How Much Time Should I Spend Studying in College?

Setting Aside Study Time Can Make It Easier to Manage a Busy Schedule

Young man studying in university library
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There's no "right" way to study in college. Even students who have the same majors and take the same classes won't need to spend the same amount of time on coursework because everyone has their own way of learning. That being said, there's a common rule of thumb students and professors use to determine how much time to allocate for studying in college: For each hour you spend in class, you should spend two to three hours studying outside of class.

How Should I Study?

Of course, that "outside of class" studying can take on different forms: You might take the "traditional" approach to studying by sitting in your room, poring over a textbook or reading assignment. Or perhaps you'll spend time online or in the library further researching topics your professor mentioned in class. Maybe you'll have a lot of lab work to do or a group project that requires meeting other students after class.

The point is studying can take many forms. And, of course, some classes require students to work outside of class a lot more time than others. Focus more on what sort of studying will help you complete your necessary coursework and get the most out of your education, rather than trying to meet a specific study-hours quota.

Why Should I Track How Much I Study?

While prioritizing the quality over the quantity of your study time is more likely to help you accomplish your academic goals, it's smart to keep track of how much time you spend doing it. First of all, knowing how much time to spend studying in college can help you gauge if you're spending enough time on your academics. For example, if you're not performing well on exams or assignments — or you get negative feedback from a professor — you can reference the amount of time you've spent studying to determine the best way to proceed: You could try spending more time studying for that class to see if it improves your performance. Conversely, if you've already invested a lot of time in that course, perhaps your poor grades are an indication it's not an area of study that suits you.

Beyond that, tracking how you study can also help you with time management, a skill all college students need to develop. (It's pretty handy in the real world, too.) Ideally, understanding your out-of-class workload can help you avoid cramming for exams or pulling all-nighters to meet an assignment deadline. Those approaches are not only stressful, but they're often not very productive either.

The better you understand how much time it takes you to engage with and comprehend the course material, the more likely you are to reach your academic goals. Think of it this way: You've already invested a lot of time and money going to class, so you might as well figure out how much time you need to do everything necessary for getting that diploma.

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Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How Much Time Should I Spend Studying in College?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2020, August 25). How Much Time Should I Spend Studying in College? Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How Much Time Should I Spend Studying in College?" ThoughtCo. (accessed May 31, 2023).