habits will not always work for you, and as I have stated on the blog before, you have to stop worrying about other people's study habits.

III. Using library Resources

Your library has a plethora of amazing resources that will help you become more effective at studying as well as a more effective student.

I have a huge post all about how to use research databases that I published over the summer. This is one of my favorite posts on The Happy Arkansan so you should go check that post out right now if you want to use your libraries research database.

Chances are your library also has an online catalogue of all the books in the library--use this system. Searching for books in a college library can be a complete and utter pain, so don't do it without going on a search online first. Having a great understanding of what your library has to offer by checking it out online first really helps, because aimlessly searching for an important book just isn't okay.

PRO TIP: Don't forget about library services like Interlibrary Loan. These services will help you boost your study skills and really help you with any papers you have to write.

I sent out a tweet about this post looking for some pro tips about studying in the library and one of my Twitter followers, Heather, mentioned Interlibrary Loan (or ILL.) This is seriously one of the best things that colleges have to offer, especially when you start doing extensive research. You are NOT confined to your school. Use ILL to your advantage and request documents if you need them to do your research. Never feel that you have to be pigeonholed to your libraries information.

Become best friends with your reference librarian

Most libraries have at least one librarian with the title "reference librarian." If you are not currently comfortable with using a library or you even need help on something more advanced, your reference librarian can really help point you in the right direction. Find out who this person is, and talk with them. If you can't find them, any librarian will probably know the basics of the library, but if you can find the reference librarian they will be an even bigger help to you. Reference librarians are well trained on the different offerings of your school library so that is why they are the most trusted source.

You can usually easily spot the reference librarian because they will have a sign or they will be the person working the information desk at the library. Ask them questions and you can begin to unlock all the amazing things your library offers.

IV. Remember, The Library Won’t Make You Productive

Before we leave, I have one thing to say, the library won’t make you inherently productive. Yes, studying in the library can be a great experience, we all want to get together with friends or camp out alone in the library one night. This will not make you inherently productive, though. You may hate group study sessions and find them distracting. You may hate the entire concept of libraries and study better in the student union or in a student lounge area.

I do think studying in the library at least once is a rite of passage for college students. Do it. It is great. But if you find out that it doesn’t work for you, don’t force yourself to love studying in the library. Some people are more productive laying in their bed, some people are more productive in a private study room in the library.

The most productive thing I ever started doing for myself was using The Pomodoro Technique which I have talked about on the blog before. It's not always going to the library and working tirelessly, sometimes it's just better time management that will help you and your study habits out. 

Extra Resources

Check out these bloggers and their thoughts on studying in the library. I love sharing the love, so go check out these other posts about studying in the library:

5 Things You Need Before You Study In The Library by As Life Grows

Library Study Session Tips & Essentials by Bookish and Bright

How To Have A Product Library Study Session by Macarons & Mascara

What are your best library study tips? How do you stay productive in the library?

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How To Make Sure What You Are Studying Will Be On The Test

When studying for exams sometimes it feels like all our hard work is for naught because NOTHING we study ends up on the exam. There is no worse feeling than putting hours of studying into an exam, only to realize that what you are studying isn’t even on the radar of your professor. Here are some tips to making sure that you are not wasting your time when it comes to studying.

How To Make Sure What You Are Studying Will Be On The Test | Studying is a very important part of the college experience. Above all else, you want to be an efficient studier. This post will help you understand how to better gauge what tests will look like as well as what will be on the test you take in college.

1 | Read Up On Your Professor

There are TONS of resources to figure out what kind of tests your professor is likely to give. Here are just a few of the ways you can do a little recon on your professor to see what kinds of tests they give and the relative ease/not ease of the tests they give.

Rate My Professors

This isn’t used nearly as much as it was in the past, but it can still be a good source of information about your professor. Go through and look for what they talk about, specifically if they have any comments on them about tests and test-taking. Beware though, most of the time RateMyProfessors has a slightly negative tinge to it. Most people don’t think to post a review unless they had an extremely negative experience, some are likely to post if they have an outstanding experience too so this won’t always be 100% applicable to the average student.

Talk directly To Old Students

Chances are you may be able to find a student who has taken this professor before, maybe not in this exact course, but professors tend to have the same teaching style regardless of the class they are teaching. Get a feel for the type of professor you will have by simply getting to know some old students and discussing their thoughts on the test. Bonus points if you can find someone who took your exact class in a different semester, those are the real gems when you are talking to old students.

Read The Syllabus

Doing research from other students is great, but there is also a treasure trove of information right in the syllabus. Read the syllabus, especially in the sections where it discusses assignments. You may be able to pick up some clues about the test or other assignments while reading.

Use your right now judgement

Above all else, use your "right now" judgement. Professors change over time. They may have had a particularly rough semester when someone left their review of the professors teaching style (or conversely an amazing semester that semester.) They could have changed the course exponentially based on past reviews since an old student took them. Syllabi almost always have a few tweaks to them by the end of the semester. You can pull from all of these sources to make predictions about how your course will go, but your right now judgement is the best judgement that you can use to determine what your professors tests and assignments will be like.

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2 | Listen To The Lecture

Professors are pretty great about giving you clues, if you listen intently enough. The best way to make sure you are able to listen for those context clues is to be fully present and alert in class. You can be present, and not present at all. When in class it should have your undivided attention, because otherwise you could easily be sidetracked by the a million things happening in other places. 

I am going to give it to you straight, Facebook probably is a 1,000,000 times more interesting than anything your professor has to say.

What does this mean? It means you can’t give your Facebook a reason to compete with your professor because chances are your Facebook page will win. Your text message thread will win. Your game will win. 

I am telling you this, because it is true and these distractions will potentially cost you in a number of ways:

  1. You will miss out on all of the important clues your professor will hint at throughout course lectures about what will be on the test.
  2. You will potentially be burning bridges with professors because they will be able to tell when you are on your phone, no matter how sneaky you think you are being.

Instead of being attached to your phone, get attached to participating in the lecture. This is also important because the #1 way to cut down on your necessary studying time, especially for classes like the liberal arts, is to pay attention to course lectures.

3 | Understand The Main Concepts Driven Home By Any Textbooks

Let’s talk about course textbooks for a second, it is really important that you are able to understand the main concepts driven home by textbooks. Here are some examples of things you can do when you are reading course textbooks:

Be able to define all the definitions.

Go through your textbook chapters and be able to define the definitions of most of the concepts. Depending on the course you are taking, you may not need to be able to define them explicitly, but your professor will more than likely write the test in the same language used in the book and during lectures so you need to be certain that you will be able to understand what all the language means when you see it.

Be able to say at least a few sentences about each header and subheader in your textbook’s chapters.

The headers and subheaders of anything are really important. As you can see, even in this article I use headers and subheaders to break up various points. If this was something that you read for a test, you should be able to say something about all five points I am making in this article. Do the same with any textbooks or academic articles you are reading.

Be able to answer the questions at the end of the chapter.

Chances are your textbook has questions at the end of each chapter. These are really awesome because they tell you what the author of the text really wants to drive home, because those are the summary questions that were picked. Some professors pull a few of their questions straight from this section, so it would be a great thing for you to take a few moments to understand what the questions are and try your best to answer them.

4 | Fill Out Any Study Guides OR Create Your Own

If your professor provides a study guide, ALWAYS FILL IT OUT. There are no if, ands, or buts to this situation. Professors who give study guides are golden creatures that should be treated as such. Are you filling out the study guides your professor gives you? There is no better way to get a study guide than to get it from the person who wrote the test, so be sure to fill it out. Professors often write the test first and then give a study guide based off the test, so they are extremely valuable.

Professors don’t always give study guides though. The lovely Amélie of A Wanderer’s Adventure wrote an amazing posts about this very topic last semester. In the post How To Create A College Study Guide Amélie discusses how to create your own study guide, because sometimes you have to take things into your own hands a bit. Read that post for more information on how to adequately create your own study guide.

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5 | Talk With Your Professor About What You Have Been Studying & Where You Need To Improve

Okay, this is the piece of the equation that you CANNOT miss. If you want to know if what you’re studying will be on the test, ask the professor. Professors want to help, but you have to be specific.

Come with questions, not a general air of dissatisfaction and confusion.

I cannot stress the above phrase enough. Come with a plan, a set of specific questions, and come after having wrestled with the material beforehand. If you come to your professors office, having done zero work on your own, you cannot expect a good result to come from it. Your professors want to know that you have dealt with the material at least a little bit, before they feel comfortable answering your questions.

Let your professors know that you want to do well on the test, that you have been studying, and that you would like help with what direction you need to focus your attention. Give them a spiel about what you have been working on.

Above all else, have time to implement what is being discussed in the meeting.

If you are going to ask your professor what you should be studying, you can’t do that on the day of the test. This is a strategy that is better used when you have at least a few days before your test. It will be difficult to discuss anything you need to study when you don’t have time to adequately study it. You want to give yourself time to take action, because this should be a very action oriented conversation that you will have with your professor.

Final Thoughts

Studying is important in college, but more important when you are juggling five courses, is studying efficiently. I hope that these tips will help you become a more efficient studier, so that you can make sure that the time you do take to burn the midnight oil, will have a positive impact on your life as a student.

What is your best studying tip for students?

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Treat Yo Self With Palmer's This Winter

Note: This post was graciously sponsored by the lovelies at Palmer's through HerCampus Media. Thanks for supporting the brands that make The Happy Arkansan possible!

When I learned about this opportunity to work with Palmer's I was so excited and I knew I had to jump at the opportunity to be a part of this campaign. Just a quick fun fact about me before we jump into today's post, I hate dry skin, so you can probably imagine that this post was right up my alley.

Treat Yo Self With Palmer's This Winter | Dry winter skin is no joke, cure it all with Palmer's this winter. Are you treating your skin right? Click through to find out more!

Winter is here, my friends, and surviving the winter is kinda horrible. Palmer's makes surviving a little easier with amazing and well-tested products. As I stated before I hate dry skin. Whether it's a Palmer's product or some other lotion, I always have to have something to keep my skin feeling great every day of the year (but especially during the winter time.

Give you skin a break this winter and pamper yourself, or as I, and my favorite duo from Parks & Rec likes to say, treat yo self!

I am obsessed with this photoshoot that I did for this post on Palmer's. Just a little behind the scenes on this shoot, it started raining while we were shooting. I swear I checked the weather before we left and rain wasn't in the forecast, but I wasn't letting a little rain stop me from showing my love for this awesome brand.

So, why is Palmer's such a great brand to treat yo self with? Simple: Palmer's uses amazing ingredients that help you heal and soften your skin. What's better than a hydrating body concentrated cream or lotion on a day when you are feeling blue because the cold didn't lead to a snow day (and instead led to just another cold day)?

To break it down Palmer's is made with two key ingredients: Cocoa Butter and Vitamin E. They have a whole slew of amazing products available on their website and I was lucky enough to be sent their:

  • Cocoa Butter Formula Daily Skin Therapy Lotion
  • Cocoa Butter Formula Daily Skin Therapy Concentrated Cream
  • Cocoa Butter Formula Swivel Stick

Each of these products feels amazing and does an amazing job making me feel totally moisturized and treated after using the products, plus after I smell like hot cocoa so that is definitely a plus in my book.

The lotion and concentrated creame are great for long lasting protection for my body, hands, and feet. The swivel stick has to be one of my favorites though because it is great to wear under my favorite lipsticks and it also works as an amazing spot treatment to keep my skin feeling extra soft if I have one or two problem areas on my skin.

These products solve all of my winter moisture problems and they are definitely my favorite product to put on in the morning after my morning shower.

So, the next time you are in need of some products to help you kick winter dry skin to the curb, head to the store and look for Palmer's. They are in so many of your normal stores that you can't miss their awesome products whether you love to shop at Walmert, Target, or any cool place that sells similar products like Walgreens, Dollar General, and Rite Aid. You seriously can't miss these awesome products, and you don't want to either.

I hope that you loved learning a little more about Palmer's with me today. I adore this brand and I think you will to. In 2017 let's strive to leave our dry skin in 2017 and add more moisture into our daily routine with Palmer's.

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