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Tips for Succeeding in College
1. Plan. After you have decided that a college degree in a subject that you enjoy will open doors to a future filled with opportunities, then go for it. Put the semester into perspective. Set goals and priorities.
a. Long range goals-Think about the kind of life you want ten years from today. What matters to you?
b. Short range goals-- Set semester goals. After the first class meeting, take all of your syllabi and put important due dates for essays, projects, tests, research papers, etc., on your calendar or in your planner. Begin work on the assignments the day they are made. Your success in life will often depend on your ability to set priorities.
2. Plan some more. Make a schedule for one week, accounting for 24 hours in each day. Allow for sleep, meals, travel, time to park on campus, work, other obligations, chores, class time, at least two to three hours of study time per hour you spend in class for each course. For example, if you are taking a course that is hard for you, then you may need to study 3 to 4 hours out of class for each hour you spend in class. The minimum time you should study per hour you spend in class is two hours. Part of that time should be spent reviewing the previous lesson and part of it should be spent focusing on the new lesson. On these schedule sheets, write where you will be studying for each subject. Part of your study time will be spent doing research and working on assignments that are due later in the semester.
3. Go to class, every class. Students who have signed up for classes, thus making a commitment of time, money, effort, and lifestyle change, often have a cavalier attitude toward attending class. The fact that you can miss a class is not an indication that you should. College instructors notice when you are absent and often take your absences as a sign of slackness. College classes cover much more material in a short time than high school classes.
4. Go to class prepared. Do the reading. If you don't understand the concept, be able to ask specific questions. Be able to show that you have tried.
5. Do your homework. Some students just don't. They are too cool to do homework. Then they find themselves so far behind that their frustration level takes over. Do not create your own stress. Don't be the one sitting in the exam wondering how you missed so much.
6. Participate in class. Ask questions. Most students find that they get out of a class what they put into it.
7. Always be able to see the forest. If you let too many little trees (a spur of the moment beach trip, a big party right before a test, driving to Atlanta with a buddy when you know you should be reading that novel) get in your way. Keep your priorities in order; stay on track. Don't get so overwhelmed that you lose sight of what you came to college to do in the first place. There are only 24 hours in a day. You have to be strong enough to say "NO!" emphatically to your friends. Realize that you do not have money to waste. College can be an expensive "do over." The expression "Keep your eyes on the prize" may seem trite, but it is worth remembering.
8. Finish what you start. Set deadlines for yourself. Reward yourself when you finish a project, but not before. Stick to your calendar, but build in your own down time. If you have season's football tickets, plan your study time around game time and tailgating. If you like to hunt and fish, plan for it. Do you sense a theme here? If you are not a good planner when you come to college, learn to be one quickly. Calendars, sticky notes, or more sophisticated electronic calendars are must haves.
9. Observe your classmates. Choose your friends wisely. Identify students that would make good study partners. Ask if they are interested. Talk with students who do well in class. Ask the professor if he or she will ask the class if any students are interested in forming a study group?
10. Talk to the most important person in each of your classes--the instructor. Get to know these interesting people. Tutors are often amazed that many students never think to ask their instructors questions. The instructors are your best line of knowledge.