School and Study Tips for Students

“The expert in anything was once a beginner.”

Study Tips

The Pomodoro Technique. Ever find yourself able to study for hours one day but another you’re easily distracted and can’t seem to get anything done? Try using the Pomodoro technique when working. This technique aims to maintain high focus for a short amount of time with consistent breaks, so you have time to work and time to relax in between. Start off with 25 minutes of straight work. This means no phone nearby, no distracting music, no talking with others. Hone in on the work you have in front of you. Once you have reached the 25 minutes of work, start your 5 minutes of break. Use this time to go to the bathroom, get water, stretch, or any other way to get yourself active. Once this time is up repeat the process until you reach 4 sessions. After this take a longer break, but not over an hour unless you’re taking a break to eat. Consistently using this technique will help to discipline your mind and allow you to study longer while giving your brain adequate rest so that you don’t burn out after an hour.

Set the Stage. Did you know setting the stage for your work can make or break your study session? In order to have the ideal study space consider these tips.

  • Change the environment
    • Do you remember that feeling of motivation you get the very first week of school or at a new job? Changing up your environment can trigger this motivation to work hard, so try to not study at the same desk every single time. Whether you work at the library, somewhere surrounded by nature, or even a different part of your house, try finding a new space that you don’t usually work in.
  • Sleep well the night before
    • Although it may be tempting to stay up late on your phone, doing so is taking away from your focus the next day. Try your best to follow a consistent night time routine, have fresh linen, and optimize your sleep for the most efficient study session the next day. Another factor to have a better sleep is to avoid naps and caffeinated drinks after 2pm. Napping throughout the day and drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon or evening leads to difficulty falling asleep and even insomnia. If this is problematic to do, try napping for short 15 minute spurts and switching to decaf beverages.
  • Listen to calming music
    • Having complete silence in the background often heightens our senses to acknowledge distant sounds that can distract us. Instead, try listening to calming music. Some suggestions could be lo-fi, nonlyrical, or even gentle classical. Try to stray from upbeat songs with catchy lyrics as you may find yourself more involved with the music than your work.
  • Eliminate distractions
    • Make sure all other devices or distractions are stored away. Even if you can stay off your phone for half an hour, receiving notifications can be tempting and oftentimes distract you from focusing on your work for just a few seconds. Try putting your devices on silent and keeping them on the other side of the room or part of the house. This will allow your mind to focus solely on what is in front of you.
  • Snack on smart food
    • Nutrition plays a vital part in concentration and overall well being. Consider bringing fruits and veggies into your study space to keep your stomach full and focus constant. If hunger still remains a large problem in your concentration consider refraining from salty foods, upping your water consumption, and drinking from a straw. The amount of water we need is surprising, by making sure to drink enough hunger is oftentimes fulfilled even without constant snacking.

College Transition

How to ease the transition from high school to college

Prior to entering college:

  • Draw on past/present experiences of independence
    • Sleepovers, camp, CYO or BBYO retreats, RYLA, summer sports camps, vacations, etc.. Remember other experiences that freaked you out at first but turned out fine
  • Practice the behaviors that you’ll need in college
    • doing your own laundry, handling a checkbook/credit card, preparing your own meals
  • Talk to your counselor about common strategies to help you make the transition.  Some issues are predictable, but there are many other issues that you may not have thought of
    • (see: “A Common Trap for Students and Families Regarding College Transition”)

Upon entering college:

  • Visualize the person you want to be
    • (academically and socially)
  • Research the clubs and activities available on campus that will reinforce this view and make you most comfortable
  • Explore new interests
  • Discover new ideas
  • Meet new people
  • Prioritize—nobody can do everything, and it’s easy to lose sight of classroom responsibilities
  • Develop and stay connected with a support system (including guidance/counseling and peer counseling programs—especially at first)
  • Expect ups and downs
  • Reach out to professional counselors if necessary.  Most colleges and universities have a professional counseling center on campus that can provide support, referrals, and other services.

I’ve got a dream

that’s worth more than my sleep.

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The Y Wellness Initiative is a nonprofit organization through the Ridgewood YMCA, serving many communities in Bergen and Passaic Counties. Our mission is to positively impact mental wellness through services, education, prevention and support.

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