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How to be Successful in College

Updated on December 31, 2012
Study in a room that encourages academia.
Study in a room that encourages academia. | Source

Being successful in college is going to take a lot of hard work (of course!) and practice. Here are some tips to give you an idea of what you should focus on in trying to be successful.

Organize your time

Balance your academics, social life and extracurricular activities. You can do this with a planner or some sort of calendar. There's an awesome online calendar that google provides, where it can work like a calendar, allowing you to plan out your every hour

Get involved!

If there are extra activities, organizations and clubs you can join and be apart of- do it. Your GPA play an important role in what kind of job you'll land or whether or not you'll get a place in graduate school- but it's not all about GPA. For instance, as a physics major, I chose to start doing research project early- even if they're not as deep in theory as the upperclassmen. I'm just trying to get my toes wet.

Be focused

This involves always going to class, taking good notes and reviewing them for as long as you need. Do not study in your room- due to the kind of environment a bedroom creates, this is not an optimal place for you to study. Try the library, a study room, outside if it's nice- avoid your room if you can.

Look for good professors

Seek them out. When its registration time and you're looking at classes- research ALL of your professors. is the site to search for your professor. Students who have had this professor previously will rate them on easiness, clarity and helpfulness. This will allow you to choose a professor that's right for you. And yes- there is such thing as a badprofessor. It's actually hard to find a good professor, but I'm lucky enough to have found quite a few.

Know what you can do

Know what your limits are. If you really feel like a class is just out of your grasp- that you just can't get it, then withdraw from it. It's for your own good. Maybe you need to retake some of the previous classes that come before the class you're struggling in. Perhaps you're just not prepared yet.

Usually- it's not that a class is beyond your reach. It's the major lack of studying skills. High-school has taught students very poor studying skills. For instance, math classes teach you some theory and do some problems. Then those same exact problems are placed on tests or quizzes with different numbers. Or, there are questions on a test of quiz with pretty much identical structure.

Make friends with the right people

Make friends with people who have the right attitude towards school. Hang out with smart people, who will challenge you- and will have more to to talk about than drinking over the weekend. This will encourage you to study and do well. Do underestimate the power of peer pressure.


So, you've probably heard the rule of thumb- study about 3 hours for every 1 hour of class. Most college students do all their assignments and studying within 1-2 hours every night. College professors actually expect you to study for about 3 hours for every class. This does not include you doing the assignments either. So if you have a paper for history, and you need to study for that same history class- those are two separate things entirely. Doing your paper does not count as your time towards studying. And when you study- make sure it's quality studying.

Having the right mindset

You take out of college exactly what you put in. If you're doing poorly in college and not being as successful as you hoped to have been- then you need to work harder. College separates the people who just want something and who will work hard for that thing they want.


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  • nurseleah profile image

    Leah Wells-Marshburn 4 years ago from West Virginia

    Absolutely! Excellent point.

  • mariexotoni profile image

    mariexotoni 4 years ago

    Good point about the ratemyprofessor. I still would recommend that site, because it's not just disgruntled students who will rate a professor. I think it is a good site though if there are a lot of ratings on a professor, then you can generally get an idea of what they're like. Also it's better to see what course that person has taken with that professor- if it is a 100 level course, I'm less likely to trust that person. However if there are several people that are in a 300 level course with a particular professor and that professor is getting negative reviews, I'm more likely to trust them.

  • nurseleah profile image

    Leah Wells-Marshburn 4 years ago from West Virginia

    I think this is great advice. I am a college professor, and I wish more students were proactive in their approach to college. I would like to caution people about sites like RateMyProfessor, simply because disgruntled students are more likely to seek out a way to get back at a teacher and therefore, more likely to post on those sites. Talking to other students at the college can sometimes give better insight. Even asking the advisor who is helping to register for classes can sometimes be a better option, if the student trusts that person's judgment. Personally, I try to tell students if I know a professor who is excellent at their content and presentation. I don't provide any negative information about those who I don't know or am unsure of, but I will say, "A lot of students I know have been very successful in Dr. Richard's class. They seem to enjoy him. I can't really say about Dr. Price, because I don't know him." I would never bad-mouth another professor, but I won't say a professor is good unless I've heard it from a lot of other students.

  • KatSanger profile image

    Katherine Sanger 4 years ago from Texas

    Good advice, but I have to say that sometimes websites like "Rate My Professor" is not always accurate. Another option is to see if the school provides the syllabi for classes online ahead of time. This is a great way to be prepared and know if you want to be involved in the class.