Valuable Academic Tips for College

Preparation, managing,  participating, and knowing when to seek help are a few of the key ways to successfully manage your academics at college. Check out these tips:

Preparation and Notes

  • Take notes (especially if the professor writes something on the board)!
  • Review your notes as soon as you can after your class. This has been found to be the best way to retain the information taught in class. If anything is unclear, email or talk to your professor about it.
  • Do assigned reading BEFORE class. This will help you to see the big picture as it emerges.
  • Read supplemental material and read it closely.
  • Ask questions about assignments.
  • Stay organized—keep handouts, assignments, papers, etc. organized in a folder or binder. Also, try concept maps, outlines, other visual strategies for organizing material.
  • Study a little every day; don't pull an all nighter before exam. This creates unhealthy habits and anxiety.
  • Don't confuse superficial learning with deep learning. Be able to assess, apply, compare, explain, etc.
  • Use the Quizlet app to prepare flash cards for reviewing material.

Class Participation

  • Go to every class! Never underestimate the power of you being in class.
  • Come to class prepared and ready to engage. Use non-verbal clues to let the professor know you’re paying attention—make eye contact, sit up straight, be ready to take notes, have your books out, etc.
  • Take notes in class discussions and lectures. You’ll be sorry at exam time if you don't.
  • Use an app like AudioNote which can record lectures, if you think you’re missing things.
  • Participate in discussion—learning how to talk about texts and issues in class is one of the most important things you can practice and improve. And you just might get some sweet participant points from it!
  • Try to understand how the examples or case studies from class and assigned reading illustrate the concepts covered.

Getting Help from Others

  • Use your academic support center, get a peer tutor, see an academic specialist if you are having challenges with time management, organization, and/or study skills.
  • Do you have a documented disability which you made need academic accommodations for? Get to the Disability Services office.
  • Failure to communicate with faculty can be a problem. If you find you’re getting behind, you’re much better off talking to a professor rather than hoping the problem will go away. Too scary to see a professor in person? Email them. Go see professors during their office hours. That’s what office hours are for. Professors want to see you.
  • Get help when you need it from other students, your professors, reference librarians, the academic center, student tutors, writing center, speech and debate center.
  • Understand concepts covered in class; meet with others to practice using terms.
  • Form a study group of 3 (but no more than 3) students.
  • Focus when you study—don't multi-task, listen to music, text your friends, etc. you will study more efficiently (less study time) and effectively (you'll absorb more). Turn off cell phone and social media.
  • Use your departmental tutors and/or get a tutor through the academic support center. Use a tutor to explain or clarify the more difficult things.

Test Prep

  • The professor is not out to trick you—if something was worth mentioning or discussing in class, it's probably important enough to include in a test.
  • Use visual aids, mnemonic devices, flash cards, etc. It will be more helpful than just re-reading your notes or texts.
  • Ask the teacher directly what to expect on the test. It’s a fair question.

Other Tips

  • Cramming is never a good idea since it doesn’t help you absorb the material. Squeezing in study time means that you’ll probably do poorly on the test, and you also won’t learn the material.
  • Test what you’ve learned by trying to teach it to someone else. This can be done in class or a study group discussion. Always participate!
  • Study individually for 30 minutes after each lecture (that same day) to make sure you see how the pieces fit together. DON'T wait until the week or the day before the test.

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