1 The first thing I tell students is that college is a full time job and it should be treated as such.

In American high school, class hours are usually from 8am-3pm with 4060 minutes for lunch. That’s 6 hours per day 5 days per week of class time (30 hours/week) then students do homework and studying of various amounts, which is usually minimal (2 hours per day is pushing it at most high schools, but obviously there are exceptions). So let’s say 40 hours per week.

In University a typical schedule is 4 classes with 3 hours of lecture, one or 2 of which would have non-mandatory small group sessions of 2 hours per week. So that is only 16 hours of class time. So if you are not putting in 24 hours per week outside of class then you are working less than was expected of you in high school. And high school is supposed to be easier than college.

Most professors at MIT (where I went) expected 3 hours of outside work per hour of lecture in order for students to have a basic (B level) understanding of the material. So at a minimum they expected 48 hours per week devoted to your formal education.

Most students who did well that I knew put in closer to 60 hours per week.

So if you are not doing that, then perhaps that is limiting your success.

2 Sleep

If you don’t sleep enough then your mind cannot process information well enough to be as productive as you could be.

Sleeping after drinking alcohol is not as restful as sleep without alcohol. This is well established science because REM sleep is depressed.

3 There are 168 hours in a week

If you don’t think you have enough time for 1 and 2 then you are forgetting about all of the nonproductive time. 8 hours/day x 7 days = 56 hours of sleep + 60 hours of work = 116 hours per week. Then you still have 52 hours per week to travel, eat, drink, play, and be merry.

So put yourself on a schedule. Do small chunks of work regularly and you will be amazed at your mastery of the material.

This answer originally appeared on this Quora question on Studying.


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