Second, going to the library. That's what I did during college and law school. Another tip is to go to the library after each class and review the day's notes. Studies have shown that this helps with retention. I also did this through college and law school and can vouch for it's effectiveness.
The library is usually the best option. But for convenience, having a designated work space helps. I personally used a desk in the corner that I had all set up for studying. Papers, writing utensils, whatever books, reading lamp, so on. Another thing that helps me focus is a specific kind of music. For studying, I usually went with Mozart, or Beethoven. For just reading nowadays, I like to listen to ambient music (e.g. Bass Communion, Tim Hecker, so on).
I know what you mean about going and doing something else, especially since college is so different from high school in that you're constantly surrounded by people that can potentially distract you whereas in high school you were at home when you knew you needed to get some studying done.
I think a good way to get over this is evaluate your distractions. After you put off studying a few times, take a look and see what you did instead of studying. If it was something like playing pool in the lounge because someone was bored and invited you to join, or just goofing off online aimlessly for an hour [unless you're on AoM, or course] realize that you can do that kind of stuff whenever, and you're NOT MISSING OUT on anything by studying. If something more exclusive or important is what distracts you, then learn to accept it and enjoy yourself, but make sure you plan to study later.
The library advice is really good because it takes you out of that setting where you can get distracted, but even when you isolate yourself, you may be the type of person that gets that nagging feeling that there's something more fun that you could be doing. So look at the things that are distracting you and come to terms with the fact that it's not completely crucial that you sacrifice studying time for something that you could be doing whenever.
Try and find something in what you're studying for that you really think is interesting or important.
I did economics at college and bits of it were *really* dry and boring, especially the advanced maths and statistics. I knew that I had to understand them in order to understand do the interesting bits, so it made it a lot easier to knuckle down for the hard stuff. If you can make the abstract or academic concrete and see the point of it by looking at it from a real world application point of view then it makes it better.
A lot of the time the problem is just starting, then once you're making progress it's ok. So just force yourself to start then you'll find that it's not so bad after all (just like going running, I find :) )
Have regular breaks, but time yourself on breaks and working. I actually use this little program to time myself and do 10 minutes study then 2 mins break, repeating 5 times for an hours work. http://appsapps.info/instantboss.php.
Whatever the mood, you can always force yourself through 10 minutes, and after that you'll get into it and start skipping breaks voluntarily. If 10 minutes is too short you can alter your work/break time ratio.
It is good to remember that with studying quality is more important to quantity. The brain can only take so much info at one time, so it is good to break your studying into small blocks. Otherwise, you will find yourself going through the motions and not having much to show for it.
Break it up throughout the day. Get up two hours early. Have a leisurely breakfast and study for 45 minutes. Then, go about your business. Review for about 25 minutes at lunch. When you get home, get all of your business taken care of (dinner, laundry, fix-it jobs). Take a shower, get some olives or carrots, and study for a couple of hours. When you start getting bored, just take five minutes to walk around or do some push-ups.
Don't cram. Do a little bit every day. Make it a part of your daily routine.
While I would second many of the suggestions, different subjects require different study habits and styles. Math has to be studied differently than languages. History requires a different set of skills than the hard sciences.
All subjects are like that, and mathematics does require a fair amount of memorization as well. I have yet to take a decent class that didn't require some creative thought.
The dig on language learning being nothing but memorization got to me a bit, as I studied linguistics, and am currently in an intensive Chinese program. Language is far more than memorization, and cannot be reduced to simple memorization. I have a new variables and new formulas I learn every day- a sentence can be formed this way, "....". My job is to remember the variables that can be plugged into that formula. (I used to be an engineering major, so the mathematical approach to language works for me.)
Don't knock other people's choices simply because they aren't the same as yours. (FWIW, I was horribly guilty of this as an engineering major as well, but then I got out of there and started having to think and work hard.)
Math is a tough one (and honestly, not my specialty) but I would recommend a study group or, at least, a partner. Math (and related fields, such as advanced physics) regularly puts you in a situation where you have no idea how to proceed and having another person to help you and to bounce ideas/solutions off of will help.
When you say human biology, I am assuming that you are talking about a lecture/lab course where you will be tested via written exam ... then, you need to learn it by repetition. Re-read and re-work the topics over and over until you know them from every angle. You can do this by yourself or in a group, but the best way to use a combination of study techniques to help you adsorb the most information. For more theoretical subjects, my favorite is the Q&A with another person ... ask each other exam questions and practice giving oral answers. If you can answer orally, then you can answer in an exam because in both situations, you are under pressure.
"Hey, Chip. I had a class with a student, by the time I was done my 4 year old was out of school so had to pic him up and bring him home. Long story short, didn´t have time to get back to you. I´m sorry about that. I hope we can chat some…"
"I once asked a (male) friend if I could call him any time of day or night if going cold turkey on TV got me into depression. He told me later how much he was hoping I didn't choose the middle of the night... but he said sure. I…"
"Okay then, a good .22 is the way to go. In a bolt action look for a used Marlin 25, they had fantastic barrels. New bolt, check out the CZ rifles, not cheap, but not heartbreakers either. In a semi-auto, go with a Ruger 10-22, they run forever, and…"
Just as Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” has been applied to many different aspects of modern life; I believe there are many great lessons to be learned from all of the warriors and warrior societies, from SEALS to Samurais, and Spetsnaz to Spartans.