College-Prep Study Skills for Homeschoolers

By request: here are important college-prep study skills for homeschoolers.

College-Prep Study Skills for Homeschoolers

College-Prep Study Skills for Homeschoolers

Success in college…I’ve seen so many homeschool high schoolers find it. In my many years of raising my own homeschool graduates and advising local homeschooling teens who then went onto college, I’ve seen them well prepared for the rigors of college education.

How can you prepare your college-bound teens for successful studies in college? You cannot cover everything because skills needed tend to change over time, but you can give them some basics.

Here are top college-prep study skills for homeschoolers

There are many college-prep study skills teens need but here are some of the most important:

Time management

Creating & Using a Syllabus
Click image for full description.

Yes, time management is a fundamental study skill. College students who do not have time-management skills often end up pushing their paper-writing and exam-studying until the night before. Cramming for exams is a poor study skill, work done under pressure, late at night tends to be of poorer quality (and for exams, less easy to retrieve from the memory banks).

Give your teens the gift of time management. Help them develop skills in:

  • Using a syllabus
  • Using a planner (digital or paper)
  • Scheduling backwards from the syllabus onto the planner at the beginning of the semester
  • Doing periodic time audits

Check out how-tos or these in this post on time management for teens.

Public Speaking

Speech I: Public Speaking curriculum from
Click image for full description.

I have had so many college students tell me that their public speaking course was the most useful course they took in homeschool high school. (They did not always say it was their favorite, but it was the most useful.) This, they tell me, is because many college courses have presentations several times each semester and often organizations they join have opportunities where they must speak to a group.


College-bound teens need to be comfortable with writing to a format (and to be comfortable doing lots of writing). Some basic types of writing they will face in college will most likely include:

For more details on types of writing a college-bound teen needs to do, check out this post.

Sleep management

Get enough sleep. The brain wires in information teens have learned while they sleep. Effective memory retrieval requires adequate sleep. Lack of sleep can be a reason why some college students study but cannot remember what they studied when the actual test comes.

Note taking

  • Take notes in class then type them up after class. It sounds redundant but our homeschool grads have told us it REALLY helps jell the information they are learning.
  • If a professor writes something on the board, copy it (you’ll learn better than relying on the slide deck prepared by the teacher).
  • When a professor repeats something, put a big star by that note.
  • If a professor says, “This is important”, believe me: it’s important.
  • Use different colored highlighters to differentiate the various types of information in notes (or textbooks).
  • Check out this in-depth article on note taking from Penn State University.

Textbook reading

  • First, read the introduction and bullet points on what the chapter is about.
  • Second, read the first section’s questions.
  • Third, read the section titles for that section.
  • Then, read the chapter. (If pressed for time, just read the first and last sentences of each paragraph.)
  • Highlight in different colors information that is important to the topic.
  • Learn the terms in the glossary.

Research skills

The best way to learn research skills is write research papers of the various styles during high school. Research paper writing curriculum will teach:

  • Organization skills
  • Researching skills
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Writing skills (such as choosing good topics, citations, bibliographies, quotes, writing to a format)

7Sisters has step by step research paper writing curriculum for:

Chicago-Style Research Paper Writing Guide
Click image for full description.

Visit your professors

Students who visit their professors, tend to get better grades. Go ask a question, review test questions you got wrong, see if you are on track with a paper or project.

Find a study group

My sister, Dr. Renae Duncan, was Associate Provost of Murray State University until her retirement. She also taught Psychology in the college classrooms. She found that students who are in study groups learn better and get better grades.

Paying attention

  • Don’t skip class.
  • Doodle while listening and note taking.
  • Keep your phone in your backpack during class.
  • Sit in the first two rows or down the middle (students in this “t-zone” tend to get better grades). Try to sit in the same spot each time (especially for tests) it helps memory retrieval.
  • Ask and/or answer questions.
  • When studying or prepping for tests, find your most successful studying location: In your dorm room? At the library? In the student activity building with your study group?

Ask or answer questions in class.

Test preparation

  • Schedule backwards and start studying a week ahead.
  • Find a study group (teach the material to each other).
  • Create flashcards or a Quizlet.
    • Create questions and complete answers.
  • If the teacher gives a study guide, use it thoroughly.
  • On the test, answer questions you know first, go back and work on the unsure questions next. Don’t skip extra credit!
  • For information on free CLEP preparation for college credit, check out this post.

For more college-prep study skills, check out this post. Also, your teens will benefit from this interview with college success tips from homeschool grad, Kendall Smythe. In this interview with Seth Tillman, he shares classroom success tips he learned at community college and used after he earned his AA then transferred to state university.

Here’s a timeline of important things to cover each year in high school to get ready for college and tips for finding scholarships. Also, our friend and Cousin, Cheryl Carter shares what college bound teens should do now.

Check this impactful interview with Denise Boiko with tips for college success for first generation college students. Also, you will benefit from this discussion with academic advisors, Marilyn Groop and Dr. Barbara Varnell, about what colleges are looking for in homeschoolers.

While not a study-skills interview, here’s a post on making friends in college and this interview with homeschool grads, Seth and Caroline Tillman, has lots of tips for safety while at college.

Also, our friend, Kara Walker shares how to graduate from college debt free in this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.

7Sisters email subscribers receive periodic practical encouragement, special offers and NO SPAM EVER.

Sign Up for Emails
Click the image above to periodically receive real homeschool value in your inbox.

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *