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How to Be Successful in College: 10 Helpful Tips

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

You did it! High school is a thing of the past and you’re ready to start the next chapter of your life—college! After you finish patting yourself on the back, take a few minutes to read these tips on being successful in college. According to US News, as many as one in three first-year college students don’t make it back for their sophomore year

1. Go to class.

Even if the professor says attendance is optional, go to class. You never know what critical information you will miss if you decide to skip a lecture because you were tired. Oh, and be on time. Sneaking into class late is a distraction for everyone.

2. Read directions.

If someone bothered to create a handout or send an email, chances are it’s important. Skimming through your class syllabus or stuffing mail in your backpack to look at later only to forget about it can make you miss something critical, like a cancelled class or rescheduled due date.

3. Interact with people.

Introduce yourself to your professors. If your final grade is on the fence, he or she will probably be more likely to bump it up than down if you are a friendly person who speaks up in class and interacts with others. Friends are important too. Spending Friday nights by youreslf in front of the TV can be very lonely. Talk to the other students!

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If something isn’t clear, ask—even if you feel funny doing so. Most likely you aren’t the only one who is confused.

5. Get help when you need it.

When a topic is confusing, get help. Join a study group, go to the tutoring center, or visit your professor during office hours. Don’t be intimidated or embarrassed—you’re paying to learn, so make sure you do!

6. Keep an open mind.

Even if you live at home and commute, college will force you out of your comfort zone. You will meet new people and try new things. When opportunities arise, resist the urge to automatically say no just because you feel slightly uncomfortable. Enrolling in a tough class or taking an internship you aren’t too sure about might become one of your best college experiences!

7. Realize you’re not alone.

You might not think so now, but things will change a lot between your late teens and early twenties. At times you will feel lonely or homesick, stressed out, tired, even afraid. Before you jump ship and decide to quit everything, realize you’re not alone—other students are feeling the same things you are. Talking with someone who is going through similar experiences can be therapeutic and comforting.

8. Develop time management skills.

High school teachers are good at reminding their students about due dates and test dates. College professors will mention things too, but not on a daily basis. It’s up to you to pay attention and figure out what needs to be done. If your class syllabus states that a ten-page research paper is due the last week before final exams, it can be really tempting to procrastinate. Don’t. Learn how to pace yourself rather than wait until the last minute.

9. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

Last-minute research papers aren’t the only way to overwhelm yourself. Taking too many classes at once or joining too many clubs can put you over the edge, especially if you have a job on top of everything else. It might sound funny, but take care of yourself and make sure you have time to eat, sleep and shower. It’s easy to get sick when you’re always on the run with little sleep.

10. Pay attention to your finances.

Student loans are constantly in the news. Students are borrowing more than ever before, and struggling to make loan payments once they’re out of school. If you are using financial aid to pay for college, learn what is going on. Keep track of how much money you have borrowed. It’s all too easy to accumulate an immense amount of debt.

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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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