First year college student gives study tips and homework hacks 

Halfway through September, the initial rush of moving into college- either for the first time or the fourth time- is fading away. Orientation and welcome back events have come to an end. The time has come to get back to the library stacks. 

Natalie Diaz, a Southington resident and third year student, was a teacher’s assistant (TA) for Religion 212 at Trinity College. Her biggest piece of advice: keep up with readings. 

“Even if you can’t finish everything, at least have an understanding of what will be discussed in class so you can participate,” she shared. Diaz also recommended keeping a well organized schedule and practicing time management.

For her own work, she utilizes a digital calendar, color-coordinating each class. 

“The best way to tackle a big reading is to split it up,” Diaz recommended. Having a printed copy of work is best, she says, allowing you to highlight and take notes as you go.

Diaz also adds questions in her notes, allowing her to engage deeper with the reading and class discussions. 

Educators also recommend paper copies, while others require it. Like Diaz, they note a difference in what students actually read and absorb. Many also highly recommend writing notes by hand.

Notes can later be typed up for convenience. While some may keep a virtual folder of these documents, others type their notes directly into Quizlet, a virtual flashcard website that generates study activities and practice assessments.

Professor Kelly P. Dugan, PhD, is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Classical Studies at Trinity College. Her second year at the college, she is ​​also a Community Learning Faculty Fellow. Dugan’s teaching style stresses honesty and openness, a skill also helpful for studying.

“It is not shameful to not know,” she said, encouraging students to identify what they are struggling with, then be unafraid to ask for help.

Colleges often offer topic specific tutoring groups and professors, as well as TAs, host office hours, where students can gain assistance, either one-on-one or in a small group. Peer work groups are also highly recommended, motivating students to think outside the box and use teamwork skills.

“Encourage yourself and your friends and classmates. Celebrate every little win like your friend saying an awesome answer in class, praise them, share the joy, and keep positive energy going,” Dugan says. 

Students often enjoy working in public areas, like a school’s quad, library, or on campus coffee shop, where they feel support from all around.

Like Diaz, Dugan also suggested breaking down work into smaller sections. 

“By intentionally thinking and talking about what the tiniest units of a topic are and then intentionally connecting them to the largest units of the topic you can more easily see the relevance of anything you are studying,” she said, “and that helps you remember it more and put it to use in context.” 

Sammi Bray is a first year student at Trinity College in Hartford. She is studying public policy and law, with a minor in rhetoric, writing and media studies. She has been freelancing for the Record-Journal since June. You can contact her at


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