There is nothing like learning from those who have gone before you, so I’ve been asking college students their best advice to pass on. Here are the success tips that I’ve collected from college students who have walked in your shoes and have been successful:
Overall tips for being successful in college, whether it is your first year or not:
- Time management is key! In college there seems to be so much to do but not enough hours to do it. It may seem like you will have so much more time because you have fewer hours in the classroom, but that is simply not true. Treat school like an 8 to 6 job, but if you still have to work to do after dinner, just go to the library and get it done. Plan out your week in advance in terms of Academic time, Involvement time, and Take-Care-of-You time, and then social time can fill in the gaps.
- Making a Weekly Master Schedule will avoid lots of stress from procrastination or in-the-moment FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) decisions, and will give you more control and ease. Take advantage of those awkward 30-minute breaks – while you are walking listen to a lecture you’ve recorded, go to the library – make the most of little chunks of time. Be smart about how you use all of your time, and it will make all the difference! Download this copy of a Weekly Master Schedule and use it to plan out your weeks. Here is an Example Weekly Schedule that is already filled in, so you can visualize what it will look like.
- Remember that everyone is in the same boat as you. It is very easy to look around and think everyone has good friends or knows what they’re doing. The reality is everyone is insecure and probably just as lonely as you might feel at the beginning. Don’t let comparison bring your spirits down. Be proactive and initiate with people you want to be friends with, people that you think could make you better. Also, no one really knows what they are doing, so don’t be afraid to show that you don’t either. That will only make others more comfortable. But also be proactive with this by just asking for help from older students, faculty, and even other freshmen. Use your resources!!! There are so many on every campus – math labs, free tutoring, writing labs, etc.
- As soon as you can, ideally the first Sunday you are at college, start visiting churches. Even before you arrive on campus, use the internet and friends to identify a few churches that you want to visit. The sooner you get into the habit of blocking that time out on Sunday, the easier it will be to get up and go throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to visit around for a couple of weeks, but it will make you feel more at home if you decide on a church and regularly go to it and have that community. Finding a friend that wants the same type of church and going together also helps initially too.
- Class Time: Go to Class! and be intentional with your time there making the most of it – sometimes it’s hard to stay focused, but pay attention to what the teacher says and write everything down – you remember 40% more if you take notes in cursive rather than taking notes on your computer. It will save you a lot of time in the long run if you pay attention and not just be there physically in person. So be intentional in class.
- Tape your lectures using the Drop Vox app – it is a free app that you can link to a Dropbox account, so you won’t take up storage on your phone. You can then re-listen to the lecture and take good notes (in cursive!) and re-listen to the lecture as you work out or walk across campus.
- Visit your professors’ office hours at the beginning of every semester just to introduce yourself and make yourself known as someone who cares about the class. Visiting with your professors (aka making friends with your professors) is vital and will be a huge help throughout the semester and if you get to the end of the semester and could benefit from an extra point to round up to the next letter grade.
- Find out before the first test what the format of the test will be (multiple choice, short answer, etc.). There are so few tests in college that knowing the format of the test can really make a difference in whether the first test goes well, or starts you out in a hole.
- Study Time: If you are a freshman, realize college is much harder than high school. Since there are only around 3 tests for the semester, depending on the class, you’ll be tempted to not study until the week or days before your test. This will just set you up for failure, and make it very stressful for you. Spread out your studying over the weeks leading up to a test; don’t cram. Professors expect students to spend at least 2-3 hours studying and preparing for every hour in class to earn an A. They will assign the workload accordingly, so be prepared!
- Take advantage of all the resources your college offers – free tutoring, math labs, etc. Don’t wait to the last minute to take advantage of them and don’t get discouraged and think you can’t do it. Visualize yourself achieving academic excellence and remind yourself why you are studying hard- to get an education and have a successful life. Tutoring is key in one class or another for almost every student.
- Determine what you need to get done each day and week and stick to it. This way, when it comes down to a couple days before your test, you will not be stressed out, and you will just need to review all the information that you’ve been studying for the last weeks. Make sure to do actual study away from fun things, so out of dorm and in a library – the quiet library, not the social library.
- Realize there is a difference between the quantity amount of studying and the quality amount of studying. A person can get in 1 hour worth of studying done in one hour if they stay focused, and not get distracted by friends, social media, etc. However, a person can get that same 1 hour worth of studying done, but take 3 hours because they are constantly taking study breaks, talking to friends, being on social media, and just not forcing themselves to intentionally study. Basically, if you are efficient with your studying time, you will free up more time to do whatever you want and still be successful in your classes. So, when studying, you need to find a place in the library or wherever you will not get distracted, turn off your phone, and buckle down.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Hours studying are dependent on your skills – everyone comes into college with a different skill level for studying. Not everyone learns the same way. Don’t let feelings direct your studying – stick with your plan.
- The big thing is to be dedicated in finding a group of people to be a part of, typically organizations, fraternities/sororities, churches.
- Don’t overload yourself with a bunch of campus activities – choose maybe one or two in addition to the big group you’ve chosen to be part of and your church community, and get involved in those.
- Determine to make an impact and invest in relationships. Use the concept of overlap to develop your friendships, but still be able to get everything done that you need to do to be successful. For example, make plans to pomp with friends or exercise with a friend or two. Always eat your meals with someone. Be intentional to initiate time with people you want to get to know better.
- Eat well, sleep well, exercise, attend church. So many food choices and no one to say “no” – eat your veggies! 🙂
- Get enough sleep and be sure to “sharpen the saw” with quiet times, intramurals, fun chill time with friends, etc. Just be balanced with it all.
- Think about how you recharge. If you recharge by being around people, then make sure that you are choosing to exercise with friends, for example. If you need alone time to feel refreshed, then find a quiet spot on campus where you can go to relax.
- Find one friend and agree to hold each other accountable towards the goals you have set for yourselves academically, spiritually, physically, etc. Motivation plays a big part in one’s success, and having that accountability can help.
Hope this helps! Have a wonderful semester!
To your success-