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7 Reasons Why Your College Student Should Journal

Guest Contributor

Journaling can enrich students' personal and academic lives as well as help to set them up for professional success. Depending on their unique goals and preferences, there are a number of different types of journals they can keep. Here are some of the main benefits of journaling plus different types of journals that students can start keeping now.

7 Benefits of Journaling

From helping students stay organized to boosting their self-confidence, there are so many great reasons to keep a journal!

1. Boost Mental Health

Journaling is an effective self-care practice that can help students alleviate stress, manage anxiety and even cope with depression. A journal can help students organize their thoughts and begin to visualize solutions to problems they’re having or simply better manage their schedules. Feeling more in control can lead students to feel more confident and less stressed.

A journal can also be a place where students can actively practice positive self-talk and combat negative thoughts, using it as a space to assess their strengths and remember to be kind to themselves.

2. Improve Physical Health

Expressive writing has been shown to help individuals with a variety of medical problems. Self-reported physical health benefits of expressive writing include reduced blood pressure, improved liver function, better immune system functioning and improved athletic performance. 

3. Elevate Emotional Intelligence

Journaling can help students make sense of how they’re feeling. Whether they're having trouble getting along with a roommate or concentrating in class, a journal can help them understand their triggers and emotions. With a space to record and reflect on their thoughts honestly and without judgement, students can effectively practice self-discovery.

As they come to better understand themselves, they can also discover what environments they thrive in and how to draw on their strengths.

4. Improve Goal Outcomes

Transcribing a goal in a journal can help make it feel more tangible. Students can also use a journal to make sure they are setting SMART goals

A SMART goal meets the following the criteria:

  • Specific: The goal is as clear as possible
  • Measurable: There are clear milestones and benchmarks
  • Achievable: The goal can actually be accomplished
  • Relevant: The goal will provide a benefit
  • Time-bound: The goal has a timeframe

SMART goals set students up for success as they are more likely to be accomplished.  

5. Heighten Creativity

Keeping a journal as a place to engage in stream-of-consciousness writing or even just to doodle is a fantastic way for students to harness creative energy. Expressing their creative side can help students not only express themselves, but also work through difficult emotions.

6. Improve Important Skills

Journaling can boost important skills such as critical thinking, communication and writing ability. A study published in the Journal of Nursing Education concluded that students felt reflective journaling helped them develop critical thinking skills. 

There is also a  strong connection between writing and speaking. Writing down ideas can prepare students to communicate them more clearly and effectively. Journaling can help students become better writers by improving their voice and vocabulary.

7. Improve Academic Performance

One study showed that students who completed learning journals, where they reflected on what they had learned and then applied these learned concepts to the real world and life experiences, performed better on exams. Students have also reported that expressive writing led them to achieve a higher grade point average.

Types of Journals for Students

There are so many great types of journals for your student to experiment with. Remind them that there is no right or wrong way to journal and they don't have to choose a specific journal type. They should feel free to journal in the way that works best for them. 

Here are examples of types of journals that students can keep for personal and/or academic growth.

  • Idea Journal: Ideal for “brain dumping.” Students jot down anything and everything they’re thinking or feeling so that they can process their thoughts and emotions. 
  • Transfer Journal: Helps students draw on specific concepts they’re learning and think about how they will apply them in the future.
  • Double-Entry Journal: Students write down a specific concept or phrase on one side of a notebook and record thoughts about or a reaction to that idea on the other side.
  • Question Journal: Great for students who want to record hard-to-answer personal or academic questions they’re grappling with. 
  • Reading Journal: Students can keep notes on readings for class or a book to help them remember what they read and how it made them feel.
  • 5 W's Journal: Helps students learn new information by allowing them to break it down into the 5 W's (Who, What, When, Where, Why).

Check out the visual below from University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences to find additional types of journals for students as well as prompts for getting started!

Benefits of Journaling Infographic



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