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How to Be Successful in your College Career

Updated on February 28, 2022
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Andrea studied writing and film and writes on various topics, from dating and relationships to astrology, interior design, and gardens.

College is a full time adventure. For many, it is their first step into the adult world, for others they've waited before taking the plunge. You may have to mix your college classes with work, family, relationships, and hobbies, but what you need before taking the plunge is a clear picture of what you want. Know what you would want out of a career path, and find a school that excels with a degree program similar enough to your goals. Pick something that sparks your passions, not someone else's. Remember college is more about your education and studies than your social interests. You may end up deciding to go to graduate or law school, so make the most of your undergraduate career.

1. Be selective about your social groups. Your friends will either want to experiment with a number of goofy things from drugs, alcohol, social experiences, or they will be grounded and focused -- and that this ride is only going to last a handful of years. Try to make friends who have similar visions to you, similar career paths -- because then you'll be making friends who last longer than the occasion.

2. Look for ways to be frugal. Look for free food, ways to ride your bike or walk, constantly apply for scholarships. You should apply for scholarships every semester. Don't be afraid to ask your parents for money. If you are really committed to your goal, then money will come even if a mix of scholarship, grant money, kickstarter money, loans, and parents.

3. Pick classes that can best go with your schedule. If you don't like morning classes, then figure out a way around them. It's nice to have a day off from school during the week. If you like night classes, take them. Night classes are usually friendlier with their students. The MWF classes at 8:00AM, can be unforgiving.

4. Read or other rating professor websites. These can let you know if you are signing up for a good, nice professor or a quack who wants to make your life a living hell, because he feels like that is his job.

5. Get involved with volunteer work. This will look good to your employers if you have some kind of experience. Employers don't always care about the degree, they are interested in the types of experiences you bring to the table.

6. Do all your assignments to the best of your ability. Start as soon as you can. Figure out a way to change your perspective and see homework as fun. I took television and media classes so this was easy to have a positive outlook when the classes honestly were fun.

7. Schedule your time. Write out everything you can on a calendar. Budget your money.

8. Live close to campus. There's a lot of free benefits from campuses that you can usually find such as food, printing, libraries, recreation centers. The resources of a university are built for your convenience, and to draw in students, of course.

9. Know your crap before you take the test. Don't drink the night before and try to take a test hung over. Also, avoid papers that are about experimental college experiences -- they bore your professors.

10. Send your professors kind, grateful emails. If you can find something on a syllabus, don't ask it in an email. Your professor is not required to answer every email that you send. Ask worthwhile questions. Ask questions in class.

11. Don't suddenly splurge on food. Keep a healthy, balanced diet. This will help you feel better about yourself and stay smart.

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12. Don't go home every single weekend. These kids always end up leaving at the end of the semester. If you know you are going to be homesick, find a school close to your family.

13. If you don't want to do something that makes you feel like you are compromising yourself -- don't do it.

14. Attend various school functions. Make connections. A lot of college is about making connections, but don't get so distracted that you forget your studies.

15. Pick a worthwhile major. Always look online at different career websites to see how much salary the job you desire will make. You may love working with children, but do you really only want to make 18,000$ a year? Probably not, once that sinks in.

16. Be nice to the people around you. You have no idea what people are going to be in your classes, what people will teach you, and what opportunities will arise.

17. Schedule your classes sensibly. Try to imagine what those days are going to be like if you schedule five classes in one day. Those better all be enjoyable, interesting classes to you.

18. When you have the option to take a number of different classes for a given requirement, look through ratemyprofessor and the different class codes to see what will present the best, easiest, and most intelligent experience for yourself.

19. Your education does not stop at college. This is a place to focus on your abilities, it is not the end all.

20. Be careful if you have to transfer. Some universities accept credits that others do not.

21. Joining the military and then going to college is a smart idea as the GI bills usually pay for a good portion of college, and the discipline in military usually makes for savvy students.

22. Try meeting people that are unlike yourself. Get involved with the international student programs.

23. Study abroad or take an internship for a semester. Step away from your family and friends that you have built, and do something that challenges you, and maybe even gives you a break from school. Traveling around the world broadens your perspective and can make you a better, more equipped student.

24. Shower.

25. Do make study groups. Do not make study groups that are just social groups.

26. Make flash cards that you can keep beyond your school career.

27. Keep books that are viable to your interests, especially books that are from your major as this will continue to be a resource for you outside of school.

28. Get into a habit of applying yourself, looking for part time jobs, looking for volunteer work, doing taxes, etc.

29. Don't go to class in your pajamas. It may sound like an appealing idea at first, but try to be better dressed than usual -- you are not trying to impress the students around you, you want to set the right image for your professors. Obviously, don't go crazy and start wearing prom dresses to class.

30. Build friendships with professors as these will be people who will write you recommendation letters. Take several classes with the same professors who you enjoy.

31. Be consistent with online classes. Make sure to read the syllabus and stay up to date with all the necessary things you need to do to excel in the class.

32. If you don't understand something, get help. Ask students. Get tutoring. Be active, not sedentary.

33. Take advantage of the recreation centers. Stay fit. Stay healthy.

34. Don't forget to change the oil in your car -- it's an easy thing to forget, and can be quite inconvenient when your car no longer runs.

35. Look for affordable options. If you are getting the same program for half the price, that may be a better deal.

36. Do invite your parents to see your campus. Be on friendly terms with your parents. Even if you have to suck it up, be on good terms with your parents. They may be your roommates after college when you are looking for full time work.

37. Take the time to have a class where you build your own professional resume.

38. Write papers that are close to your passions and were you already have some knowledge. Find the sources first before you start writing. Become knowledgable before you start writing.

39. It's easier to make a good grade on a paper than a test for most people, so take paper writing classes.

40. Do not say negative comments about your professor in the same building as that professor or his or her classroom.

41. Be considerate of your roommates. Be careful not to overstep boundaries with loud music, bad hygiene, excessive dating patterns, being argumentative, etc.

42. Learn to love when to say, "No."

43. Keep your clothes in as good of condition as possible, because you may have the same wardrobe for a very long time.

44. Do laundry. Wash your sheets at least once a month.

45. Don't cry and make a big tantrum to your professor. That's a big no-no.

46. Read the books before class. Engage with the texts. Highlight and underline information that is pertinent. Buy used books that already have important information highlighted and underlined.

47. Spend time in the library. Work on their computers if you do not have one. Always car earbuds around in case you have to jump on a computer and need music to drown out other noise.

48. Carry on you at all times: wallet, student ID, phone, earbuds, and flashdrive.

49. Never drink and drive.

50. Don't go to several parties in a week.

51. Turn your cellphone off when studying. Don't get distracted by texting and phone calls.

52. Setup a savings account.

© 2014 Andrea Lawrence


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