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10 Secrets of Successful Students

College and University Blog - Resources, help, and insight for your college experience

Successful students aren’t necessarily geniuses. They’re intelligent, that’s a given, but there’s much more to earning all those A’s. Read on to discover 10 things that great students already know.

1. Go to class.

Most college students love the fact that attendance isn’t mandatory like it was back in high school. Tired from going out last night and don’t feel like waking up on time for that 8 AM lecture? “That’s okay, I can just get the notes from a friend,” is a common excuse. Successful students only skip class for legitimate reasons. You never know what you might miss. As the saying goes, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

2. Choose your professors wisely.

Even at small schools, students generally have choices when it comes to making class schedules and selecting which professors to study with. Ask around; find out about teaching styles from friends or roommates who have taken classes with particular instructors in the past. Don’t have friends who can make references? Sit in on a current class or two before registration to get an idea of how that person runs his or her classes. Most teachers will be thrilled you asked to do so!

3. Study in your free time.

A general rule of thumb is to spend two to three hours of study time per hour of class time. Studies have found that most collegians don’t even come close to studying this much, but reading and working on practice tests outside of class is crucial for good grades. Make it a point to prepare for class.

4. Be organized.

Students can be incredibly busy. It’s easy to forget important things, so keep track of lectures and labs, due dates, exam dates, study sessions, extracurricular activities, work, and social activities in your calendar. Keep tabs on your textbooks, study guides, notes, and all things class-related. Keep your room or apartment as neat as you can—you’ll be less likely to lose things!

5. Prioritize.

Keeping track of your activities and assignments in a calendar is important, but so is learning how to prioritize. Jobs are a big deal – and a necessity for many students – but ask yourself if pulling a double shift the night before an exam is worth it. Friends are important, too, but is it a good idea to go out when you have a term paper due in two days?

6. Stay healthy.

The dreaded freshman fifteen usually happens because students begin eating whatever they want, whenever they want. Grabbing lattes and donuts on the run, munching on pizza and fries after midnight, and skipping the gym all take their toll. Make an effort to watch what you eat and add exercise to your routine. You’ll look better and you’ll feel better, both physically and mentally.

7. Take advantage of office hours.

Professors are required to offer a certain number of office hours per week. Some students couldn’t even tell you where their professors’ offices are located. Successful students aren’t afraid to see their instructors outside of the classroom. If his or her office hours don’t mesh with your schedule, ask to set up an appointment that works for you. In most cases, your teacher will be happy you asked for assistance and willing to accommodate.

8. Ask!

If something isn’t clear, successful students aren’t ashamed to ask questions. They know that chances are, other students have the same questions.

9. Follow instructions to a T.

Before you start your assignments or while you’re taking a test, read everything. Pay attention to the instructions, because your grade may suffer if you give things your own twist. Make sure you answer essay questions correctly – intentionally or unintentionally changing the subject can also help you earn a lower grade.

10. Don’t forget to have fun!

It takes more than good grades to be a well-rounded, successful person. Have fun, too! Spend time with friends and family, enjoy your hobbies, and remember that one day you’ll look back on your college experience as one of the best of your life.

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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