How to develop effective study habits in high school for future university success

Dr Linda Meyer, MD of IIE Rosebank College and member of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), further explains what steps can be taken to develop effective study habits while in high school. Picture: Supplied

Dr Linda Meyer, MD of IIE Rosebank College and member of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), further explains what steps can be taken to develop effective study habits while in high school. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 20, 2024


An education experts says that one of the most important skills to develop in high school is learning to study effectively, with future higher education success in mind.

Dr Linda Meyer, MD of IIE Rosebank College, said that, “For many high school students, the focus is almost exclusively on doing well in their next exam by trying to master their work in whichever way possible. While it is, of course, important to try and perform optimally during exams, the more fundamental skill to master during your high school years is the ability to study effectively while the workload is still relatively contained.”

“High School is a phase filled with advanced subjects, increased independence, and personal accountability. This is the time to establish strong study habits, not just for high school success but as a foundation for future academic endeavours, especially in university.”

According to Meyer high school should be viewed as a stepping stone to prepare students for the challenges of higher education and, ultimately, a successful career. This is the time to develop the skills and habits that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.

“The shift from a structured high school environment to the more independent and self-directed university world can be a game-changer. This is where the study habits you developed in high school come into play, helping you meet the higher expectations and increased learning demands of university life.”

Meyer said there were several foundations to support effective study habits, and parents and teachers should assist students in developing these. They include:

– Understanding one's learning preferences and needs is the cornerstone of effective study habits. High school students should self-assess or seek support to identify their learning style, whether auditory, visual or kinesthetic. Tailoring study methods to these personal inclinations can significantly boost comprehension and retention. It is also well worth the investment to attend a good study methods workshop early in one’s high school career.

– Effective time management is pivotal in the high school setting and beyond. It involves prioritising academic tasks, setting achievable goals, and crafting a balanced schedule accommodating studies and personal time. The discipline of managing time efficiently in high school sets the stage for success in the more unstructured university environment.

– Active engagement with study material through summarisation, questioning, and peer teaching enhances understanding and memory. High school students should be encouraged to explore beyond passive reading and engage in interactive and dynamic study practices.

– Recognising the value of seeking assistance and engaging in group study can greatly enrich learning. Collaboration with peers introduces multiple perspectives and problem-solving approaches, enriching the educational experience.

– Consistent, daily revision and practice reinforce learning and prevent the need for last-minute cramming. Establishing a habit of regular review in high school aids in the long-term retention of information, a practice that proves invaluable in university studies.

Meyer added that, “Implementing effective study habits involves a commitment to gradual change and flexibility. High school students might start by setting specific goals for each study session or experimenting with various learning strategies to discover what works best. Continuous self-reflection on the effectiveness of these strategies is critical to ongoing improvement.”

“Good study habits established in high school do more than prepare students for academic success in university; they equip students with skills applicable to various aspects of life, including professional and personal challenges. These habits foster a mindset of lifelong learning and adaptability, which are essential for success in a world where the future is unpredictable.”

This is why high school presents a pivotal opportunity for students to build and refine their study habits, setting a solid foundation for university and beyond.

“By recognising the value of this period and actively working to improve their learning techniques, students can ensure a smoother transition to higher education and set themselves up for a successful academic and professional future.”

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