We’d like to introduce guest author Cal Newport –from Study Hacks. Author of   How to Become a Straight-A Student, Cal is a graduate of Dartmouth College located in NH and currently a Ph.D. candidate at MIT. Definitely on top of his game. Thanks, Cal!

I spend so much time thinking about how to squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of the college study process, I sometimes forget that many students are at a stage where they first need to be rescued from an abyss of mind-staggeringly terrible habits. What good are smart note-taking tips and rapid review techniques if you’re showing up to exams coked up to your eyeballs or hiring an unusually skilled rhesus monkey to beef up your English essay?

Let’s start at the beginning. For those who are new to college and are wondering the difference between idiosyncratic traits common to most students, and terrible, brain dead habits you should avoid like the plague, I’ve produced the following guide:

Don’t Do What Johnny Don’t Does: Three Things You Should Never Do While Studying


  1. Don’t Study Drunk

    Sounds obvious. But this comes up a lot. The scenario is simple. It’s 10 PM. You’re just getting started on a short paper. Word gets out about a pong tourney. This, of course, becomes impossibly appealing, so you convince yourself that you can finish the paper when you get back. Here’s the thing: that paper will suck harder than a rhesus monkey with a frozen banana. It’s hard to turn down this temptation, so what’s the solution? Study earlier. Sound hard? It’s not. Just don’t return to your dorm room until after dinner. Before then, get your work done instead of collapsing on your coach watching re-runs.


  • Don’t Snort Adderal

    Students at rural colleges are probably asking: “what does that mean?” Students at NYU, NY are problem sneering at me while crushing some fresh pills. For the un-initiated, Adderal is a Ritalin-like drug for treating ADHD. Some students crush the pills and snort it to help stay up and write papers. There are two problems here. First, it has a tendency to do terrible, terrible things to your body. You’re basically snorting speed. And it has a way, like with speed, of warping your brain, causing psychotic episodes, and screwing up your heart. Second, from a studying point of view, it produces terrible results. Adderal-derived papers seem brilliant at the time, but tend to come out looking like a drunken rhesus money had a seizure on your keyboard. Unless you’re a comparative literature major, your professor won’t appreciate this. Do yourself a favor, start working a day earlier to avoid being in a situation where chemicals seem like the only way out.



  • Don’t Buy a Paper on the Internet

    It doesn’t matter that the web site claims that their papers are custom-crafted by Harvard professors for your specific assignment. They aren’t. They were stolen from other websites by some weird, junior college drop-out, track suit wearing, rhesus monkey fighting (probably), pseudo-entrepreneurial slickster, trying to make a buck. Your professor will recognize that the work sucks. Then he will plug it into one of those anti-plagiarism programs that will immediately find the “original masterwork” you bought. Then you’re screwed. Write the damn thing yourself.