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7 Tips to Help You Succeed in College

Updated on August 1, 2011
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!

No skimping!!
No skimping!!

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.

Seriously- studying can be an enjoyable activity.  What's more fun than reading on the lawn?  Ok... maybe skydiving... but this is pretty nice too.
Seriously- studying can be an enjoyable activity. What's more fun than reading on the lawn? Ok... maybe skydiving... but this is pretty nice too.

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!


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    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Congrats on returning to school, HoneyBB! That's super exciting- and the degree you're getting will be super useful! I'm glad you find these tips to be relevant and helpful. I can't say how much of a difference my elliptical study sessions have made!

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Helen Laxner 5 years ago from Illinois

      Simone, I am returning to school once again because I love it so much. I am going for an Associate in Applied Science for Graphic Design with the hope that I will not only be able to land a job in a field that I'm pretty sure I will enjoy but also that I might use what I learn here on HubPages to improve my articles and that I might not have to struggle so much with copywrite laws of borrowing others images. Anyhow, your suggestions will be very helpful for me in the coming days and months. I especially like the elliptical studying plan which I never even thought of but I will also be starting up again at the gym to lose weight and I'm so glad I read this now so I can kill two birds with one stone! I will definitely be getting a lot of use out of your suggestions! Thank you!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Well said, Knightheart; you're quite right.

    • Knightheart profile image

      Knightheart 7 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      Wow, you hit the nail on the head with this article! I did all the things you mentioned in this article and graduated Magna Cum Laude at my university. Everything you mentioned is a piece of the puzzle for not just getting through college, but graduating with high grades and honors. Believe me, your first employer will scrutinize your college transcripts with a microscope when you apply for that first job after graduating. Four years of hard work...use it to your advantage!!!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for reading, johnmyothiha!

    • profile image

      johnmyothiha 7 years ago

      really helpful information, thanks for sharing, Simone Smith.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Well, technically he can succeed by pushing through classes and working hard anyway, but he would do much better, mentally and work-wise, if he cared about what he's doing. It's hard, isn't it... when parents are the ones holding the purse strings =_=

    • GreatSiteBabbler profile image

      GreatSiteBabbler 7 years ago from WorldWideWeb

      Sorry, if I sound 'out of the track' but... What if one who is passionate about Animations or Fashion Design but unfortunately under parent's pressure tends to sacrifice his passion and end up opting for the one he is not interested like engineering and all. So my question is: "Will he STILL succeed?"

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh, congrats to your son on being so close to graduating! It's an exciting time. I hope he takes full advantage of on-campus resources while he can!

    • seanorjohn profile image

      seanorjohn 7 years ago

      Great advice about taking full advantage of the services on campus and knowledge of tutors. I will forward this link to my son who is in his last year and could still learn from this advice.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      Mkami Florian 7 years ago

      perfect piece of advice

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Hahaa- thanks Lilijen23 and kaltopsyd!!

      Though I really AM not that sharp. I see it this way- academia is a game, and if you play it well, it's easy to win! The only problem is that we often forget to look up the rules @_@

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      Yes, congratulations on getting your degree and graduating with honors. You don't SOUND dumber than a bag 'o hammers. :D

      Great tips. I definitely find a lot of benefits in sitting in front (and centre). Oh and actually reading the material is a great idea. Not like high school where you can just go to class and pass by mere luck. Great Hub.

    • liljen23 profile image

      liljen23 7 years ago from Shreveport,LA

      Wow and congrats on getting your degree and graduating with honors.. this is an inspirational hub..

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco


    • girlincape profile image

      Kasey Rubenstein 7 years ago from California

      Too true. Congrats on getting your degree!