Survival Kit for Academic Success
Are you looking ahead and thinking about college success tips, skills, and strategies? This is the place! Is there a college survival guide or survival kit - filled with supplies, ideas, concepts, and the secret knowledge to succeed in higher education? The college success tips, stories, and ideas presented here are time-tested approaches mixed with solid common-sense, and will definitely help you meet the challenges of all your educational goals.
College Success Tips
- Be present, go to class. This may seem really obvious but scheduling, logistics, poor-planning, distractions, and sometimes even the hidden fear of failure-- will keep students from going to their classes. If you just go to class, show up, make the effort, and ‘be present’, you will find that you can build your college success one course at a time. (Getting there on time helps too!)
- Don’t completely rely on your memory. Many students believe that if they just listen and understand a topic or concept, then they have acquired it. The mistake here is not to trust only your memory, but write things down -- even if you’re the only one in your class taking notes! I love my laptop, but I still recommend the paper and pen approach for note-taking because it seems more permanent in your mind when you actually wrote it down yourself! You can always transfer your notes into electronic form later, which will serve as good test review.
- Focus -- in class, and elsewhere. Multi-tasking is a great skill to have, but students who learn to focus on one thing at a time, and focus on that task until completion, will do very well in college, and in life! While you are in class stay focused on the content, the lecture, the material, and the ongoing discussions of the class, and reduce the number of distractions. A smart phone, laptop, or tablet is cool, but if checking email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, surfing the web (even secretly in the back of the classroom) means that your grades suffer, it’s not worth it. Even if your mind wanders, refocus yourself on the matters at hand, and you will avoid a lot of unnecessary stress at exam time. This applies to study time in the dorm or library research time as well -- it’s too easy to waste three hours in the library surfing the web or looking around on social media sites like Facebook. You will find that over time you will become a better listener and this will aid you in all aspects of your life.
- Find support from others. The college experience is tough, but rewarding. Remember that what is difficult for you is likely a challenge for others around you, so connect to your classmates to get and give support. Socializing is part of college, and it can be a great way for you to feel connected to your campus. Realize that you can also ask faculty, resident assistants, departmental staff for help if you need it, and many have posted offices hours for just such purposes. Colleges and universities also pride themselves on having an array of student support offices that range from reading/writing centers and course tutoring, to help from a number of academic, health, clergy, and counseling professionals.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. College students who drop out or flunk out of school are not ready for their quizzes, exams, homework, labs, or even being called on in classroom discussions. Always prepare for your morning the night before (or earlier), and you will succeed in college. Break down your large, overwhelming responsibilities (i.e., a 25-page paper, 15-minute class presentation) into smaller goals, and then prepare, plan, and accomplish each in more manageable amounts. Pace yourself!
- Look at all of your college problems as challenges. The college years are both for academic AND personal growth. Whether it is a bad grade on a mid-term, problems with your dorm roommate, or transportation on weekends, each challenge in college can be solved with unnecessary stress and turmoil. Approach them one at a time, and calmly, and the challenges will surely build character, and add to your personal growth. Even if you decide that you don't like your choice of college major, you can choose another one and likely apply most of the classes as requirements or electives in your new choice.
- Un-clutter your life. It’s only natural to feel stressed if your dorm, your closet, your car, your notebooks -- even the desktop on your computer-- are all completely chaotic! If you keep things simple, (or even mildly organized) you will find it easier to concentrate on the task at hand, and get things done. Even the simple idea of putting away all distractions can help your focus. (Don’t leave Nintendo Wii remotes or other game controllers on your study desk! Put them in a drawer for later...)
- College Supplies. The simpler the better... You graduated high school-- you know that just a couple of pens, a good notebook, and a folder for handouts is probably all that you need to succeed. It's actually better to wait and see what makes sense for each class, and then just buy it from the campus book store once you're in college, than to buy every office supply product you can think of! Certain majors like finance, graphic design, engineering, music, or others might have very specific recommendations for tools and supplies, including even very specific computer, laptop, or software recommendations. If your college or department recommends a Mac laptop or a certain configuration Dell or HP computer for your major, assume that there is a very specific reason. Check your college or department's website as this information is likely clearly posted.
So... congratulations! You researched some colleges, applied, and got accepted. (Hopefully, you even chose a reasonable priced college or university!) You filed your FAFSA form, and even got financial aid or scholarships. You sent in your deposit, bought your books -- and now you want to succeed in college. This list of College Success Skills and Tips will surely serve as a survival kit for academic and student success. It is something to keep on your wall, on your computer, or print out and keep with your textbooks.