Tips for a Good Start in College

College is very different from high school. Students need to take control of their own education, managing their own time, staying on track without outside reminders, and mastering course content independently. Here are a few hints to help you get on the road to success and stay there.

  • Decide now to make school your number one priority.
    Go to all of your classes. Stay focused, ask questions, participate in discussions, take notes.
  • Work with lecture information routinely.
    Reorganize your notes, look for the connections, add in visual elements like color ink or highlighting. Find ways to quiz yourself on the lecture information, study with a classmate.
  • Read your textbook and stay on schedule with the readings.
    In high school the text material is usually covered in class. In college it may not be. The textbook provides valuable context for the lecture. Use it to add to your notes - focus on new examples, extra explanations, and visuals. Dig in to the text to get beyond surface learning.
  • Develop a system for managing your own time.
    A large calendar or planner can help. Major exams, papers and other significant deadlines are often provided to students at the start of the semester. Get them on your calendar right away and plan ahead. Be sure to set aside time to study every week. College courses can require 2 or 3 hours of outside work for every hour you are in class.
  • Study actively by generating your own materials
    Add information to diagrams, create note cards, work up study sheets on key concepts. Rewriting, or reorganizing, or talking through information are all good ways to learn. Better yet, find a study partner.
  • Take exams and papers seriously.
    In college you may have only three or four grades in a course. Work hard to do your best. Last minute cramming is a big stressor that often yields unpredictable results. It's not easy to get back on track if you get off to a bad start.
  • Remember that if you are really struggling help is available.
    It doesn't come looking for you. You have to take the initiative. Talk to your professor. Ask about study groups and tutoring services.