Coffee cup & pen on table with note reading Break Bad Habits, Build Good Habits

College Students' Quick Guide to Health: Developing Good Habits

In part three of this series, get organized and on the right track to feeling better in college by managing your time and finding your ideal study style.

Developing healthy habits and sticking to them is admittedly difficult. They can feel strenuous and overwhelming to upkeep, which is a big reason why so many of us have trouble starting them! This is especially true for habits that have to do with school. But developing good academic habits in college is essential for setting future you up for success and staying healthy, both mentally and physically. With the right mindset, some self-awareness of your capabilities and limits, and goals to keep you motivated, making good habits stick gets a whole lot easier. Here are a few key skills and areas you should focus on to help you as a student.

Time management

One good habit that is one of the most difficult to develop is time management. Procrastination is incredibly common among students—and incredibly hard to get out of. While it may feel satisfying to finish a large project all at once, it’s not good for our mental well-being or work ethic; we then develop a pattern of thinking that all difficult tasks can and/or should be completed in a short period of time. Couple this with the feelings of anxiety procrastinating creates and our brains learn to not feel any urgency or motivation to do a task until the due date is close and immediate.

To help prevent this vicious cycle and develop productive time management habits, you must first and foremost admit that you struggle with time management and take accountability for your actions. The more you excuse it, the more time it will take for you to curb the habit. Studying with a group is one way to help hold yourself accountable because you'll have peers to help keep you on task. However, if you're like me and end up talking to the other person the entire time when you’re supposed to be studying, there are other methods you can try. By changing your study environment from your bed or dorm to the library or your desk, you’ll set up a pattern of associating the space you're in with work, which can keep you motivated. It's also helpful to set realistic goals and make lists; that way, you’ll have something to achieve and have the satisfaction of physically crossing items off.

Related: 4 Techniques to Improve Your Time Management

Studying and learning

Another healthy habit that’s beneficial to any student is to find a study style that fits you. An editorial by the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences lists 10 study methods to help students learn. Let’s focus on just four of them: Retrieval Practice, Spaced Practice, the PQ4R Method, and the Feynman Technique.

  • Retrieval Practice involves utilizing practice tests, writing questions on your notes then revisiting to answer them, and flashcards. Through practice and review, you can build your information-retrieval skills, preventing the “I know the answer, but I can't remember it” phenomenon.
  • The Spaced Practice Method is a lengthier way of studying because it involves reviewing what you’ve learned in intervals. For example, day one could be spent learning the content, day two could be reviewing your notes and writing questions, day three is revisiting and answering those questions and coming up with new ones, and so forth.
  • The PQ4R Method stands for Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, and Review. Skim what you're studying and get the main ideas down, then question the topic and ask yourself what you already know. Next, read the content, reflect on the knowledge you gained, and write a summary in your own words. Lastly, review it to see if you have any outstanding questions that haven't been answered yet.
  • The Feynman Technique involves explaining the subject as if you were teaching it. Either write it down or speak aloud (if you speak aloud, try recording it). Afterward, read or listen back and identify the points you missed and the ones you got wrong. Identifying the weak points in your learning instead of focusing on what you remember is essential to a well-rounded study schedule.


Another difficult but beneficial habit to get into in college is organization. There are many different types of organization, including physical (cleaning your desk/workspace), digital (organizing digital documents into files or using flash drives), and mental (making lists and color coding). All are helpful, and it's best to first figure out what method of organization you adhere to the most. You can find a bunch of scheduling techniques and tips online, but according to Indeed, one particularly helpful method of organization is time blocking, or allotting a certain amount of time to a certain task. You should take the time constraints you create seriously but also understand that time blocking is not a concrete method—it's meant to be flexible and allow for last-minute changes and requests. Taking, say, an hour to read a chapter for your English class and 30 minutes to take notes gives you a schedule that is easy to follow. If you're a student who benefits from having a set schedule, this method could be perfect for you.

If you’re a more visual person, it can be helpful to make a list or use color coding to stay organized. That way, what you have to do for the day is out and “in your face,” acting as a consistent reminder. Personally, I like to put each task for the day on an individual sticky note (e.g., one sticky note for “English chapter 3 reading,” another for “Spanish vocabulary review,” and so on). Throughout the day, once I've completed each task, I take the sticky note off the wall and throw it away. With this method, you get the physical reward of removing or crossing out a task, and you also get to see the number of assignments you have dwindle, allowing for a more immediate feeling of accomplishment.

Related: 5 Easy Ways to Get Organized in College

College is difficult, there’s no doubt about it. Between studying for tests, reading a surplus of material for each class, writing long research papers, and getting up for 8:00 am labs, it can be hard to keep your own health in check. Not feeling like you have enough time for yourself is one of the most challenging aspects of any academic environment. However, with patience, self-awareness, accountability, and an understanding of your strengths and limits, the weight of academic stress will begin to slack. With a healthy body, a clear mind, and good academic habits, you’ll be able to better manage and enjoy this new, wonderful part of your life. As a result, young adulthood will feel less overwhelming and more exciting.

Did you catch the first two parts of this series? Learn more about taking care of your body and prioritizing your mental health in college—you don’t want to miss this important advice!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Emma Robinson

Emma Robinson is 18 years old and currently attending Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania as an intended Professional Writing major. She enjoys both professional and creative writing and would love a career in content writing or editing. Ideally, she would like to author books when she's older and has more experience with writing as a profession. Emma's favorite genres include contemporary fantasy, high fantasy, and creative nonfiction, though she also enjoys research and writing informative nonfiction pieces.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Kyla McClain

Kyla McClain

High School Class of 2024

I found CollegeXpress when you partnered with for a scholarship. I found your website, put my information in, and got connected. I only wanted to stay in North Carolina [for college] and not move far from home, but you all opened a door up for me. I started researching colleges you suggested for me. On your social media platforms, you also give really good test-taking tips that I used and suggested others to do the same. It helped me a lot on my exams, so thank you.



High School Class of 2023

I’m currently a college freshman attending Towson University. My major is Information Technology, and I plan to minor in Electronic Media & Film to achieve my goal of becoming a production engineer. Upon graduating high school earlier this year, I was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from CollegeXpress, which greatly assisted in paying my tuition. Truthfully, this financial reward was the difference in affording my room and board and tuition, along with other expenses for school. My family and I haven’t stopped celebrating my award since it was bestowed on me. I will never forget this opportunity for allowing me to get my foot into my university financially.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find the school I am currently attending by consistently sending me emails of other schools. This allowed me to do research on other schools as well as the one I am in now!

Makiyah Murray

Makiyah Murray

High School Class of 2021

The college application process has been a stressful one, but CollegeXpress has eased some of that stress with its readily available college resources. At the beginning of the process, I frequently used the college search feature, and now that I’m almost done applying, I’ve started using the scholarship search. Both of these resources have made it easier to find relevant information.

Farrah Macci

Farrah Macci

High School Class of 2016

CollegeXpress has helped me in many ways. For one, online searches are more organized and refined by filtering scholarships through by my personal and academic interests. Due to this, it has made searching for colleges and scholarships significantly less stressful. As a student, life can already get stressful pretty quickly. For me, it’s been helpful to utilize CollegeXpress since it keeps all of my searches and likes together, so I don’t have to branch out on multiple websites just to explore scholarship options.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Kean University

Union, NJ

Wagner College

Staten Island, NY

The College of Idaho

Caldwell, ID