How to Be a Lazy College Student

Three Methods:Prioritizing What's ImportantMaking the Most of Your TimeLearning Other Ways to Work Efficiently

In college, unlike in high school, you are expected to take responsibility for your own learning. It is ultimately up to you to determine how much time and effort you want to put into your schoolwork. Experts suggest that college students today work considerably fewer hours than their counterparts did in 1961.[1] But there is also evidence that working more hours is not necessarily the best way to be productive.[2] A little laziness may even be good for us.

Part 1
Prioritizing What's Important

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    Ask yourself what you want from college. There are many reasons why a college degree is desirable, not least that it is still considered highly valuable by many employers.[3] Your own reasons for pursuing a college degree may be more personal, but spend some time working out exactly what these reasons are. Consider why college is important to you.
    • Do you want to learn important skills like critical thinking and problem-solving?
    • Do you want to make friends, network and get to know other people?
    • Do you want to get good grades for further study?
    • Do you want to get a particular job that requires a college degree?
    • Spend some time reflecting on these questions and come up with your own answers. It might even be a good idea to write them down. This will help you to recognize what's important to you, so that you can focus on the essential things.
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    Select your major and your classes carefully. After you have determined what's important to you as a college student, then you can make better decisions about pursuing a major or particular classes that will help you achieve your goals.[4]
    • Speak to your academic advisor. It is their job to provide information about what certain majors entail and what courses are necessary.
    • Ask other students for information about the class. Ask questions like, is the course time-consuming? Is the professor fair? What are the assignments like?
    • If you don't know any other students, look online. There are many websites, some more general and others specific to particular schools where students share this kind of information.
    • Be aware that what is on these sites are merely individual opinions, and your own experience of the course may be different.
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    Complete as much coursework as you can before the semester gets going. Preparation is key and doing what you can before the semester starts will help things run more smoothly later on.[5]
    • For example, ask the professor for a copy of the syllabus ahead of time so that you can order the necessary materials before the semester starts.
    • Familiarize yourself with the course materials. You can even start reading early to get ahead!
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    Figure out what is actually required to do well in the class. This is key to being a lazy, yet productive, college student.
    • Professors often cut material from the syllabus as the class goes on. Usually the syllabus contains more material than it is possible to get through in a single semester.[6]
    • Ask your professor what is required reading and what materials or course readings may be more supplementary, i.e. they will not appear on exams or in assignments.
    • Pay attention to what kinds of materials come up most frequently in lectures. For example, there may be a textbook chapter and several articles assigned for each class, yet the professor usually focuses on the textbook chapters in lecture. If you can determine a pattern then you can use this in your own preparation for the class.
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    Streamline your commitments. Being a college student is not simply about going to class, many students are also part of sports teams, fraternities/ sororities, student associations and take on other voluntary roles. [7]
    • These are obviously important and worthwhile activities, but ask yourself if there are any commitments you could scale back on.
    • Identify particular commitments that are not necessary to the goals that you have chosen to focus on.
    • Accept that you can't do everything.

Part 2
Making the Most of Your Time

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    Get things done at the right time. Timing is essential to being a lazy college student. While procrastination can be appealing, there are some activities that are best done at certain times.[8] Here are some examples.
    • Do your homework straight after class when the content is fresh in your mind. This will save you time as you won't have to re-visit the material at a later date, when you might have forgotten it.
    • Write out an essay plan or outline immediately after discussing it with the teaching assistant or professor in office hours. Again, if you spend some time getting your ideas on paper at the right moment then you'll save yourself time in the future, because you won't have to worry about all the good ideas you might have forgotten.
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    Take good notes. At some point, you will have to engage with the course materials. If you take good notes the first time round, then at the end of the semester or when an assignment is due you can use these notes and avoid having to re-visit what you have already read.
    • Write good summaries. Try to distill the argument of a text or the main points in a chapter into a single paragraph. This will serve you well when you come back to look at your notes.
    • Figure out if typing notes works best for you or if you prefer to write them long-hand.[9]
    • Annotate and highlight the text.
    • Use sticky notes to mark important parts.
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    Learn how to read quickly. Most college courses require you to read a high volume of complex material. Learning to read quickly and effectively is one of the key skills you learn in college.
    • Preview the passage before you start reading it. Take a minute or two to look at the title, the headings or subheadings, any pictures, charts or graphs.
    • Skim over the passage by reading the first and last paragraph, and the first sentence of every paragraph.
    • Researchers suggest that these techniques improves reading comprehension, which will ultimately save you time as you already begin reading with a sense of what's important in the passage.[10]
    • Read in the right environment so that you actually take in what you are reading. This will prevent wasting time by re-reading certain parts that you missed. This requires good lighting, a comfortable upright reading position, minimal distraction and regular breaks. [11]
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    Utilize "dead" time. This refers to the hours in the day spent in routine, non-productive tasks. The idea is that focusing in these key moments can actually give you more free time to relax and be lazy.[12]
    • For example, those 30 minutes spent staring out the bus window during your daily commute could be utilized for productive tasks like reading over your notes or listening to the lecture that you recorded.
    • If you have free time in between classes, go to the library or the nearest cafe and spend the time studying.

Part 3
Learning Other Ways to Work Efficiently

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    Take advantage of college resources. Colleges often provide writing centers and tutoring services to their students. It is a good idea to make use of these services as they will help you get the work done faster and prevent you wasting time being stuck on a particular problem or difficult assignment.
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    Form a study group. Collaborating with other students in study groups can be an excellent way to share the workload.[13]
    • When prepping for the final exam, delegate different topics to different members of the study group to make notes on. This can be a great time saver, although you will obviously still need to make sure that you are familiar with all the course content.
    • Make sure everyone in the study group is on the same page and shares the work equally.
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    Seek help from your professor. Remember there is no shame in getting help when you need it. Most professors and teaching assistants have weekly office hours. They can help you strategize for success in the class.
    • Get advice on assignments and exam preparation, often this will prevent you wasting time on what isn't essential to the course.
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    Get the right technology. There is lots of technology that can help you as a college student, a laptop being the most obvious investment.
    • Consider investing in a recording device. This can prove useful especially if you have difficulty concentrating in lecture or are going to miss a key class. Always remember to ask the professor for permission before you record them!
    • Use software to help with referencing and citations. Many college papers, especially research papers, require correctly formatted references and bibliographies. There are many programs available to help with this, which will ultimately save you time and avoid any issues with incorrect citations.
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    Work on managing stress. College can be stressful, for many students it is the first time living away from home and there are increasing financial pressures on students, many of whom work to sustain themselves throughout college.[14]
    • Acknowledge that stress is normal, but be aware that too much time spent worrying or stressing can be unhealthy and stop you from succeeding.
    • Engage with your college's resources for managing stress. Many colleges provide programming for students to help with stress management, especially during finals period.
    • Some key ways to manage stress are to engage in physical exercise, make time for relaxing activities, and try to get enough sleep. When it comes to managing stress, being lazy sometimes can be a good thing!


  • Choose classes that are interesting to you. Not every class that sounds easy will be easy!
  • Remember that college is not the be all, end all of a happy, peaceful life. There are many things you can do, if only you would allow yourself to think about them.


  • This guide is to allow for a lazy college student to be somewhat successful and productive. If you do not wish for an effective result, just don't go to school at all.
  • Unless you want to fail some classes you will still need to set aside time to do your work.

Article Info

Categories: College and University Study Techniques