Our Story

About How to Study in College

Many years ago my nephew was about to head off to college himself. My brother asked me to tell him about some of the things I did in college to get good grades. You see, I was a horrible student in high school, but I completely turned it around in college.

I wrote a few emails explaining the things I did to do well in college and why I thought they worked for me. Pretty soon I started forwarding them to others as well.

The Website

Over the years I forwarded those emails to others so many times that I decided to put them up on a website to make those ideas easier to share.

It was an ugly site and I didn’t even look at it for many months. When I did, I noticed that I was starting to get some traffic. A lot of traffic. Pretty soon people started emailing me or posting comments. Before long I was getting thousands of visitors every month. I finally decided to set up a new site.

The first site was static. Our goal with this one is to keep it more up to date and be more responsive to visitor comments and questions. We’ll have a blog where we will post new information and ideas about how to do your best in college.

The Book

While our How To Study section of the site is pretty comprehensive, many people were encouraging me to write a more detailed book in more detail. Reluctantly, I decided to do it, but I knew it had to be different.

First of all, I wanted to keep it simple. There was no way I was going to try to provide a detailed treatise on study methods. Rather, my goal was to give the students a simple set of actions and study techniques that would deliver the best results for the effort they put in with whatever time they had. Kind of the ‘80/20’ rule of study, that 20% of effort delivers 80% of the results. We really do believe that students can be more effective in how they study and we’ll show you how.

Secondly, I knew that self-help books rarely deliver on their promise. That is because nobody follows through. The author rarely provides any way to stay in touch with their readers and make sure that they stick with the program. I knew that if I was going to do this right, I had to do something more.  We knew that had to include both an app and ongoing follow up.

Shovel App

As you read this site, you’ll notice that I put a big emphasis on managing your time and workload in college. However, I never really provided any good recommendations on the best tools to do that.

Enter Petr Placek, a recent Harvard grad who I have known for many years. When Petr graduated in 2015, he was an Assistant Project Manager on a new skyscraper being currently under construction in New York.

Petr was responsible for coordinating the endless movement of people and materials needed on a specific aspect of the project. There might be hundreds of people from many different companies and dozens of trucks dropping materials exactly when they were needed at each stage of the project. All of this had to be done in a very limited space.

Just imagine trying to get people and materials on site at exactly the right time they are needed. Everything literally builds on top of the things before it and any mistake can create endless delays that increase costs and create even more chaos. At a $1.2 billion project, the stakes are high.

What Petr noticed is that even on a project of massive size, things still worked. Never perfectly, but well enough to keep things moving. How do they do that? They do it with careful planning. They know how long things take and can make very accurate estimates on when to get started.

Petr realized that college is no different. You have a big project – a class. Completing it successfully requires you to do a whole lot of small parts in the right order and with a high degree of quality. Getting behind starts a cascade of problems that cause delays and reduce the quality of your work.

It isn’t enough to just know how much time you have. You also have to know how much time you need. We decided to create an app that would allow students to do just that.  Shovel App was born. It gives students a way to simply and efficiently understand and manage their time and workload, and do it automatically all semester.

Make It A Habit

I can provide college students with college study tips and a great app. However, the thing that I asked myself was this – will students stick with it? I knew all too well from experience that most wouldn’t.

Everyone has bought apps only to stop using them within days. It’s the same with books. We have all bought some kind of self-help book hoping to help make us better in some way. Soon the book is on the shelf and we fall back to our old ways.

The Shovel Study System makes sure that doesn’t happen. We follow up relentlessly to make sure that you follow through. We give students continuous reminders, encouragement, examples, engagement, and interaction all semester long.

You’ll learn to do simple things the same way every day until you don’t even think about them. They become habits.

You’ll quickly have a system that just works. You’ll know that certain behaviors and study methods will deliver consistent and predictable results, each and every time you do them.

I knew that my How To Study book would be no different. Unless I could follow up with my readers and keep them engaged, students just wouldn’t follow through.

Shovel Is A System

I don’t want you to think that there is some secret to getting good grades in college. There isn’t. It’s about commitment, having the discipline to ruthlessly avoid distractions, and managing your time and workload in a way that you are never caught by surprise.

The methods for success are known. Our goal is to give you the awareness of the problems, give you the tool to manage your time and workload, the best practices for getting things done, and then the follow up to make sure you follow through.

Ultimately you didn’t intend to buy a book, an app, or a follow-up program. What you really bought is perfect grades, and we have to do our best to make sure you get them.

So thanks to my brother for asking me to send an email to help my nephew in college. From that simple start, we hope to help millions of others do the same.

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