Headed off to school for the first time this fall? If you’re wondering how to be successful in college, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re like most students, you probably have no idea what it takes to be successful as a college student. Sure, you know that you need to get good grades – but what about when it comes to navigating the rest of the ins and outs of college life?

Going to college is an exciting time – you have plenty of people to meet, events to attend, and things to experience. It can also be overwhelming. Follow these tips to learn how to be successful in college.

Being Successful In College

How To Be Successful In College

Don’t Be A Wallflower

This first tip may sound a bit abrasive, but it’s essential regardless of the setting – which is why we’ve chosen to include it first. You need to make yourself known on campus, both in a social and academic setting. 

That’s not to say that you have to be loud or obnoxious. You just need to step slightly outside of your comfort zone in order to appreciate all the best that college life has to offer. By making your presence known and getting to know the right people on campus (particularly your professors, various staff members, and your fellow classmates), you’ll be able to participate in college life to the fullest.

After all, when it comes to getting a job after college, many graduates report that it wasn’t necessarily their great grades or exceptional resume that got them noticed – it was who they knew. 

Successful In College - Don't Be A Wallflower

Maximize Campus Resources

College is different from high school – you are on your own. 

However, you aren’t totally on your own. When you go to college, there are all kinds of campus resources that can help you with various challenges, from financial aid to counseling and even substance abuse. If you have a learning disability, you can even work with your college’s office of disabilities to make sure you succeed in all of your classes.

Before you head off to college, take the time to tour campus resources like the library, counseling center, and health center. That way, you’ll be able to make the most of them when you need them on campus. 

Successful In College - Campus Resources

Get Organized

Staying organized is the key to mastering all of your commitments in college – and to minimizing your stress. You thought your high school teachers got annoyed when you handed work in late? College is a whole new ballgame.

Not only will your professors not like it when you hand in assignments late, but they simply will not tolerate it. Therefore, it’s essential that you use your syllabus to plan ahead with your assignments. Schedule work now so you know what is due and when – and keep yourself organized in whatever way works best for you (whether it’s a planner, an app, your iPhone reminders, or some other tool).

After all, there’s nothing worse than walking into class five minutes late…only to realize that you forgot to do the paper that was due today. 

Successful In College - Get Organized

Put In The Time

College isn’t just about showing up to your classes and being there – although that’s something that is important, and a factor we’ll address later in this article.

It’s also about putting in the time outside of class. As a passive student, you might read your textbook, take a few notes, and hand in the assignments when they’re due. That’s good – but is it good enough?

To be a truly engaged and active student, you might review those notes, work with study groups, create practice tests, or make your own study guides. You will dedicate a certain chunk of time each week to your studies (20 hours is a good place to start) and you’ll commit yourself to studying even when there isn’t a test coming up.

It might seem daunting to spend that much time working on schoolwork, but remember, school is your job right now. Doing the best you can and mastering all of the content in your course is the best way to be successful in college – and to improve your likelihood of success after college, too. 

Successful In College - Put In Time

Choose The Right Major And Classes

This is one of the most difficult aspects for students who are headed off to college – how am I supposed to know what I want to do with the rest of my life when I’m only 17 years old? 

Truth be told, there are a lot of potential job opportunities out there, many of which you have probably yet to experience (or might not even know exist). Choosing a major can be daunting when you have no idea what kind of career might be right for you.

There are a few things you can consider as you are choosing your major. First, keep in mind that many colleges don’t require you to select a major until your second year (or sometimes later). You’ll have plenty of time to take classes and experiment to see what you might be interested in studying.

Consider your passions and take classes in subjects you love. If you love what you’re studying, you’ll be more likely to engage with your classes and enjoy your college experience.

You might also want to consider earning and hiring potential. After all, college is a major investment, and knowing that you’ll be able to pay back your costs of education is important, particularly if you are taking out loans or paying your own way. However, bear in mind that money isn’t everything –  a six-figure salary might not be worth it if you have to drag yourself to the office every day.

When it comes to choosing classes, you’ll likely be provided with a list of required courses for graduation that correspond to your chosen major, once you’ve selected one. Work closely with your academic advisor to make sure you’re taking the right list of classes each semester so that you don’t end up taking unnecessary courses or worse, have to spend more time (and consequently more money) finishing up your degree. 

Do as well as you possibly can when it comes to the grades you earn in your classes – that way, you’ll reduce the likelihood of not receiving credit for a course or not being able to get into the next set of classes because you’re missing a prerequisite. Good planning and preparation is key when it comes to graduating on time!

Successful In College - Choose The Right Major

Be There

It can be tempting to hit snooze and sleep right through that 8 am class – particularly if you were up half the night studying. But don’t do it – if you don’t show up to class and participate, you are not going to be as successful. Sure, most of the resources might be posted online on the instructor’s webpage. However, in many cases, your teachers will provide valuable information that will be on a final exam in class sessions only.

Skip a class, and you’ll not only miss important notes, but also opportunities to earn extra credit. Plus, although not all professors take attendance, some do – and that can harm your overall GPA. 

Find Activities You Enjoy

When you head off to college, it might be hard for you to resist the pull of the party crowd. You’re going to encounter many people who just want someone to drink with them, and while that’s a personal choice that only you can make, it’s important that you find time for healthy activities that you enjoy doing. 

Prioritize activities that will not only help you relax at the end of a long week but will also allow you to make valuable connections. There are all kinds of sober activities you can try, clubs you can join, and events you can attend on campus – make the most of what is offered to you so that you can be successful in college. 

Successful In College - Activities

Seek Help…Within Reason

If you are struggling in a class, don’t be afraid to reach out to your professor with questions. After all, that’s what they are there for. However, do keep in mind that your instructors are people with lives outside of the university. You need to know your boundaries.

Familiarize yourself with your instructors’ office hours and do your best to stick to them. If you must email a question, do so professionally – and give them plenty of time to respond. Use only the contact information that is provided to you by the professor and work hard to form good conditions with all of your teachers. 

The Most Important Tip For How To Be Successful In College

And the single most important tip when it comes to learning how to be successful in college? Have fun! That doesn’t mean you have to go out and get drunk every night or that you need to dedicate your entire schedule to your social calendar.

However, while it’s important that you dedicate time to studying and doing well in your classes, you also need to set aside time to have some fun. After all, you’re paying a lot of money to be here – and you should leave with more than just a piece of paper saying you graduated. 

The experiences you have in college, and the memories that you make here, will be ones that last you a lifetime – so be sure to relax and enjoy the ride!

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