Most majors in college require a crazy amount of reading. As a college student, you are expected to keep up with your textbook, and on top of that you may have articles or additional books to read. Now, multiply that by 6 (or however many classes you are taking). That’s a ton of reading! Not to mention, after the reading, you still have actual assignments, projects, and studying to do. Also, you have to have a social life and get enough sleep to be a functioning human. Oy vey! There literally are not enough hours in the day to do everything you are “supposed” to do as a college student. The secret of successful college students is that they don’t do all the reading they are assigned. This blog will show you how this is possible.
The Textbook Scenario
Ok, so you are supposed to read chapter 1-2 for a class discussion Friday. Also, there is a reading quiz and a reflection assignment that need to be turned in online before Friday’s class. You are having a super, busy, crazy, stressful week. However, you don’t want to look like a slacker in front of your professor and classmates during the class discussion, and you also really need the points from the quiz and the assignment. What do you do?
First- Before you do any reading, look at the prompt for the reflection. Is it asking you to summarize the whole reading assignment, or is is asking something specific from a very small section of the reading? If the reflection prompt is referring to a very small section, read only that small bit and then write your reflection. Boom, done. If the prompt is asking for more of a broad summary of the whole two chapters, flip through and find if your text has any summaries of broad sections within the chapters. Read those summaries, and then write them in your own words. Cross off your “reflection assignment” from your “to do” list.
Second- If possible, take a look at the online quiz before you read or have to take it. This way you will know what you are looking for as you read. Sometimes online quizzes don’t allow to look at them before you are ready to take them. In that case, have your book open and ready to do a lot of page-flipping. Answer the quiz questions as you read. Read the question and then find the answer. Tip: look for summaries, and key concepts of terms that are usually at end of chapters. Reading quiz complete.
Third- By time you have finished the quiz and the reflection, you already probably have a good idea of what the reading is about even though you never really sat down and read it page by page. So, you are probably more prepared for the class discussion than you may realize. If you’re nervous about it, here are a few tips: bring your book to class so you can refer to sections during class. Before class, highlight sentences to find important, interesting, or don’t understand, and then book mark those pages so you can find your highlighted sections during class. You don’t have to read a lot to do this. Just skim, or be random about it. Use what you highlighted during the discussion. Raise your hand, and say, “The part I found interesting (and I’m still a little unclear about) was on page 44, (read what you highlighted).” This will make you sound prepared even though you didn’t do ALL the reading (or even most of it).
Tips for Articles
Some professors love to give students additional articles to read. If the article is from a peer-reviewed journal, and uses the scientific method, read the abstract, results, and conclusion sections. Those are the sections that will tell you the most information in the most “plain” language way. If you have time, read the charts, but don’t stress about reading the whole article. Use the same strategy of highlighting small sections you feel comfortable bringing up in a class discussion.
Tips for Specific/ Supplemental Books
In addition to your textbook, many professors assign reading from books. For example, in a political philosophy class you may have a textbook, but you may also have to read Plato’s Republic. Often these are books that are “original sources,” and therefore often harder to comprehend. Reading something like Shakespeare, or a Greek play can really be a waste of time if you’re barely comprehending what you are reading. In these cases, the internet and reading guides are your best friend. Websites like Spark notes and Quizlet are awesome. However, because you are barely reading out of your book, be sure to gather A LOT of information from reading guides online to really get a good understanding.