For me, what works for college:
- Do my work at the college as much as possible. The environment keeps me on track, I find a corner in the quiet sections of the library with a computer. Homework, research, etc. It all gets done at the college directly after the class if I can help it, generally my schedule worked thusly: arrive a bit early and study, Harder class early afternoon, 2 hour break for homework or studying, easier class evening, more homework and study. Rinse and repeat the next two days with the same classes, and 1 non-memorization-intensive class (like English) the fifth day followed by 2 hours dedicated to homework and study for the class.
- Bring a snack to class to stay alert and alive. Water helps too.
- Participate actively in the class, and take every assignment as seriously as you would a test. Treat it like a test you can ask questions in. Being active in class is the best study method ever imo.
- Arrive early and leave late. Every time.
- Sleep. A ton. Make sure you really set time aside to get a good 8 hours (at least) of rest. Don't sleep TOO much, but get CONSISTENT sleep at the same hours each night as much as possible.
- Once you get the syllabus for each class, combine them all and create an "important dates" calendar of assignments due for all the classes and post like 10 of them everywhere. I had one on my bathroom mirror next to where I get ready in the morning, one in my car, one taped to each notebook, and a picture of one on my phone.
- Never go out the night before school. Schedule college in the same manner as a work schedule--especially if you have a work schedule as well. Make sure you set yourself up for success with at least one night being available before a day you have off. That way, if you go have a social life, you can recover the next day. I went to school 5 days a week, with a short Friday to get things done and go out--Saturday to recover, and Sunday to get some household things done and errands before the week ahead of me.
- Speaking of, Recover. Make sure you have an 'off' day for yourself. Do your homework, research papers, school work, exercising, cooking, etc. during the days you're up and moving anyways. Having a day you KNOW youll get to relax, even if you created it yourself, is very necessary. Don't put things off until that day, make it a priority.
- Speed read assignments. No one is going to read a chapter and memorize it the first time. It's pointless and a waste of time. Speed read through the chapter, highlighting things you find important along the way (don't paint the damn thing yellow, just a word here and there). Do the quizzes in the back of the chapter from memory as much as possible. After that, look up the answers and check them all. After that, go through again and just take notice of what the paragraphs are called and what they are talking about and understand what it is highlighting and explaining. Take notes of these things in your notebook. When you need to reference a concept, you'll know the general area to find it in. The things that keep getting emphasized in class and in the quizzes are the things that you'll need to know the most for decent grades. Just 'reading' a chapter is almost never going to work in your favor and takes just as long as this method.
- Finally, exercise. At least 30 minutes a day, pop in a DVD or go down to the gym they have available for students and get some movement. I usually went after my homework for my last class. When you're mentally drained, getting that adrenaline going and that blood moving keeps you from feeling sluggish and perks you up for the rest of the day. Which, coincidentally, keeps you from procrastinating on other tasks.
This is what helps me anyways, and the principles I intend to follow next semester when I am doing self-study books and programs to prepare me for university. When I followed these principles, I was never stressed about college outside of Finals (which I stress about no matter what) and I did focus on some other rules and principles for studying which I've posted elsewhere I believe.