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Success in College

Updated on June 28, 2013

As a current university student, enrolled in my third year of classes I’ve tested every study technique and note-taking tactic the academic advising center would offer me. After realizing how rigorous one semester of college can be on the unsuspecting high school graduate I decided to share some techniques that have helped me to maintain a solid 3.5 gpa amidst a hectic university environment.

Tip #1: The Phone Call Conundrum

Whether you’re a college freshman planning on entering your first semester or a senior nearing your graduation date, one thing is certain as a college student you will experience many bumps on the road to success.When it comes to signing up for classes, registering as a new student, and budgeting for college expenses it is highly likely that you will have several unanswered questions, registration problems and course schedule difficulties along the way. These problems will require you to make multiple phone calls to college departments to get mistakes corrected and questions answered. You must be willing to have 30 minute to 2 hour long phone conversations that, depending on the size of your school will either be extremely tedious or easily handled but are crucial for success in college. Many university departments take multiple phone calls a day and you will find that 90% of the time operators who handle your call are quick to transfer you to different offices where you are prompted to leave a voicemail because the department head is currently unavailable. While leaving a voicemail can sometimes be helpful, it may be several weeks before you receive any follow up. The way to best handle the situation is to be persistent; continue to call until you are transferred to a receptionist who can help you fix your problem that same day. The longer you stick with it the better chance you have of getting the issue handled in a timely fashion.

To sum it up:

· Phone calls should be made on weekdays in the morning or early afternoon for correspondence.

· Be polite but persistent on the phone and let the receptionist know you would like to be transferred to an actual person who can help you resolve your issue as soon as possible otherwise you can be easily overlooked.

Tip #2: Thorough Note-Taking

If I have learned anything in college it is to always arrive to class prepared with required class materials and have a notebook and writing utensil handy. You will find that college classes are formatted differently, some are online based, some are lecture based and some are completely hands on, in my experience the bulk of college courses are lecture based, with lectures lasting anywhere from an hour an a half to in some cases, three hours. Lecture based classes consist primarily of the professor standing in front of the class, teaching students verbally while occasionally asking for the students response. Taking thorough and detailed notes of the most important points covered during lectures will serve as your study guide when it comes time for midterm testing and final exams.

Tip #3: Keep a Calender of Important Deadlines

Keep a visible calendar above your desk or workstation of noteworthy dates you may forget down the road. At the start of the semester you will have several important deadlines thrown at you and it’s impossible to remember them all which is why it is crucial to make a note of important due dates for assignments, textbooks, fees, and registration deadlines.

Tip #4: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS Come to Class On-Time

Arrive to class on time: enough said. Or better yet, come 5 to 10 minutes early to make a good impression on your professor.

Tip #5: Avoid the End of the Semester Slump

Even the best college students at some point experience an end of the semester burn-out and who can blame us, a semester full of endless homework, lectures and all night study sessions can do that to a person. However it’s important to remember that you’re a college student who has come to school to succeed. The end of the semester is the most important part because doing well on final exams is crucial. If you get the urge to slack off on your responsibilities as a student, remind yourself of your end goal. What motivated you to enroll in college in the first place? In the words of Newt Gingrich, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did”.

Symptoms of the End of the Semester Slump: Beware!

· Severe procrastination

· Shorter attention span

· Skipping classes

· Bad grades

· Studying at the last minute

· Poor quality work

· Forgetting about assignments

· Careless attitude

Tip #6: New Textbooks Are For Newbies

College bookstores are notorious for hiking up the budget of required textbooks, after all, they need to make a profit too. My freshman year of college I needed a Spanish textbook that my college bookstore priced at a whopping, 280 dollars! The cost of one hardback textbook can run anywhere from 50 to 300 dollars, now multiply that cost by the 5+ textbooks you will most likely be required to buy. But not to worry there are several options that won’t require you to pay hundreds of dollars for one book. Instead of buying the Spanish textbook from the bookstore I went on and found the exact same one, in good condition for 25 dollars. As soon as you receive your required textbooks list browse websites like ebay and amazon for used textbooks that usually cost a third of the price your college bookstore charges. Another option which I primarily use, is my college’s rental textbook plan which saves me roughly half the cost of buying textbooks new. Look into your schools rental textbook program and read the rules and guidelines, opting for textbook rental is guaranteed to save you hundreds of dollars each semester.

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Tip #7: Enjoy every minute of your college experience... responisbly :)


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