Tuesday, August 20, 2013


how to succeed in college

All of my children have taken dual credit classes at the local community college by the time they are juniors in high school. This is a change from homeschooling and I suppose it does give them a taste of the ‘real world'. The differences became very obvious to my second child not long after she started taking Algebra at the community college. All of my children are 'smarter than the average bear', but when you live in the shadow of the National Merit Finalist sister, it is sometimes hard to believe that about yourself. Plus, this was the daughter who declared early on “I'm not going to do school” and “math is evil”.

So, after a semester of College Algebra, when she found herself making an 'A' after struggling with high school Algebra 1, she announced her very astute observations on how to do well in college.
She came face to face with the 'real world' and discovered that a large percentage of students don't even do the minimum and then wonder why they can't pass the class. In college, as with many things in life, showing up and applying yourself is more than half the battle.

Follow these tips and see if you don't succeed in college.

1. Go to Class: yes, this seems obvious, but so many students don't do it, for a variety of reasons. Maybe it is an early class and it is easier to sleep in. Maybe the class is 'boring' or 'difficult'. Or maybe it is a huge class and “nobody will notice if I am there or not”. It doesn't matter what the reason might be, just Go To Class, be in the minority.You paid for the class, why wouldn't you attend?

2.  Sit Near the Front of the Class: this shows the professor that you are interested, and might help you stay awake. This is especially important in a large class. Sit in the same spot every day. The prof will get used to seeing you there; you will be a familiar face. When/if you visit the prof for help, you will not be a stranger.

3.  Engage in the Class: participate in class discussion and/or ask questions. Once again, this shows you are interested and paying attention. When it comes time to give grades, if your grade is borderline, there is a chance your participation will help push your grade up. In a large lecture class where there is not discussion, make eye contact with the professor to show you are paying attention and engaged.

4.  Do Your Homework: homework in college is for your benefit, not the professor’s. Many times you do not have to turn it in and the professor doesn't check it. Students become lazy in this scenario; don't be lazy. Doing your homework will help you understand the material, will help you ask questions in class, and will help you on the test.

5.  Check the Syllabus and Be Aware of Due Dates/Test Dates: remember, this is not high school. In college, the professor gives you the syllabus and you are responsible for deadlines. Rarely will you be reminded about due dates. Put all your due dates/test dates on your calendar. Start on projects and papers in plenty of time to do quality work (not the night before!).    

Bonus Tip (from me, the mom)
6. Put Away Your Cell Phone: don't think the professor doesn't know you are texting under the table. Turn off your phone and leave it in your backpack. This helps you with step number 3 and the professor will appreciate it. Nothing is so important that it can't wait until after class.

Note from Hannah, my editor: “I had a professor at Texas A & M who would answer your cell phone if it rang during class.  Once he did this and it was the student’s mother.  Another reason to turn it off :)

The advice from this university professor is worth reading as part of your success strategy, too.

For the record, my daughter took her own advice. She plugged along through those hard university classes and is now in graduate school studying to be a Physicians Assistant and doing very well. All this from the child who wasn't interested in school.

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