What habits create the best experience as a student?
Are you a student or soon to be?
And do you find it difficult to balance studies, social events, and parties?
Life as a student is a mixture of challenges and rewards. Maybe this is your first time moving from home, or you’re off studying in a new city or even a new country.
In this article, we take a deep dive into the student life and reveal 33 University habits that will elevate you towards the best student experience.
I will start by telling you a story.
It’s a late September night back in 2015 and I’m attending one of my first novisch parties.
This is my very first week as an engineering student at Lunds University and everything is equally terrifying and exciting at the same time.
The stereo blasts Peanut Butter Jelly and my new found friends are debating whether two bounces means two cups or not in the ongoing beer pong game.
This is when I find myself in conversation with an older student, giving me his ramble about what to expect, what to avoid, and what to drink in my coming student adventures.
I particularly remember this line from our conversation, when he leans in, as to tell me something very important.
He told me… “André, you will have 3 types of friends; friends you study with, friends you hang out with, and friends you party with.”
The life of a student could in a way be summarized in these 3 areas;
- Study life
- Social life
- Party life
Being conscious about
- how to pursue these areas,
- what friends you make in each of the areas,
- as well as what habits you develop in each area,
is a sure way to get the most out of your student life!
Maybe you meet people that you can both study, hang out, and party with. Those friends might be your closest.
But, it’s more often the case that the friends you like to party with might not be the best to study with. And the friends you study well with might not be the most fun to party with.
From my time as a student, I’ve also discovered that developing certain habits in my life has elevated not only my studies but also my social life as well as my overall well-being and mood in general.
Study Life vs Social Life
Life as a student is all about exploring and developing yourself, not only within your field of study but in your social circle and your inner confidence.
After being a student for 5 years I don’t think back on all the time I spent studying, like “ah what a wonderful time”.
The times I remember and that puts a smile on my face is when I was engaged and did something fun or challenging with others, like being a mentor for other students, going to proms and sittings, working for student organizations, or exciting side-projects.
Those things have created the memories I want to have from my time as a student.
But of course, studying is a big part of being a student, I would be lying if I told you otherwise.
However, the truth is that you rarely need to study as much as you think, as long as you develop decent study habits.
I know this for a fact since I’m doing my last year on my master’s in engineering now and quite frankly, I have spent less and less time on my studies every semester.
That’s not because my courses became any less challenging, quite the opposite, but I’ve started to learn how to study more effectively and to my best abilities.
Good study habits have made it possible for me to, for example, study at a 150% pace at times, having 2 part-time jobs whilst studying and working on side projects such as the board game Stable Manager, and of course Habithon.
Maybe it’s your first time going to university, or maybe you’ve studied for a couple of years. Regardless to say, finding the perfect balance between study life, social life and the party life is tricky.
Thankfully, this article will reveal 33 University Habits to get the perfect balance and experience the ultimate student life.
These student habits are the ones I think are best for getting the most out of my study, social, and party life.
1. Remember Parkinson’s Law
If you plan to study for 8 hours, you will most likely not be that effective. Talking from my own experience, when I have a lot of time to spend on a study task I tend to prioritize badly and give attention to unnecessary details and distractions.
Try scheduling shorter study sessions to increase your effectiveness and save time!
2. Learn by Teaching
Study with people that you have a bit of an advantage of, maybe you read the chapter before or you are simply more interested in the subject.
You will gain the learning value of explaining to the study partners that are not yet on your level.
3. Trade Skills
Just accept that you’ll most likely be better at some subjects and worse in others.
Don’t be afraid to help study partners in a subject you’re naturally more talented or interested in.
They will most likely return the favor when the tables are turned.
4. Plan Your Study Sessions
Basically, don’t use your gut feeling to decide when to study.
Plan a study session each day for 30 – 120 minutes, depending on your workload, and do it as early as possible in the day.
The earlier you do it, the more willpower you will have and the more time you will save for other (more fun) things later in the day.
As a last note here, also plan for breaks.
If you have a 120-minute study session you should take a break at least every 45 minutes.
During the break, move your body and don’t look on your phone. The break is a break for your mind, so don’t put any more pressure on it. Go out and get some fresh air!
5. “Eat the Frog”
This tasty expression from Brian Tracy means that you should do the hardest task first.
The reason is quite simple – you will have the most willpower and motivation when you start, and you will feel good for the rest of the day once you complete your hardest task.
6. Create Study Bubbles
In our article “How to Stay Productive During COVID-19 Lockdown”, I talked about creating bubbles in your home to separate work and study life from private life.
Create bubbles in:
- time: set time intervals for your studies, every study session should always have a set end time.
- feeling: put on your “study clothes” and try alternating between standing and sitting positions depending on your task.
- space: avoid doing different activities in the same place, like watching Netflix and studying on your sofa, or studying and scroll social media at your desktop.
7. Use a Hammer…
(not literally) to break down big study tasks into smaller, more concrete, pieces.
For example, an essay has several sections, and each section has several paragraphs.
Focus on completing the paragraphs one at a time and you will complete a section. Complete several sections and you have written your essay. Simple enough!
8. Set Specific Goals
You should know exactly what to accomplish after your study session. Use “the Hammer”, as described above, to specify the goals of a given study session.
You can check out the SMART method to help you set your goals.
9. Reward Yourself
Have something fun to look forward to after you complete a study session, like having coffee, calling a friend, or watch a cool YouTube video, like this one:
This will motivate you to keep going because you know something fun is waiting for you at the end.
10. Create a Study Mood
Before going into a study session it’s equally important to boost your mood and to have a positive and proactive feeling towards it.
Some examples of things to do before a study session are:
- Exercise (e.g. go for a walk, jog or to the gym)
- Take a power-nap
11. Find Your Mix
Regardless of which study habits you develop, the most important thing is that you find your own favorite mix.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and we all study different subjects.
Explore different study habits to find the ones that suit you and your studies the best!
12. Study First, Social Second
Most social events are often happening in the afternoon or evening.
Make sure to get your studies done as early as possible in the day to make time for social events.
13. Crush the Comfort Zone
Take the opportunity to try new social settings that are out of your comfort zone. There are likely some different social student events that might be a bit frightening for you, such as; dancing classes, sports clubs, or theatre groups.
Make a habit of attending social events that feels a bit uncomfortable.
The more uncomfortable things you do, the more comfortable you will feel.
14. New Social Settings = New Friends
Find new friends in new social settings that have more in common with you than just studying the same subject.
For a start, choose one new social event every week that is new for you. Bring a friend if it feels super scary, but I would encourage you to go on your own to build your self-esteem and not be too dependent on your current friends’ interests.
If none of your friends would for example go to a dancing class, but you think it would be fun, don’t hesitate!
The value of you deciding on going despite the lack of security of bringing a friend is huge and will do wonders for your confidence.
15. Don’t Exclude
Never exclude people, always aim for including in for example conversations.
Everyone has insecurities, and especially as a new student you oftentimes barely know anyone.
So, if you see someone standing by themselves in a social setting, talk to them, and include them in your conversation.
Wouldn’t you hope for that to happen to you if you were in the same situation?
16. Socialize in the Beginning of an Event
In the first part of a social event, you’re all more or less unknown to each other.
Everyone tries to find people to hang out with to feel secure. These initial social structures formed in the beginning will often last because they were the ones that made you feel secure when everything else felt insecure.
Also, prioritize social events at the beginning of your study time. That’s when it’s the easiest to bond with people because everyone is searching for their secure points.
You’re not the only new student and your feelings of insecurity and a lack of social structures are likely shared by most newcomers.
17. Don’t overdo things
This is specially aimed for you who feel the need to always prove yourself in a new social setting.
If you feel the need to be the loudest, the funniest, the most interesting person or whatever, don’t overdo things. Relax. Just enjoy the social event without trying to impress anyone.
This will make you more likable and also remove any sort of performance pressure on your side.
You’re socializing because it’s fun, not because you have something to prove.
18. Produce Social Events
Always strive to add some value to the social events you attend.
It could be in the form of socializing, but also by offering your help or arranging your own social events.
Don’t just consume, produce social events, and add value to them.
- offer to bring fika (Swedish for snacks and drinks) to a board game event
- start a Facebook group with people you know enjoy running
- ask to help out in a student pub or sitting.
Other students will like to hang out with you because you add value to their social life, which in turn will increase your social life.
It’s a win-win situation!
19. Start at least one new conversation
Instead of keeping to your closest friends or just by yourself, talk to at least one new person at a social event that you don’t know.
It doesn’t have to be anything super-advanced, make it easy for yourself.
The number one go-to question for students is always “What do you study?”
Then, ask at least one follow-up question or statement about their answer. If the natural flow of the conversation dies out, don’t worry.
You started the conversation, that’s what matters, and if the other person is not adding to the talk, just let it go.
Start a new conversation with someone else who is more happy to socialize with you or that study something you find more interesting.
20. Use “yes and”
In a conversation, strive to add to the previous person’s statement with a “yes and”.
Validate the statement, to make them feel heard, and then add your own statement that builds upon the other person’s statement.
Them: “I think math is exciting”
You: “Definitely, especially when you learn Euler’s formula.”
Them: “Wow, can you please tell me more?”
You: “It’s a mathematical formula in complex analysis that establishes the fundamental relationship between the trigonometric functions and the complex exponential function.”
Them: “You’re so smart!”
Okay, maybe that dialog will never happen but this is kind of the basics of how to hold a conversation going. It’s more or less one person saying something, the other one responds in relation to that and adds on. Then the first person responds in relation to that, and so on.
Use “yes and”, even if you don’t have anything smart or thought-out to say.
Them: “I think math is exciting”
You: “Interesting, and why do you think that?”
It’s almost always better than to just respond with an “okay” or even worse, stay silent…
21. Be on Time
This is a no-brainer but still, it’s something worth mentioning.
Show respect and be on time for the social events you attend. You wouldn’t like anyone to be late when you’re hosting something, right?
If you happen to show up late, always apologize to the host.
I can highly recommend our article “6 Rules to be On Time, Every Time” if you often struggle with being on time
22. Use Statements
Use statements instead of questions.
You can frame any question as a statement, and even if that might not be entirely true, it’s a habit you should strive for to create more interesting conversations.
For example, instead of asking “What do you study?” You can use a statement like “You look like you’re studying law”.
The response to this will almost always lead the conversation forward, such as “I’m not. Why did you think that?” or “You’re right, how did you know?”
23. Always go First Round
When out to a bar or nightclub, always offer yourself to buy the first round of drinks to your friends (considering you’re not like 30 people going out together).
Not only will you enjoy “free drinks” for the rest of the evening (given that you’re friends know their manners), you will also come across as a likable person that’s not afraid of taking the initiative of being generous.
Some notes on this would be to not nag your friends to buy you back, that might come off as a bit needy.
If they’re not buying you back, don’t fret it. Just don’t buy them drinks again.
24. Take Breaks
Avoid doing several drinks after one another and take breaks from drinking during the party.
Go dance, have a snack, drink water, or go to the bathroom.
It’s good to occasionally check in with yourself on how you’re actually feeling. In a hyped party environment it’s quite easy to forget about how much you’ve had.
A funny rule of thumb I have for myself is that if I start to talk to myself in the mirror when I wash my hands after being to the bathroom, I’m done with drinking for tonight!
25. Never the Primary
Never set drinking as your primary goal of the party.
Sure, it’s common for student events to include both alcohol and drinking games, but your goal of the evening should never be to get wasted.
This might come across like a parents’ advice but it has made my parties a lot more fun.
If you struggle to find another motive for partying, try the goal of having as exciting conversations as possible, or find new friends to party with.
Also, if you would like to learn more about the benefits of not drinking, check out this article.
26. Checking in with Your Friends
Develop the habit of checking in how your friends are doing from time to time during the party.
A simple “How are you feeling?” will let you know if they feel alright and have a good time.
Even if their answer may not be the most lengthy, like “I’m fine!”, they will most likely feel that you care for them which might make them less inclined to do stupid stuff or drink too much.
It’s very common to feel lonely or left out during parties and compensate by drinking more. Show that you have their best interest in mind and that you are there for them.
27. Set Rules
Set rules for yourself before the party starts.
- Max 3 beers
- No liquor
- Be home before 2 am
Tell a friend to hold you accountable if you have a hard time keeping your rules. This is especially good if you’re a person who often regrets drinking too much or staying up too late.
28. Avoid Toxic People
Be aware of toxic people who’s goal often is that someone should get wasted, throw up, or do something stupid.
Some traits of toxic people to be aware of:
- They point out that you’re not drinking enough.
- They pressure you to take several shots after one another.
- They challenge you to do things that are dangerous, harmful, offensive, or repulsive for you or someone else.
If you notice any of these traits with the people you party with, avoid them and/or question their intent.
29. No Blame Game
Never blame the alcohol for your actions.
This is just plain stupid and will make you less prone to feel hangover-regret.
30. Every Second Non-Alcohol
“Every second water” is kind of watered down and for us to say it’s a good party habit is a bit thin.
It’s not a bad habit by any means, I would highly recommend it, but a problem is that you often just sweep the water and go back to alcohol again.
A different approach would be that every second drink is alcohol-free. This helps you span out the time you consume alcohol during the night.
You’ll be more likely to sip on that drink, like an ordinary one, postpone your next alcohol intake and still get more liquid into your system to digest the alcohol.
And to not mention, you will still look cool by having something in your hand that might very well come off as any ordinary drink, if that’s an issue for you.
31. Sober Nights
This is not the most popular party habit to develop, a party is in fact by student definition, a social event with more or less alcohol involved.
But from my own experience, I’ve found that I often learn a lot about myself and the people I hang out and interact with if I stay sober at a home party, night club or alike.
Some thoughtful questions to ponder about on you sober night out:
- How much do I need alcohol for socializing and having fun?
- How do my friends react when I say that I’m sober tonight?
- How do my friends’ behavior change when they drink? (hard do notice when you’re also drunk)
You can also try this out with a group of friends and have a sober night out as a challenge.
- How much fun do you and your friends have without alcohol?
I’m not saying it will be more fun, but you might find out some painful, but valuable, truths….
32. Take Days off
It’s quite easy to build a habit of drinking and partying several days a week when you’re a student and especially if you’re a novisch and have a lot of new events happening.
But for your own well-being, take days off. If you’re not too happy about turning down invitations, do a sober night!
In the long run, I would suggest you only drink on weekends.
And if you by chance find yourself at a party during the weekdays, question yourself if you really have to have an ordinary drink or could do just fine with a non-alcoholic one.
33. Enjoy or Leave!
Okay, maybe not the most innovative habit from Habithon but needless to say, a student party is supposed to be fun and you’re supposed to enjoy yourself.
If you’re not enjoying yourself, then get out of the party!
It’s not mandatory, and if it feels like it is, you need to ask yourself if you really are hanging out with the right people or if partying really is your thing.
If you conclude that it’s not, it’s totally fine!
For a new student, the university life might come across as just an endless drinking marathon. But I can assure you, there is more to it than meets the eye.
A Last Note…
I hope you’ll try some of the above habits out and that you find them helpful in your life as a student.
Being a student is a wonderful experience and with the right mix of studies, social events, and parties you’ll have the time of your life!
Stay cool, stay in school
All the best,
Listen to the podcast episode about University Habits!
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