7 Tips on How to Suceed in College

Image from myfootpath.com

Image from myfootpath.com

College can be a time of difficulty and transition. Even for those who have taken AP courses in high school, the style and assignments of college-level courses can be a challenge. Over the years, certain student practices have been singled out by various college faculties, the media, and college students. In this blog, I will highlight seven methods to help ease the load of college academics.

Plan Ahead and Look at the Syllabus
There are few feelings worse for a college student than sitting down in class and learning that a big project was due. Being one step ahead of the game is crucial to not only getting assignments done but having them done well. If five projects are due on Friday, procrastination could lead to doing it all on Thursday night, powered only by a half dozen Red Bulls and the desire to not fail. Planning is the adversary of procrastination though it does not necessarily mean doing all assignments insanely early. In fact, doing assignments the night before is not necessarily bad when in the right context. Planning is a means to an end. If done right, it can help lighten the load and the stress that inevitably comes with it.

Try to Focus on the Task at Hand
Focus is another critical element of the college experience, particularly when it comes to studying. Finding a good environment to study can make all the difference between fully digesting course material and not retaining the information. This means different things to each person. For some, having music in the background while studying helps them concentrate. For others, silence is best. Some prefer to study in the library while others do best in the comfort of their own rooms. It’s all a matter of preference but it can have an effect on productivity.

Take Care of Yourself
College isn’t just a place to study and pursue education; having fun is important, too. Studying too much can cause a student to burnout and lose motivation. A big part of having a successful academic experience is finding a balance between school and social life. Set aside time each day for you to do what you enjoy whether that’s videogames, going to parties, watching movies, or listening to music. In addition to feeding your pastimes, you should also give yourself enough sleep to function. For some that’s more than others but a good goal would be six to eight hours a day.

Challenge Yourself.
John F. Kennedy once said, “We choose to go to the moon…not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard.” This idea should used when approaching coursework as well. Taking challenging courses helps us grow in relation to our chosen fields. College is not only a means to transfer occupational information but a form of intellectual exercise. Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman describe successful students as “intellectually energetic” and engaged with their courses. Such a mindset warrants viewing difficult assignments or classes as opportunities rather than inconveniences.

Be Engaged in Class
Just as finding a good place to study can help in grasping information, paying attention in class is a good way to help absorb more from one’s course. Being attentive and present during class allows you to get the most out of school and to have the notes that make tests much easier to study for. You don’t need to show up to every class. If you do find the need to skip a class you should check on your professor’s stance on absences. Some professors are far stricter than others. In some cases, I’ve had professors allow three penalty-free skips per semester while others would say that three skips would result in failing the class. Getting on the professor’s good side certainly helps so being in class as often as you can and participating can be a wise move.

Be Open to Criticism and Learn From Mistakes
Learning from mistakes is a great way to progress as a future professional. Mistakes, in a way, are as crucial as the classes themselves because they identify what you need to work on. For instance, through feedback from a literary paper I did, I was able to learn of my problems with formatting my works cited page. Though small, this constructive criticism helped develop me further as an English major. Sometimes it hurts having a paper returned with a heavy dose of red ink, but it is important to take any constructive criticism from professors as opportunities to advance.

All in all, the cornerstone of successful academics is being able to prioritize. Choosing what is most important is the key to balancing out life on campus. All of these elements work together on some level but prioritization is ultimately what guides each of these decisions. Prioritization and self control walk hand in hand as they often require you to do something significantly less fun (unless your passion lies in academics in which case you’re set). It takes time and practice. I only started to get the hang of really putting school above other aspects of my life when I hit a twenty-credit semester in my senior year. All of these suggestions have a large amount of flexibility as each person has a specific approach that suits them best. Nonetheless, these are some that I found to be helpful and which other universities’ faculties have suggested as well.

Works Cited

Jacobs, Lynn. “The 15 Habits of Top College Students.” Wash Coll. Washington College, n.d. Web. 13 Mar 2015.
“John F. Kennedy Moon Speech.” ER. NASA, n.d. Web. 13 Mar 2015.
Urban, Kristine. “What It Really Takes to be a Successful College Student.” Rasmussen. Rasmussen College, 29 Jan 2014. Web. 13 Mar 2015.

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