What Are Study Skills and Why They’re Useful
Whether a student attends a public school or a private school, that student will learn the basic academic skills to be a productive member of society, such as Language Arts, math, science, and various social studies like history or civics. Most students will teach levels beyond the basics, and some, by the time they attend high school, will achieve advanced levels in these topics. Whether a student strives for top academic honors or is merely interested in graduating in order to take the next step into the workforce, all students must be exposed to and master certain academic skills.
To achieve success in those academic areas, student need to accomplish a few tasks. Students must attend class, complete homework assignments, take tests and quizzes of various kinds, finish projects, and manage their workload. Unfortunately, schools, whether public or private, are generally not as well equipped to teach students the skills they need to study successfully as they are to teach academic topics. The skills needed to do the academic work are called study skills.
Study skills include concepts such as organization and time management, developing a personal learning style, note-taking, studying effectively, and working effectively with teachers. Except at a few specific schools or in classes with a rare teacher, students do not generally learn these skills in school. With rare exceptions, there are no classes in either public or private schools that teach study skills. Students are expected to develop these skills on their own.
Unfortunately, many students do not develop effective study skills on their own. All students develop study habits, whether they realize they are doing so or not. These study habits many be counterproductive, though. I have spoken and worked with countless families in which the parents complained of their students doing homework while watching television, for example. That is a study habit. It is just not a good one.
Developing positive study habits takes conscious effort, self-discipline, and hard work. Most people, adults included, have a difficult time doing this on their own. First, it is often difficult to observe one’s own behavior. Second, people are often comfortable with their habits, making it difficult to change them, even when we know we must.
Despite the difficulties posed by changing habits, developing strong study skills is essential for success in school and professional life. Every person reaches a point in life, whether that is the transition to middle school, high school, college, or professional life, where it is too challenging to keep track of everything and accomplish everything without a plan for doing so. That’s where study skills come in.
One of the most important study skills is organization. Within seconds, I can find a meme on the internet proclaiming that a messy desk is a sign of a highly developed mind, and sure, that may be true. In the real world, though, getting organized develops a powerful set of skills that allows students and adults alike to accomplish complex tasks in a methodical and efficient manner. Also, getting organized means more than just having a tidy desk. It involves everything from dealing with multiple workspaces at school, job, and/or home and in the digital realm as well.
Along with organization, time management is also essential to developing positive study habits that serve a person through school life into professional life. Time management can begin with as simple a tool as a calendar, but involves so much more. Knowing where and when things are can help students and adults achieve goals, complete tasks, and accomplish goals both big and small.
These skills are just the beginning of the process of developing positive study habits. Each skill takes time to learn, but ultimately saves time and energy in the long run. And that is what study skills are all about: building an efficient and effective process that allows you to accomplish all of your work while opening up time for the fun things in life.