What is "learn hard and learn smart"

First-year students take note: 11 fundamental tips for studying that every first-year student should know

by Tim Reichel

Many freshmen start their time at university believing that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, it won't. Even if you did well at school and have a great high school diploma, that doesn't mean that you can study successfully.

Not all studies are the same as school - but before most first-year students have understood this inequality, it is already too late: If you do not take your studies seriously and do it professionally, you will fail faster than you can say “de-registration”.

And that's sad.

But don't worry: it's up to you to take control as early as possible in your studies and to set the course for success. It is your decision whether you wait and see how things develop, or whether you shape your student life according to your own wishes and preferences right from the start.

In this article, I'll show you what to look out for.


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Every freshman should know these tips

Without further ado - follow these tips and you will get off to an optimal start with your studies:


1. Take your studies seriously!

If you want to study successfully and happily, you have to invest a whole lot of time and energy in your new phase of life, especially as a new student. You have to take your studies seriously and fully engage with it. Because: Mainly your attitude determines the success of your studies and forms the basis for a fulfilling student life. You can only make the most of your time at the university if you approach your new challenge with the right inner attitude.

Of course it will be annoying in between when the hard everyday university life takes hold of you, but in the end you do exactly what you want to do: study. You want to learn something. You want that degree. And just because taking a few small steps towards your big goal is inconvenient doesn't mean you can whine or give up. You knew beforehand that it would not be easy - but you are strong enough to make it anyway.

Every time it becomes particularly stressful or uncomfortable while studying, you must not forget that you made a conscious decision to study. Perhaps you didn't know 100 percent what to expect, but you have the privilege of being able to choose how to shape your life. Nobody forces you to study. You lead a self-determined life and are free to decide how to organize your time. And within the framework of this freedom you have decided to study. With all the advantages, but also all the consequences.

To do: Take your studies seriously and make it clear to yourself that you are doing exactly what you want to do!



2. Plan your studies!

Do you always have a plan in mind or are you someone who likes to live into the day and lets things come to you? Both are totally okay. During your studies, however, haphazard behavior and disoriented studying around can cause bigger problems than you might think. Without a general plan, you miss great opportunities, don't get enough of your studies and often fall short of your possibilities.

Specifically, this means: you overlook interesting subjects, miss important semester dates and later jump chaotically from exam to exam. Of course, you have far too little time to study every time. You had long wanted to have organized the semester abroad in South America, but somehow you no longer had it on your screen. That went stupid, right? No, badly planned!

Therefore, at the beginning of your studies, make a plan for your time at university, write down your goals and try to plan the most important stations in advance - at least roughly. Think through your studies and do not study in a disoriented way. With a plan you determine your course of study yourself and you can use your freedoms as a student much better!

You just live and study without a plan. The problem with this is: at some point you will lose control. You then only save yourself from deadline to deadline, miss one important appointment after the other and get bad grades. That's why you need a common thread that guides you through your studies in a relaxed but targeted manner and makes your daily work easier.

To do: Plan your studies and shape your future yourself - don't just let yourself drift!



3. Become a self manager

High demands are placed on today's first-year students. It is not enough that you are smart, have a quick grasp, and can memorize well. Something else is much more important: You have to be able to organize your entire student life skillfully and keep track of things. You have to manage your studies wisely and look good outside of your lectures as well. You are responsible for these tasks - nobody will do them for you.

Your university provides you with the content - what you make of it is up to you. Nobody will take you by the hand and show you step by step how to get lectures, study units, part-time jobs, parties and everyday life under one roof. As a student, you have to take care of everything yourself and see how you get along. If you hope that someone will show you how to work in a structured manner or study productively, you are on the wrong track.

You can wait a long time for your college to give you a hand and teach you how to be a good student. But she doesn't mean it badly. You should become independent - and under the given circumstances you have no other choice. It is only important that you are aware of your new role from the beginning of your studies. Make it clear to yourself right from the start that you have to work independently and organize your everyday life independently. The sooner you get used to it, the better you will find your way around your studies.

To do: Make yourself aware that you are responsible for the organization and structure of your everyday student life and take on your new role as self-manager!



4. Use your time wisely!

Against all odds: As a student, you have little time. Studying is a full-time job. During the lecture period you rush from one university event to the next, struggling through scripts and books. You may also have a student job and have to look after your apartment.

If you then have to write a thesis or have other obligations, there is even less free time left. After the lectures it doesn't get any better, because now the exams are coming. For you that means: endlessly long exam preparation, learning to the limit of pain and a lot of exam stress.

Once your studies have really picked up speed, your schedule will be full - right up to the top. It feels like a completed task creates five new items on your to-do list. The way you deal with time becomes an important key component in your everyday life and the number 1 success factor.

Therefore, you need to focus on the important things and study productively. You mustn't lose track and waste your time. You have to plan your free resources wisely and become a self-employed time manager. Because solid time management is your ticket to relaxed and successful studies. If you manage your time cleverly and plan a little bit, you will immediately have more free time and will finally get the grades you deserve.

To do: Become your own time manager and divide your time wisely! Make a plan for the next week and reserve time slots for your most important tasks!



5. Learn with a system!

If you just start learning during your studies, you won't get very far. You may get through the first few weeks and months with no concept. But at the latest when things get serious during the exam preparation, you will quickly reach your limits. Then what you need is a strategy. A solution with which you can get all the material into your head quickly and elegantly - because you cannot afford unproductive alibi learning.

Therefore, you need a smart approach to make your learning units as promising as possible. You need a learning strategy, a system that you can use for orientation. When used sensibly, learning strategies give you security during your studies - the security you need to start learning and see it through to the end.

Learning strategies give shape to your learning process. They ensure that you always know exactly what to do. You work your way step by step until your learning content is in place and you can go to the exam well prepared. However, you have to find your own system first.

And that's why you have to start looking as early as possible: Which learning methods work best for you? How can you acquire important content as quickly as possible and which techniques do not work for you? Are you more of the analog or the digital learner type? Do you prefer to study in the morning or in the evening? In a group or alone? Experiment a little at the beginning of your studies and find your own system.

To do: Learn according to a system and find out which learning strategies work best for you!


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6. Take every exam seriously!

No matter how well your semester goes: As soon as your exams are due, the cards are shuffled anew - every semester. It no longer matters whether your lectures went well, the professor thought your homework was great or you did well in your internship. If you fail your exam phase successfully, a whole academic year suffers.

If you want to take something countable with you, you have to pass your exams well. But you will only succeed if you take them seriously - each and every one of them. Do not listen to older fellow students telling you about this or that “easy” exam; Do not rely on such testimonials. Because as soon as you underestimate an examination and only study it slowly, you have already lost the fight and will later receive the receipt for it.

Don't get me wrong: Confidence is important. But overconfidence breaks your neck. In your studies and in your whole life. Of course, you have to believe in yourself and approach your tasks with confidence, but if you are arrogant and overestimate your abilities, you are harming yourself.

Never make the mistake that many freshmen make, and take an exam or even an entire exam period lightly. Do not underestimate the challenges you face during your studies, but approach every situation with the necessary respect and professionalism.

To do: Make it clear to yourself that every exam is important and never underestimate your exam phase!



7. Read your exam regulations!

Think of your studies as a board game in which the aim is that you and your fellow students achieve a university degree. As a freshman, you're at the start - just before your first move. In the course of time, tasks have to be solved (exams) and points collected (credit points). At the end, when you have earned enough points, you will meet your boss (thesis) and fight for your degree in the final.

So that it stays fair and nobody cheats, you only need one thing now: rules of the game. And it is precisely these rules of the game that are reflected in your examination regulations. A bit dry and unnecessarily complicated in some places - but the rules of the game remain.

For you, your examination regulations are the most important document in the entire course of study. That means: If you are smart and want to study reasonably smart, you should read your examination regulations and know their contents. Regardless of whether you are enrolled in a Bachelor, Master, Magister or Diploma course; Regardless of whether you are studying law, math, mechanical engineering, business administration or to become a teacher: your examination regulations set the framework for your studies.

It forms the legal framework for your degree program and defines the rules according to which you study. Only if you know your examination regulations will you be able to plan your studies sensibly and avoid unnecessary hassle.

To do: Download the current version of your examination regulations from your university's website and read them through!



8. Create productive framework conditions!

Studying is not primarily about who can learn best and who has the best memory. It's about methods, about technology. But very few work on this technology. But if you manage to shape your everyday life in such a way that you can study productively and with motivation, success will come naturally at some point.

But first you have to correctly determine the framework conditions for this; you have to learn how to choose your daily resources correctly and then use them efficiently when necessary. You have to have all areas of your student life under control and meticulously ensure that all gears interlock logically. If you don't succeed, sooner or later you will sink into chaos.

Even the most intelligent and hard-working students fail at university because they don't see the big picture and can't manage their daily tasks in such a way that they can study productively. They fail on themselves - not because they are bad students, but because they are bad managers.

And that's why you have to use your resources wisely and strategically. Divide your time and energy so that in the end you can study successfully and have a happy student life. Design your everyday life in such a way that it provides you with everything you need for high performance and at the same time make sure that you stay fit and satisfied.

To do: Make it clear to yourself what resources you need for a successful and happy student life!



9. Don't be fooled into talent!

Talent and intelligence are overrated. At least when it comes to studying successfully and completing it with a very good certificate. Don't get me wrong: it's great when you are intelligent. A healthy dose of brains enriches your life and can open some doors for you. But you don't necessarily need that for a successful degree.

You don't have to be a Marie Curie or Albert Einstein if you want to pass university. Other qualities count for a university degree. Studying is hard work and, in addition to self-discipline and perseverance, particularly requires the ability to organize and learn effectively.

Without a clever and structured approach, you will simply drown in many courses and be overwhelmed by the learning material. But the good thing about it is: You are a freshman and you can still learn a lot. It's not about having innate talent and excessive intelligence. It's about working hard for your success, skillfully setting priorities and not being discouraged by the seemingly insurmountable learning content. Intelligence is helpful in studying and makes many challenges easier - but it is of secondary importance.

To do: Realize that you don't have to be intelligent to study successfully!



10. Train yourself to strong behavior patterns!

The bulk of your success in college depends on what habits you develop. One-time actions may give you a short motivational boost, but this is usually gone as quickly as it came.

If you create a learning plan just once before your exam and thus start work on time, it may help you with this one exam - but the positive effect disappears immediately afterwards. However, if you plan your daily activities throughout the semester and approach each exam preparation strategically, your performance curve will go through the roof.

If you manage to regularly integrate behavior patterns that are good for your studies into your everyday life, you will study more successfully and happily in the long term than you ever imagined. You will do more and still have less stress. Because stress arises not from the things that you have done, but from what you have not done.

For this reason, especially as a freshman, you have to be consistent and develop positive habits. But this does not work at the push of a button and is associated with work, because without constant practice and repetition your new habits will not be anchored in your subconscious. The effort will be worth it, however, because if these behavior patterns are established and run almost automatically, they are the guarantee for your study success.

To do: Determine a new behavior pattern and integrate it into your everyday life! Take the action for 30 days!



11. Be your own cheerleader!

Studying can be tough at times and take a lot of strength. You will be pushed to your limits every semester and you will have to surpass yourself - otherwise your grades will fall by the wayside and you can get rid of your degree.Nevertheless, almost half a million overjoyed graduates are handed their university certificates every year.

Not because it was easy or because they ate the wisdom with spoons, but because they stuck with it. Even when it was tough. They believed in success and kept their motivation even in difficult phases. You have managed to persuade yourself and kick your own bum over and over again.

You too have to do this if you want to study successfully. Because what really matters in the course is a solid strategy, perseverance and especially the ability to constantly motivate yourself. Be your own cheerleader and keep yourself on the road to success. If you can work persistently towards your goals, you will have a contented and happy student life.

Nobody will take on the role of motivational speaker for you. Nobody will cheer you continuously or cheer you on from outside in annoying phases so that you can still get the corner. You have to make sure that you tackle your problems and face your challenges with a positive attitude. Only then will you achieve something at university.

To do: Make it clear to yourself how important it is to have a positive attitude towards studying and the ability to motivate yourself!


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This is how you will go from a freshman to a successful student

Most students plan a lot, especially at the beginning of the semester and their studies. But unfortunately they only last for two weeks and then fall over in a row. Why is that? Most people believe that if you believe in it strongly enough, a problem will solve itself. A little hint from practice: Nothing will come of it.

And it doesn't matter how hard you try mentally - that alone won't bring you much, because without the necessary (and above all sustained) action, nothing, absolutely nothing, will change. Call your difficulties by name, concentrate on the solution, and tackle directly. Don't hesitate too long, take action.

In general, you can study in two ways: Either you let yourself be told what you have to do and allow outside influences to determine your path, or you take your studies into your own hands and become a doer. The advantage of self-determined studies: freedom. The disadvantage: work. But the effort will be worth it.

Only if you act proactively as a freshman will you lead a successful and contented student life. It doesn't matter if you make mistakes - the main thing is that you learn from your experiences. This is the only way you can grow continuously and develop a strong personality. And that's exactly what makes you a happy and satisfied person in the long term.



It is not easy for first-year students. Nobody shows them how studying works; no one explains to them how to build happy and prosperous student lives. But from today this is no longer a problem for you, because from now on you take your studies into your own hands.

Take the 11 tips to heart and do at least one of the to-dos right now! Get active and don't just let yourself drift through your studies. If you need help or further inspiration with this, then I have something nice for you: first-aid help.

In my book - especially for new students, but also for old students - I have put together 112 tips for you with which you can build up a gradual degree. The 11 tips above are partly excerpts from my book and only give you a small foretaste of what awaits you in the full version.

Here you can download the first 31 pages as a free XXL reading sample:

To the reading sample (click!)

And here it goes directly to the book:

To the first aid (click!)

Your studies can be the best time of your life - you just have to make sure that it turns out that way.

I will help you with it.


Image: © André Spieker / unsplash.com