Headed off to school for the first time this fall? If you’re wondering how to succeed in college, you’ve come to the right place.
Like most students, you probably have no idea what it takes to succeed 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?
Attending 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 have college success.
How to Be Successful in College
Below, we discuss how college students can achieve beyond academic success and have overall success during their college days.
Don’t Be a Wallflower
This first tip may sound a bit abrasive, but it’s essential regardless of the setting, so we’ve chosen to include it first. You must 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 need to step slightly outside your comfort zone to appreciate all the best college life offers. By making your presence known and getting to know the right people on campus (particularly your professors, various staff members, and your classmates), you’ll be able to participate in college life fully.
After all, when it comes to entering the job market after college, many graduates report that it wasn’t necessarily their excellent grades or exceptional resume that got them noticed – it was who they knew.
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 or school counselor to ensure you succeed in all of your classes.
Before heading 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.
Staying organized is the key to mastering all of your college commitments and 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 will not tolerate it. Therefore, you must use your syllabus to plan your assignments. Create effective time management plans to conduct your school work before it is due – and keep yourself organized in whatever 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 due today. Ensure you meet the required class attendance and develop a learning style that works for you. Being organized will not only help you stay focused and become a successful student, but it will also help you achieve career success too.
Put in the Time
College isn’t just about attending class and being there – although that’s 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 a study group, create practice tests with other students, or make study guides based on your course requirements. You will dedicate a particular chunk of time each week to your studies (20 hours is an excellent place to start), and you’ll commit yourself to a study time even when a test isn’t 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 the content in your course is the best way to succeed in college – and to improve your likelihood of success after college, too.
Choose the Right Major and Classes
This is one of the most challenging aspects for students 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? Figuring this out ensures you go in the wrong direction, making self-awareness essential to achieving your college goals.
There are a lot of potential job opportunities out there, many of which you have probably yet to experience (or might not even know to exist). Choosing a major can be daunting when you have no idea what kind of career might be right for you.
You can consider a few things as you choose your major. First, remember that as a full-time student at the degree level, most schools 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 in your freshman year. 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 significant investment, and knowing that you’ll be able to pay back your education costs is essential, particularly if you are taking out loans or paying your way. However, remember that money isn’t everything – a six-figure salary might not be worth it if you drag yourself to the office every day.
When 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 ensure you’re taking the suitable classes each semester so that you don’t take 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, preparation, and focus are essential to graduating on time!
It can be tempting to hit snooze and sleep right through that 8 am class – mainly if you were up for eight hours studying without getting enough sleep. But don’t do it – if you don’t show up to class with your mind sharp and participate, you will not be as achieve success as a student.
Most of the resources might be posted online on the instructor’s webpage. However, in many cases, your teachers will provide valuable information on a final exam and important deadlines in class only.
Skip a class, miss assignment due dates, and you’ll miss essential opportunities to earn extra credit. Plus, although not all professors take attendance, some do – and that can harm your overall GPA and success in college.
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 want someone to drink and take recreational drugs with them, and while that’s a personal choice that only you can make, you must find time for healthy activities you enjoy.
Prioritize activities that will help you relax at the end of a long week and 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 succeed in college. Avoid bad habits that could affect your mental health, create your personal space, and set smart goals.
Seek Help…Within Reason
If you struggle in a class, don’t hesitate 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.
Make new friends within your department. These are people you can ask for help and form study groups with, but you can also reach out to ther students even if they are not your friends.
Take Care of Your Health
Whether it is your mental or physical health, you have to take care of it. It is critical to achieving your school and professional goals. Find a balance between your school work and other activities. Don’t always keep your body moving; take one hour in a quiet place to relax.
Dorm rooms may not be ideal as they are filled with other students and can be noisy. So plan ahead and find a place you can always go to relax.
Get Valuable Experience
College is the time to get valuable experience that will come in handy when you start looking for work. This could be from your part-time jobs and club participation. Also, get an internship; many employers take in college interns during long school breaks, which will look good on your CV. It is best to start early when applying for an internship to increase your chances of getting accepted.
The Most Important Tip for How to Be Successful in College
And the most critical tip for 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 you must dedicate time to studying and doing well in your classes, you must also set aside time to have 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 you make here, will last you a lifetime – so be sure to relax and enjoy the ride!
- How to Be Successful in College
- The Most Important Tip for How to Be Successful in College