THE BLOG
01/14/2015 09:25 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2015

3 Study Lessons That Can Benefit Students in Any College Major

In college, every class, every professor, and every major presents an entirely unique set of challenges. Despite this reality, there are many study lessons and strategies that can help students in all majors. Here are three to try during the spring semester:

Record class lectures and notes on your smartphone
Whether you commute to school or live on campus, you likely spend quite a bit of time traveling to and from your classes. If you record your notes and professors' lectures (with permission, of course), and then listen to them while commuting to or walking on campus, you can easily increase the number of hours you devote to studying. Most smartphones have an audio recording feature, and affordable audio recorders can often be found in many stores or online.

In order to maximize your review sessions, try to organize your recordings. Create and follow a specific plan for listening to them. Certain students prefer to record class lectures verbatim, while others like to record their personal interpretation of the lecture. Whatever method you choose, consider listening to those notes and/or lectures from the previous class before attending the next one.

Write your notes by hand, rather than typing them
You may be able to type faster than you can write, but research published in Scientific American suggests that students who handwrite their notes learn and retain more information. Researchers studied students who took notes in a classroom (half by laptop, half by hand), and then tested them on their recall, their understanding of the material, and their ability to generalize the content. Students who used laptops took more notes, but those people who wrote their notes by hand had a better conceptual understanding of the information and could more easily apply and integrate it.

Some researchers believe that when students handwrite notes, they cannot record every word spoken aloud. As a result, they must actively summarize course material while transcribing it. This process functions as an extra level of "studying" that laptop users may not always receive.

If you choose to type your notes for other reasons, aim to use fonts like Arial and Times New Roman at 12-point size. A study from the Software Usability Research Laboratory at Wichita State University suggests that the human mind can read these fonts the fastest.

Use programs like Cold Turkey and Self Control
For some students, avoiding social media and other online distractions is much easier in theory than it is in actual practice. If this describes you, consider utilizing programs like Cold Turkey (for PCs) or Self Control (for Macs). These apps temporarily block specific websites for a period of time that you manage. With Cold Turkey and Self Control, you can avoid the constant battle of wondering what is happening on your Facebook or Twitter feed. You can even pair these apps with a journey to your dorm lounge or library if you would like to be completely free of loud distractions (including your cell phone), roommates, and any other interruptions your dorm room may bring.