With finals rolling around, students in colleges all around the country are starting to cram for their final exams. While this approach may yield some solid final performances (and a lot of sleepless nights), cramming is the wrong way to approach college studies.
For most students, each semester starts the same way. You enroll in new classes and decide that this will be the semester that you get organized and start working on assignments early. It will be the semester where you read the textbook on time and follow the homework timeline for each class. While these promises are noble in spirit, unfortunately they are rarely acted upon. Extracurriculars, games, and a host of other distractions get in the way and, before you know it, it is the first midterm. You are left with no other option left besides cramming – so students do so and sometimes, perform decently on the test.
The aftermath? You swear you will start reading on time to avoid cramming!
If this sounds familiar, it’s because this happens for the grand majority of students on college campuses. While it may be a solid short term solution, over the long term cramming have harmful effects overall. Here is why you should not procrastinate and how cramming actually can hurt you in your college studies.
- Cramming does not allow for students to truly understand and internalize the material. College is not just about getting high scores on tests, it’s about the process of higher education. Learning interesting and engaging material for the sake of learning is part of college, and cramming inhibits this ability. Instead it takes these subjects that are full of fascinating content, and reduces it into bite sized pieces that one learns for a test.
- College is the place where you learn things that you never would have – take advantage. Whether it is Art History, the conquests of the Middle Ages, or the complicated mathematics in an algorithm – college is the place to learn a variety of things in our diverse world. While learning unique material is not every student’s main objective in college, keep in mind that you are already in class – so take full advantage of the opportunity! If you cram, you memorize something for a day, whereas spacing out reading over a semester allows for one to keep the knowledge and critical thinking ability intact for much longer.
- If you rush to cram material instead of truly learning it, then you may be at a disadvantage when you start your career. Many students take structured courses in engineering, accounting, and architecture that teach essential building blocks for the profession. Countless professors harp on this point, making it clear that it doesn’t matter what you do in the classroom, it’s about knowing how to apply the concepts in the real world to much more complex problems. Be sure to really take time and focus in on these specialized subjects that you may want to use in your future career. Outside of college is when you will notice these benefits, so be sure to take the time to study and really understand how concepts work.
These are just three examples of the many ways in which cramming can be a very harmful practice to one’s overall learning experience and time in college. A much easier way to avoid cramming is not to look at the semester as a whole, but make smaller week by week goals. These manageable chunks are less daunting and more easily achievable. Once you’re able to manage these smaller goals, it will be much easier when handling readings and practice sets and you will certainly be ready for whatever is to come on examinations!
Eliminate procrastination. This is the proper way to do college.
Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.