Now that I'm in college, why do I have a difficult time when I want to study?
Hi thank you so much for reaching out with your question! It can be so hard to focus on tasks such as studying, particularly if the subject is something you are not all that interested in or if the subject is confusing. It seems like you want to study but when the time comes, you are overwhelmed and this prevents you from effectively studying. The first thing to note is that you are not alone in this struggle! I'm wondering if these things may help:
1. Since this has been difficult for you since you were a child, I would first encourage you to get evaluated for any type of potential learning challenge. So many people who are highly intelligent can also have difficulty learning in some way (difficulty reading or writing letters/words/numbers, interpreting what they read, being able to repeat back what they have learned, have difficulty processing, etc). This can be hidden for years and it would be worth checking out to see if there is an underlying issue there first. If so, there are numerous tools and approaches that will help once there is a definitive answer about any learning difficulties.
2. Work on Mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness can help to slow down your brain and body and to focus on tasks more effectively. It will be important to practice mindfulness skills even when you are not studying so that your skills can be most effective when you are trying to study. Then study one subject/assignment at a time, focusing on that specific topic. Let all other topics, distractions, thoughts, etc sort of float through - acknowledging these things, not judging yourself for having these thoughts, but returning your attention back to that one subject or assignment.
3. Take advantage of outside resources. From what it sounds like, you are in college, and colleges have specific study tools set up for student success. Check out any study groups, form a study group with other classmates, study with a peer, check out any learning labs or tutoring on your campus, and ask a teacher for help during office hours.
4. Set yourself up for success. This can be done by actually putting study time on your schedule and then dedicating that time to studying. If study groups are difficult for you (sometimes they help, sometimes not so much), utilize one of the dedicated study spaces at your campus library or make one of your own at home. This can be a corner of the room which has no other distractions, or just clearing off your desk. It can also be taking only your study materials into a study room at the library to limit distractions. Set a timer for a time span you know you can do (30 mins, 1 hour, etc). Then take a small break to walk around, get a healthy snack, etc. Then set a timer again. Take it in small increments and study over a period of days rather than trying to cram it all in just before something is due. When your brain is less stressed, you will retain more.
5. Reward yourself for doing a good job at studying by doing something you enjoy. It can be a small reward, such as your favorite ice cream or coffee, taking a walk in fresh air, hanging out with friends, playing video games, or reading a book you don't have to read for school. It can be helpful to set up this reward system prior to beginning studying to keep you motivated.
6. Lastly, one of the best resources for college studying (or any studying) has been Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book. You can find videos regarding this as well as the book online or probably in your library. This book has helped many college students effectively study material in textbooks.
I hope these resources and tips have been helpful, and again thank you for reaching out! I wish you all the best with your studies! You can do this!