How to Be a Successful College Student

Last updated on November 27, 2017

Coming from high school, where education standards are often lowered to ensure more students graduate, a college freshman may have quite a shock when they get their grades in the first round of tests. This is, of course, that they are not prepared for studies at the university level.

Thankfully, there are a few things that new students can learn from people who have been in their situation like me who learned how to be effective students.

Attending Class

The most critical thing that will make you success as a college student is to show up to class.

You are not going to learn the material if you never show up to hear the professor tell you things. Show up to class and listen when the professor lectures. This will help you learn the material, meet people that you can form study groups with, and allow you a chance to get clarification on difficult subjects.

Showing up to class will also help you remember when certain deadlines are, as it will be a main topic of conversation among your fellow students before class and most professors will remind students about tests and essays.

Many professors will give pop quizzes as well, meaning it is in your grade’s best interest that you show up to class. Sometimes these are for extra credit, which can push your grade over the edge if you are close to getting a higher letter grade.

Get Familiar with Planner

Using a planner is a great idea. Many schools will give them away, so check around campus.

Use your planner to write down everything that you need to do other than going to class, eating at the campus dining facilities, and sleeping. Write down when your tests are, when your papers are due, everything. If you are having coffee with your friend, then write that down too.

This will let you know how much of your time is already taken up so you can make sure to plan for plenty of study time.

Creating Your Study System

Developing a system for studying is critical for becoming a good student.

  • Many students may find success with simply reading their book and reviewing their class notes, although this will not work for others.
  • Many students find it necessary to use note cards and write a keyword on one side and a definition or key facts to remember about it on the other.
  • Rewriting notes help other students.
  • Studying with a partner and teaching the material to one another can be very helpful for some people.

Discipline Yourself

Once you find a study style that works for you, it is important to stick with it.

Studying is not something that can be done for thirty minutes until you get bored and decide to play HALO. Studying for at least two hours a day is a good goal to work toward.

This obviously does not mean that you have to include Friday and Saturday nights as well, as you will likely want to take the weekends for yourself unless you have a big test. However you will be presented with a plethora of information and you will need to study it until you could lecture a class on it yourself. Then study it a little more.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

Sometimes you may not fully comprehend all of the information presented in class. This does not mean that you are stupid. It means that you are in a difficult class.

Ask the professor for help. That is what they are there for. You are paying the university a great deal of money for them to teach you things, so take advantage of it. Go to their office hours. Ask them questions during lecture if you do not understand something. If you do not do this then you are not fully taking advantage of your opportunity to learn and putting yourself at a disadvantage.

There is also nothing wrong with asking your classmates about basic concepts that you do not understand. Some of them may excel in that course, so you may be able to learn from them as well.

Taking Care of Yourself

Getting the proper amount of rest and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also important.

While you may need to occasionally stay up until late in the evening to finish a project, you should try to get seven to eight hours of sleep a day. If this means taking a nap during breaks in your classes, this is fine. Just make sure you get your sleep.

Coffee and energy drinks will only help so much when you are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can cause you to fall asleep during class, not be able to study effectively, and become sick more easily as your immune system will not perform at 100% without rest.

Proper nutrition is also important. Yes, pizza and tacos will fill you up, but they will never give you the vitamins that your body needs to run smoothly. Eating fruit with your meals will be very helpful in making sure that you get plenty of the nutrients that you need. Orange juice will make sure you never have a deficiency in Vitamin C, keeping your immune system functioning properly.

You may ask why your immune system is so important, and that is simple. You are going to be surrounded by thousands of students and will often be in close quarters. Many of these people might not wash their hands, or maybe they do not cover their mouths when they sneeze. A case of flu or cold can immobilize an entire dorm.

Getting sick may mean missing class or trying to study while running a fever. You do not want these things, so take care of your body.

Final Word

You will be setting yourself up for academic success if you follow these guidelines. Remember to have a little fun while you are here, though. You only get to do it once and then you need to get a big kid job.


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