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How can I be successful in College?

Updated on February 6, 2013

College Success

How can I be successful in college you ask? Well, luckily for you I am going to answer just that. First and foremost I would like to congratulate you as you are taking the necessary steps to succeed. This is probably the most important asset for succeeding in college as well in life. That is the will to learn and to further better yourself in and out of the classroom. Right now, you may be saying; “Well, I am not very smart” In which I will need to stop you there. I know plenty of people that do well in school that are not smart. It is not sheer brains that get you through school, but, it is your ability to follow direction and take action. Yes, being smart will help immensely, but, if you do not have the will to succeed then you will not do very well.

Core Principals

What do I know about doing well in school you may begin to wonder. First off, I have been on all levels of academic success and failure. When I first started high school, I didn’t take to following authority very well. In other words I would often not complete my homework assignments in which case led to failing the classes. I would often find my summers retaking the required courses. Now, I was always considered bright, which is why many of my friends were shocked when they would find out I was failing a particular subject. What began to turn my grades around was my goal of becoming a US Marine. Obviously, I could not enlist without a high school diploma so I knew I needed to succeed. This brings us to our first tip. Make sure you create goals for yourself and track how you are getting there and what you need to do to achieve that goal. It may be the difference between failing and passing. It sounds cliché I know, but, if you really want something it will truly guide you to success.

The Marine Corps quickly instilled all the right aspects I needed to succeed in school and in life. Some of these aspects I am going to pass onto you today so you too can be successful. Discipline and the ability to follow orders verbatim is some of the things you will need to succeed in school. Some professors are very lax with their guidelines. But, you cannot bet you will get one of these professors and eventually you will come across one who is strict. Being able to follow precise orders is needed as it may cost you valuable points. There is a big difference between a B+ and an A- when grade point average is concerned. Make sure you know exactly what the professor wants you to do with the assignment. If you are like me, you may question why they want it that way and may feel as if your way is better. But, no matter what you think, that is not the assignment. You’ll want to do it how they want and if you don’t understand simply ask.

Some professors do a bad job at explaining themselves as they feel the students should simply figure it out themselves. It is quite irritating to come across these types of professors as you feel you should be being taught not told what to do. It will help you to find someone who has taken that professor before who can explain what they want from you. This is the best way to deal with this scenario. It can be quite difficult to find someone who has taken that particular course if you’re not from the area. This will lead us to our next tip which is extremely important in school, be social.

The Importance of Networking

Making connections is a great way to get ahead. Most of the time what you cannot figure out someone else will. If you have been talking to them they will be able to pass on this valuable advice. They will also be able to tell you who the “Good” and “Bad” professors are. Keep in mind this will be strictly opinionated and you may want to find more credible sources. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will show up to every class. You will want to get notes from those classes that you missed and a brief synopsis of the day. These notes can mean everything as some professors allow you to use them on tests. In one of my classes we were allowed to use study guides and even if you contribute a little to someone else’s study guide this may be enough for you to get a copy. You don’t have to like them, but, what a wise man once told me is; “Each person has something good to take away from them. You may dislike them, but, take what you like and utilize it to make yourself better. You will then become who you want to be.” You may not like them, but, they may get you a good grade or at least a passing one.

You just don’t want to be social to those in your class, but, you will want to ensure that you participate. This is a great asset that you have as many professors offer participation points. They may also sympathize for you when you’re absent, bump your grade up to the next letter grade and also make the class less boring. It really does make the time go by quickly and can make the course fun. You will want to ensure you don’t distract the other students away from what is being taught. All too often you have the one individual that wants to argue with the professor. Don’t be this person; it will upset the students and your professor. One of my professors had allowed me to retake my final for a better grade. Originally, I had achieved a B+ when I really wanted an A.

Perseverance in Life and College

This brings me to the next tip. Don’t settle for anything less than your worth. This isn’t just something for school but in life too. If you know you are capable of achieving an A don’t neglect to do it. As I stated earlier, that final might make all the difference between a 3.0 and a 2.9. Which one sounds better to you? Trust me, it isn’t just to you but also to employers as a B is above average and a C+ is really just average. Do you want to say I am average or above average? This being said, make sure to put in the extra work. It really may be easier than you think. This will also help build up your participation too. If your professor offers extra credit take advantage of it as no one is perfect. You are human and bound to make an error at some point. This being said that extra credit can be your safety net to the best attainable grade.

Now, I have had some professors that had optional homework that you could turn in for extra credit. Do it, not only will it help your points but it will help you understand the concepts. This is especially true for math as remembering the formulas will help you succeed on tests. If you don’t, you will most likely do worse. Now, I have come across some whiz kids who can learn it once and ace tests. I’m not sure about you, but, I am not one of them. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition! Math is an easy subject as long as you are able to follow the exact order of steps. If you are still having troubles understanding the main concepts go to the Math Lab and someone will be sure to help you. The more you study, the better you will do.

Studying Equals Success

I’m not going to lie to you, I didn’t have to study to much. Some professors will want you to know concepts over terms and vocabulary. It is important that you know what they will be testing. This being said, if you know you have a test on Monday, the chances of there being a review on Friday will be quite good. So if you are one to miss class it might be a good idea to show up Friday as well as Monday. If you’re an average person, chances are there may just be some things you can’t pass. No matter what you do. You may feel like you want to quit or withdraw from the class. Let me tell you right now, if there is even a remote chance you are able to pass, stick to it. I had tried to withdraw from a class, but, had missed the deadline. I was depressed about this, but, I continued to go to the class and I ended up with a B. Now, if you believe this was some sort of anomaly, trust me, I thought the same thing. The next semester I was struggling with another class and I had been on a gradual decline since it started. I decided to take the final anyway and ended up with a D+ (My worst grade so far). But, it hurt a lot less than a failing grade would have.

To this day my GPA is a 3.0, now I’m not a genius nor do I have a learning disability. But, take it from me, the guy who didn’t do great in high school who is not obtaining a B average. If I can do it, so can you. Whether its high school, community college, technical school or a prestigious university these tips will assuredly help you. I also guarantee you will have more of a pleasurable experience while you’re there. Make sure you stop by continuously as I am always updating my articles with new and useful information.


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