I just finished four years at a university and graduated at the top of my class with a 3.99 and more special awards than I was capable of hauling home in checked luggage. Am I a genius? Heck no! I'm dumber than a bag 'o hammers, but I did
stick to some basic principles that really really
paid off in the end- check them out below- then maybe you too
can end up with a 20-pound crystal clock and four shiny plaques!
Sit Front and Center
This is one of the simplest and easiest things one can do, and it really pays off. The professors see you, you're more likely to pay attention, and you're less distracted by the YouTube videos silently playing on the students laptop screens in front of you.
Get to Know Your Professors
It does not matter if your intro to sociology class is 500 people large- you need to meet your professor! Obviously this is easy to do in smaller class formats, but it is still possible to meet professors teaching larger sections via the use of office hours. Introduce yourself in person, ask questions in and out of class, and take advantage of email in addition to office hours and pre/post class time. This will help you better understand what your professor expects from his or her students, it will make it easier to ask for letters of recommendation in the future, and it will help you develop a strong network. What's more, most professors are really cool people!
Actually Read the Material
Much to my surprise, I learned in college that not everyone reads required material for their classes. In fact, a great number of students don't even bother to buy required textbooks. These same students are often surprised when they get poor marks... go figure. All I can say is this- if you read the material, you'll be able to do well in the class. Even if
your professor does not pull test questions from your textbook, your knowledge of class reading material will distinguish you from your non-literate classmates as a stellar student and help you produce superior work. Yeah, reading takes time, and yeah, textbooks can get pretty dry, but it's all part of the game. It might also help you learn something
. Imagine that!
Build Study Time into Your Regular Schedule
Working on research, term papers, and all other assignments is a drag when have something better to do. For this reason, it helps to build studying into your everyday schedule so that (1) you get things done early, reducing the need for extra work and stress around deadlines, and (2) you don't feel like you're missing out when you have to cancel other fun things to block out study time.
Make Study & Homework Sessions FUN
I like to make studying as pleasant as possible, so I tend to take work to parks and cafes, or get reading done while working out. Over my four years of college, I conditioned myself to do all of my textbook reading on an elliptical. Before long, I began to associate studying with a pleasant endorphin rush. By junior year, I would keep on studying even when I had nothing more to read- just because I wanted my endorphin rush, and couldn't imagine being on an elliptical without a book! In the end, I got everything I wanted- a good understanding of class material, a fit body, and a happy brain!
Utilize On-Campus Resources
Seriously! You're paying
for them, aren't you? So USE THEM!! Utilize seminars, career counseling, lectures, advising, and anything else you can get your hands on. On-site college and university resources actually make a difference, and they're also a means of getting to know the school's staff, who are the best experts when it comes to circumventing burdensome university bureaucracies.
College only lasts so long- you should fully utilize the resources it offers. Partying can continue post-grad. Access to a litany of convenient on-campus advising services will typically end.
Follow Your Passions
The worst kind of college student is an indifferent one. Go after what excites you- whether it be basket weaving class or involvement in an indie on-campus radio program. You are free to change your mind and flit about- just don't let yourself get bored. College is all about finding yourself- so look! If you behave passionately and engage with the academic community, you'll find that success is simply a pleasant byproduct.
I hope this helps. Have fun!