College Success Tips
- The cardinal rule of college success is, without a doubt: GO TO CLASS! This means that you go to class when it is raining, when you got in late the night before, when the material being taught is boring or already familiar to you, or when you feel just a little “under the weather.” You need to hear what is being said in class and you need the professor to see you attending and participating actively in the course.
- Talk to the professor about the difficulty you are having.
There are many good reasons why a student who is struggling in a class should talk to the instructor. These include obtaining some supplementary instruction, some pointers about how best to study, some feedback about where you seem to be going wrong on tests and papers, and some perspective on why students typically struggle in the class and what is helpful to turn the situation around. Further, it gives you an opportunity to impress on the professor how much effort you are expending and how much you want to improve.
- Seek help – from a tutor in the learning center, a study group, a friend who did well in the course last year
Everyone needs help at some point. Even the best students may need help. The resources are there, so use them! Perhaps take the course with a friend who is very strong in the field.
More College Success Tips
- Be a robo-notetaker. In many intro courses, the professor’s lectures form the major part of the material tested on the midterm and final. So you should be writing down everything the professor says in the lecture. Don’t worry too much about the structure, and forget about special “note-taking systems” (Cornell Note-Taking System, Mind Mapping, or the “five R’s of good note taking”). Just get it all down—you can always fix it up later.
- Double up on tests. Before each test, take a practice test you make up, with questions similar to the ones you expect on the real test. Write it out under test conditions (no notes, limited time). Use handouts, study guides, homework and labs, old exams, and hints from the prof or TA to construct the test. If you get to a test and the questions look surprising to you, you haven’t really prepared properly.
- Join a community. Many students, especially in the sciences, improve their grades with “study buddies” or study groups—especially when their cohorts are smarter than they. Try to meet at least once a week—especially in courses in which there are weekly problem sets or quizzes. Students can improve their grades one level (or more) when they commit to working in an organized way with other students.
- Make sure you get at least one A each semester. Getting even a single A will change how you think about yourself—and your prospects for future semesters. If you’re at all close, in even one course, work really hard to do it. It’ll change things forever.
For more tips like these, see the USA Today article, 15 Secrets of Getting Good Grades in College.
Need help with classwork?
TRIO is a Federal program to help low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities in college! TRIO on-campus services include, but aren’t limited to: one-on-one academic, financial aid, career, and personal advising; peer coaching. leadership and professional development opportunities, and opportunities to engage in research and develop academic networks.For more information on TRIO visit here. In CT, there are 16 on-campus TRIO programs including:
CONNTAC, INC (at 10 Connecticut Community Colleges)