10 Tips to Guarantee College Success

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When you start college, your goal is always to be successful. You want to get good grades and learn a lot.  College is a big investment of time and money so you want to make sure that neither are wasted.  But how can you make sure to guarantee college success?

These 10 tips will get you on the right path!

  1. Study Location

While you might take advantage of the time that you spend on the bus or sitting in a café by cramming in some on the go study time, it’s important to have a more efficient location for studying.  You need to find a place where you have quiet, minimal interruptions, and all the resources that you might need handy.  That means the kitchen table is likely out of the question. 

Your college campus can be a good place to start.  Libraries and resources centers are usually open late on most campus and they have all the tools you’ll need to be efficient.  There are resource books and research materials convenient to you and they are quiet.  There’s also usually a librarian or a resource coordinator to help if you need them.  You may also find empty classrooms to be handy.  Stay away from student lounges though unless you’re willing to be interrupted by other students.

If you want to study at home, try to set up a quiet area where other members of the family will know that they should not interrupt you.  If the kitchen table is empty and everyone is gone from the house, that can work, but usually it is best to have a desk of your own in your bedroom or in an empty room in the house.

  1. Set a Schedule

Make sure that you set aside time each day to work and study your course material.  That way you will not get behind.  Once you get behind it is very hard to get caught up.  If you’re behind in your studies it can get very discouraging and it is easy to make excuses to put it off for just one more day. Also, if you stay up to date with your studies and the reading material, you’ll have less cramming to do come test time.  If you have a schedule, cramming should not be necessary.

  1. Be Ready to Ask for Help

There will come a time when you have material that you just don’t understand or that needs extra explanation. Don’t struggle with it for too long.  If you struggle you’ll get behind and you’ll get frustrated.  Ask a fellow student or an instructor or teacher’s aide for help.  Use the school’s resource center.  Check out resources at the back of your text book.  Some schools offer tutoring sessions.  The university I went to had a statistics lab for first and second year students and it was staffed by senior students that volunteered their time for extra credit.  If you are not sure what options your school has, ask the professor or go to the school resource center to find out.

  1. Get Organized

If this is your first year at school, you will be amazed at how much you have to juggle.  It’s hard to completely avoid the social life on campus (and you shouldn’t – it is part of the college experience!).  Many students today have families or jobs to manage on top of school.  Find a way to get organized and stay that way.  Smartphones have many apps that can help you with this. Since your phone is always with you it makes it easier to handle all the things that you have to juggle.  A paper planner can work well, too, if that is your preference, but it can get bulk to carry around.  Plan ahead and it will be easier to manage your time and the things you need to have with you to get things done.

  1. Self-care

Yes, you need to think about taking care of yourself if you want to be successful in college.  It’s good preparation for later in life when you start your career, too.  You need three basic things – food, exercise, and sleep.  If you don’t get those three things, your brain won’t work as well and you’ll find yourself forgetting things and suffering emotionally and physically.  There may be the time when you need to pull an all-nighter but make sure that you compensate for that by getting exercise and food. Then get the sleep you need after.  When you take care of your mind and your body, you’ll find it much easier to manage your college life.

  1. Be Prepared

Know ahead of time what you need to do before each class.  Make sure you read material.  Review notes.  Jot down questions and answer them for yourself before the next class.  If you’re prepared for each class it is much easier to understand the material.

  1. Textbook Make a Good Guide

Your textbook is organized a certain way for a reason.  Look at headings and subheadings of books to see the organizational structure.  The table of contents can also help.  Even when you don’t have time to read, looking at these three things can help you absorb material easier when you do the readings.  Examples, graphs, and pictures can also help you preview the material and these things are often found on exams.

  1. Learn to be an Active Studier

If you sit down and just try to memorize the material for your course you’re going to get bored and distracted.  Active studying helps you absorb material better.  Take notes as you read and use your own words.  Use a highlighter to bring out important info.  Create charts and graphs.  The more activity in your studying the more you will find that you remember.

  1. Review Actively

Index cards are a great way to actively review the material for your courses; questions on one side, answers on the other.  If you carry these around with you, it will give you the chance to study while you’re on the go.  Actively reviewing class material can be done in even 5 minute blocks of time and can be very efficient.  It’s also a great way to work with a partner.  When you discuss class material with someone else it is easier to remember.  You’ll hear their voice in your head when you take the test.  It’s amazing how helpful working with others can be.

  1. Learn About Different Kinds of Tests

The most common kind of test in college is the multiple choice test.  There are a lot of ways that these tests can confuse you if you don’t know what to look for.  Essay tests can also be hard because if you waste too much time writing, you won’t get full marks for not fully answering the questions.  It’s a good idea to take out a book from the library that will help you learn more about the different kinds of tests that you might take in college and how to approach them.

Above all, when you are taking a test or exam, make sure to read the instructions completely!  Many students lose marks or even fail tests because they didn’t take the time to fully read the question and answer wrong.

 


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