How can your college student reduce anxiety and enjoy learning at the college level?

As a parent, nothing is as heartrending as watching your daughter or son struggle emotionally.  When they fail to achieve up to their own expectations, they experience a flurry of frustration, self-doubt, and anxiety.  You’ll be interested to know that although students tend to think their poor performance means they aren’t smart enough, researchers have conclusively shown that poor performance in college is far more likely due to a lack of academic skills than to a lack of inherent capacity.  

The good news is that these skills are entirely learnable.  Knowing and applying these skills gives the student mental leverage— a way to realize better results in less time, and with less stress and anxiety.

Attractive tired upset female college student studying at the college library, sitting at the desk, getting ready for exams

Think of it this way:  The Admissions Committee has already validated your child’s aptitude by accepting them. These committees have decades (even centuries!) of experience among their members, so it’s safe to assume they know what they’re doing.  Even open enrollment institutions like community colleges validate students by designating the level of the courses they are placed into.  So if a student starts feeling like they can’t cut it, it’s almost certainly not because of a lack of brain power, but a lack of skill when it comes to learning. 

World-renown researcher Dr. Patricia Alexander puts it succinctly:

“Students do not come [to college] equipped with the cognitive …strategies they need.”

— Patricia A. Alexander in the journal Educational Researcher          

Strategies. The fact that acquired skills are crucial in effective learning also explains why it’s common to see even truly gifted students fail in college— so common that it’s widely discussed in the education literature.  They find high school so easy that they never had to bother to learn the proper techniques of learning.

In fact, many students go through high school without ever needing to learn how to study.  To think that there is such a thing as needing to learn how to learn seems positively silly…until… they get to college, where the work comes a lot faster and is a lot tougher, the ideas are more abstract and conceptual, and time is more precious.  Students suffer emotionally because they’ve never hit “the wall” before and tend to think it’s a reflection of their innate self-worth.

Of course, it’s not.  Once they take our Learning Leverage for College Students course they see this for themselves and get right back on track.

One of the problems that gets students into trouble is that unlike high school, the only external structure in their college lives are meal times and class meeting times. It’s easy for students to fall behind.  In fact, they can even spend the first four weeks of college not thinking that they have much to do because they don’t have any tests or assignments due yet.  Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.  And they often don’t realize that until it’s too late. 

Also unlike high school, the work in college comes so fast that if they stumble it’s very tough to recover, especially if they don’t have a strategy for doing so.

Fortunately, the academic skills we’re talking about aren’t hard to learn.  After just one morning of going through Study Swami’s Learning Leverage for College Students, your child will know enough to make a plan and get on the right track.  And as they get into the routine and learn their own strengths, they can keep coming back to Learning Leverage to refine their tactics and adapt our methods to make them their own (a point we emphasize throughout the course).  Whenever they need it.  Privately.  On demand.

When you consider the fact that a small person who has been trained how to throw a punch can punch a lot harder than even a large person who is untrained, the value of effective technique for any skill becomes clear, even the skills required to study academic subjects.  

Learning Leverage for College Students was created from the insights of master teachers into what made students successful in their respective subjects.  We drew on decades of experience and thousands of hours of research (see the bibliography linked in the menu) in building the course.  But we don’t over-teach it.  This course is designed to be as quick and practical as possible, leaving the theory to the academics.

Your child will notice right away that Learning Leverage is not like any study skills site they’ve ever seen.

Here’s one example:  Your child can very quickly find videos or articles that counsel them to “review your notes.”  Most students take this to mean read over their notes.  Wouldn’t you? Some of the more industrious students might copy their notes over, or mark them up with highlighters.  And while doing these things is better than doing nothing, their time would be spent more effectively if they reviewed their notes in a way that it leads to “mental processing” and, therefore, faster understanding, longer retention, and better integration with other material— the “triple crown” of learning.  We teach them how to do this in Learning Leverage, so that when they sit down to study they have an actual “game plan” of what to do and how to do it in a way that leads to effective and efficient learning.

They know what to do, even when nothing is due.  This leads to a powerful sense of being in control and confidence in their ability to achieve their desired outcomes.

What about tests and exams

Some students have a knack for knowing what the instructor is looking for, others struggle to know what and how to study for them.  The fact is, not all tests are the same nor do they all require the same level of mastery of the material.  In Study Swami we teach the student exactly what the different levels of mastery are and how to study for each.  This is a level of disclosure we’ve never seen anywhere else.  It’s all about looking at tests from the point of view of the instructor, and using the taxonomy of professional learning researchers to categorize what’s being tested— and therefore how to prepare. 

In Learning Leverage for College Students, your child will start by learning general college-level academic skills, like how to review notes or plan a paper.  They will continue with course-specific skills, including course-specific test-taking skills.  After all, you certainly don’t study Literature the same way you study Psychology, and you don’t study Psychology the same way you study Math.  Learning Leverage for College Students covers them all.  

What about motivation?

We’d be lying if we claimed to have completely solved the problem of motivating students.  But our anecdotal experience is right in line with the results of the research by Drs. Linnebrink and Pintrich, who found that what a student thinks about their ability to succeed has a lot to do with their motivation to try:

“[O]ne of the more important motivational beliefs for student achievement is self-efficacy, which concerns beliefs about capabilities….”

—  Elizabeth A. Linnenbrink and Paul R. Pintrich in  School Psychology Review 

Now, it’s still true that in order to succeed your child has to at least want to do well.  She or he has to have some level of intrinsic motivation.  But the biggest blocker to motivation, short of adolescent rebellion (in which case you would be wise to consider a gap year), is seeing a lack of success after really trying.  It’s demoralizing, demotivating, and can be the source of great anxiety— often leading the student to give up.  

This is likely the case if your child was motivated and excited at first, but now for some “mysterious” reason seems to have lost their drive. 

That drive will come back after a little success, and success can be had by applying college-level studying techniques. Small successes build to larger successes, and those lead to still larger successes.  As confidence increases, so will determination.  And so will resilience against setbacks.

And by the way, you probably recognize that this isn’t just a formula for success in college.  It’s a formula for success in life.

Beyond our lessons on effective study techniques, we also have short, clearly written and explanatory papers on 

  • Problem solving— written for engineering, math, and science, but a surprisingly useful thinking “process” for other types of problems too, even the kind that you might encounter in everyday life
  • Abstract thinking:  What it is, why it’s important, and how to learn abstract concepts— a big step a lot of students struggle with in college  
  • How to succeed in group work— clearly written, step-by-step
  • How to legitimately increase their attention span— no-drugs needed
  • How to write a paper in a hurry….just in case

Bear in mind that the most important takeaway from college is to learn how to learn, because it opens up all the other doors in college and in their career.

Watch the first video of the course.

What is not covered by Study Swami?

Plenty.  First of all, there are some subjects that we don’t cover:   Creative arts, performing arts, athletics or foreign languages.  We simply couldn’t find teachers who could tell us any more than we could find from a simple internet search.    

In terms of academic study skills, we don’t say much about the common-sense stuff, like “stay off social media when you’re trying to study,” “don’t play distracting music,” and what-not.  They hear that advice from plenty of others, and if they aren’t heeding it at this point it’s because following the common advice is not solving their problem.  We also don’t give much advice about specific apps to use or writing implements.  Apps and tools change so fast that the students will find out more from their friends or their teaching assistants.  We don’t prescribe whether or not they should take notes on paper or on a laptop. And we don’t tell them to keep their study area clean.

We also don’t cover the party/dating/social side of college.   We’re not trying to be their parents or their counselors.  We’re teaching them how to learn.

We focus on the cognitive elements:  What they should be doing with their brains in order to learn college-level material.  When we get them going in the right direction in that respect, they’ll naturally and automatically make better decisions in the other areas.

As you know, the last year and a half has been hard on students.  Four students out of five have increased stress levels because of academic concerns.  Over half feel like they had a higher workload under the pandemic learning conditions.

Study Swami teaches your child exactly how to stay ahead of the game.  Not general, hand-wavy admonishments, but a procedure that your child can follow step-by-step to success. 

Now, a brief warning:  

If this is the first time your child is taking their academics seriously, they may have a discouraging setback immediately after they start to try— even if they begin incorporating the methods of Learning Leverage.  Think of an airplane that is in a stall:  You have to put the nose down to pick up speed and get things under control, then you can fly the way you want to.  So tell them to stick to the game plan and it will all work out.

Time is critical

Get Learning Leverage for College Students for your child now and get them started.  The longer you wait the harder it is for them to recover.

Important Note: To actually complete the purchase for them, enter their email address into the purchase form. They will receive a link that allows them to log in and set a password. Otherwise, send your child to and let them buy it themselves.