Worried About Doing Well at College? Here's 10 Tips!

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You’re off to college and you want to be sure that you are successful – after all, you are making a pretty big investment of both time and money.  You don’t want it to go to waste.  If you want to be sure to be successful at college, apply these 10 tips:

1. Find a good location for studying.  Cafes, buses, and your busy kitchen table are not likely the best places to absorb information.  You need a quiet place where you can work undisturbed.  Libraries are ideal and the library on you campus is likely open during school hours and may be open into the evening, too.  Empty classrooms are sometimes available to students.  Your kitchen table might be a good place to study if you can find a time of the day when no one is at home or while everyone else is still sleeping.

2. Be consistent.  If you study and do course work every day it will be easy to keep up.  If you start putting off your work to do other things you will soon get behind.  The more the work piles up the more discouraged you will get and the less motivated you will be do actually do it.  Before you know it you’ll be pulling late nights to catch up and cramming for tests because of all the work that didn’t get done.

3. Get help when you need it. Don’t struggle too long with an assignment or a concept that you don’t understand. The longer you struggle with it the more frustrated you will get.  Most schools have resources when you need help or you can go to your teacher or a fellow student that is doing well in the course.

4. Stay organized.  The life of a student can be incredibly busy.  Many students have families and jobs on top of their school work.  Plan ahead to succeed.  You can use a physical paper planner and carry it with you or you might want to use a planning app through your iPhone or tablet.  Make sure you plan for time to study!

5. Take care of yourself. Everyone needs a few basic things – sleep, food, exercise – and when you don’t get those things your brain doesn't work as well as it should.  You may think that you can pull all-nighters but your body and brain beg to differ!  If you take care of yourself you will comprehend your coursework better and have better memory retention!

6. Be prepared for class.  Make sure you do the readings ahead of time.  Take notes.  Listen carefully for the teacher’s emphasis on key points as those are often questions on tests and exams. Jot down questions as you read so that you are able to ask questions after lectures.

7. Look to your textbook for organization.  The table of contents and the headings and subheadings in your book can help you see the most useful information.  Pictures, graphs, and examples are often used for test or exam questions.

8. Study actively.  Just reading is boring and you won’t retain as much as you will if you study actively.  Make notes (don’t just copy text though – read, then summarize in your own words), highlight key information, create your own examples and charts.  Active learning makes it easier to remember information.

9. Review.  Create practice questions for studying what you have already learned.  Index cards are great for this.  Write a question on one side, try to answer it, and then check your answer on the back. These can be used anywhere and are great for 5 minute blocks of time when you are in between tasks.  You can even use these while you’re doing dishes, cooking dinner, or on the bus.

10. Pay attention to test instructions.   It is easy to make a mistake if you are you are nervous and not paying attention to what the question is asking.  Before answering a question make sure you understand the question!