An important lesson to learn from school is how to use your time well, and studying intensely is critical to making the best use of your time. Studying intensely means setting aside specific, well-defined times for study and committing 100% of one's attention to studying during those periods.
Many students fool themselves by half-studying and half-doing something else (for example, socializing, watching television, eating, listening to music). These other activities are all fine and good, but it is dangerous to lie to one's self by calling such activity `study.' One could easily convince one's self of the earnestness of one's efforts while actually accomplishing little, and then later wonder why all the time one has spent `studying' is not paying off.
Also see scheduling study time.
Schedule study time for the part of the day when you are naturally most alert.
Schedule breaks in the midst of extended study periods, say five minutes every half hour or every hour.
Often the last thing you think about will stay with you during the night. So studying right before bed can be a way to promote unconscious `study' while you sleep. There's a risk that this strategy will make you fixate your worries on stdying. If it does, discontinue it.
The first step in studying with intensity is choosing a venue. The best place to study would be:
A desk in one's room is often a good place, since one can usually control the environment reasonably well. However, the ability to contol the environment also provides unique temptations, such as the stereo, bed, etc. Other drawbacks to studying in one's room include distractions, such as phone calls, friends dropping by, noisy roommates.
Another good place is the library. Just be careful about which library you choose.
The Columbia College Library is a prime example of a bad place to study at Columbia: AVOID THE COLLEGE LIBRARY! This is a great place for talking, flirting, munching, but not for absorbing a serious academic subject. There are plenty of better libraries at Columbia, libraries at which one can actually concentrate on school work. Many upper floors of Butler offer solitude.
Unused classrooms can make a good place to study. In an urban setting such as New York, care should be taken that the building is not so deserted as to present a risk to one's safety.
It is often advantageous to study with friends. Having a friend nearby, even if studying a different subject but also intensely working, is a tremendous encouragement.
The best reason for studying together for the same class is to build on the knowledge base one has already acquired by studying individually. With all participants having perviously devoted individual time to studying, everyone can receive the maximum benefit. In this way group study can become a time to complete one's understanding of the material by viewing it from the unique perspectives of others. Those who have more difficulties gain by having the material re-explained to them, and those who know more learn the material more thoroughly by explaining it.
It is not a good idea to study with a romantic interest. Or at least, one should not count time spent thus as studying.
Having trouble resisting the urge to slack off? It might help to remember these words of Victor Frankl, founder of one of the Vienna schools of psychology:
``Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!'' It seems that there is nothing that would stimulate a man's sense of responsibleness more than this maxim, which invites him to imagine first that the present is past and, second, that the past may yet be changed and amended. Such a precept confronts him with life's finiteness as well as the finality of what he makes out of both his life and himself.
--Victor Frankl, "Logotherapy in a Nutshell",
Man's Search for Meaning.