It’s true that college life can be an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful for those who aren’t organized and prepared to keep up with heavy reading loads, group projects and a multitude of term papers. Here are eight tips to help you stay on top and be a successful college student.
Do your own work. Copying or otherwise cheating only cheats you out of the opportunity to learn what you need to know. Plagiarism can be addicting so don’t do it even once; if you’re caught, you could potentially throw away your entire education and lose out on choice career opportunities.
Use a Planner
The life of a college student can quickly become a jumbled mess when trying to remember due dates, assignments, locations and other activities. Use a planner on paper or electronic device and keep it handy to jot things down so you are always prepared and in the right place at the right time.
Post Your Schedule
Many students find it challenging to remember which classes are held on which days of the week, especially after pulling several all-nighters in a row. Post your class schedule somewhere where you can easily see it to make sure you never miss a class. Set the calendar on your smartphone to remind you in advance of each of your classes.
Your college career will be filled with a variety of projects. Keeping a to-do list handy will help you prioritize your time and make sure you stay on top of your workload.
Many professors won’t allow extra time for submitting projects and papers regardless of what health, personal or technological issues you run into. Relieve yourself of unnecessary stress by finishing projects before they are due.
Buy Books Early
The early bird gets the worm and the best deal on books. Usually, if you get to the book store early, you can take advantage of used books sold at a discounted price. Alternatively, you can purchase used books online such as amazon or ebay at a discount. Some students will find out which books they’ll need well in advance and read them before the first day of school. By reading them ahead of time, you’ll be able to follow along with lectures with ease and learn more efficiently, make informed comments (and be the teacher’s pet) and increase your GPA.
Keep up on Technology
A major portion of your success as a college student in today’s world has to do with your ability to use current technologies. Most colleges have computers and printers for student use in various computer labs around campus or the school library. However, if it fits your budget, your own personal computer or laptop will be very beneficial, as school computers are usually not available 24 hours a day. You may also find all computers to be full leaving you in a jam if you have a paper due.
For many college students, a jump-drive is a necessity for storing documents. A jump-drive is similar to an external hard drive, as you can save and delete a variety of documents or presentations to it. They come in a variety of storage sizes, and prices can range from $15 to $100 or more. Many students keep them on a key chain or lanyard. When turning reports in via email, use a Word to PDF converter to ensure your paper is viewed by your professor the same way you created it. There are also lots of options for academic software and student discounts if you do some research or ask at the student bookstore.
Take time to attend lecture halls. Also, get to know your professors and their TA’s. They usually appreciate it when students show an interest in their studies, and it’s nice to have them on your side if you ever need an extension. Additionally, studies have shown that students who sit in the front of the classroom are more likely to participate in discussions with their teachers and peers, leading to better understanding of the material and better grades. In college, it isn’t enough to just “show up” to class. You must be present and show your teachers and professors you actually care about what you are learning, even if you don’t care. However, speaking out just for the sake of talking will not come across favorably in any discussion. Remember these tips and you will be well on your way to enjoying a successful college career.
Brent Hershey is a retired college professor. He spends his days reading and writing, and enjoys fishing and training showdogs. He lives with his wife in Vermont.