Most high school seniors are approaching the summer thinking, “this is my final summer break before college, and I better make the most of it!” A EuroTrip definitely sounds like a dream but irrespective of where your summer might take you, preparing for your life as a college student can help you immensely.
A majority of you already know how to handle the rigors of student life—you were at the top of your class during high school, an honors student with a bunch of extracurricular activities and a part-time barista job at Starbucks. But it is important to remember that college is a whole different beast and getting advice on how to be successful in college before you start can help you face any obstacles that come your way.
Ensuring you do well in college is imperative to building your future. Graduating is one thing but a degree doesn’t guarantee automatic success. For those of you still trying to figure out how to do well in college, we have devised a handy checklist of “MUST-Dos.” Regardless of where you lie in this rat race to success, know that success doesn’t come easy. A hardworking, likeable student has certain key traits that not everyone may be naturally gifted with. But don’t blame genetics so fast—there are ways to come out victorious; you just got be ready for it! Check out our advice on success in college below.
1. Identifying Your Inner-Learner
Ken Bain, a historian and educator identifies three types of learners: surface, the student who does as little as possible to get by; strategic, who are laser focused on getting the top grades and care very little for actual substantive learning, and deep learners, who leave college having a rich education thanks to their intellectual journey. The deep learner will probably get the most out of his ‘graduation’ buck. This is because the deep thinker has the intellectual curiosity to take her to the finish line, hurdle-free.
2. Wear Your Passion on your Sleeve
Good grades do matter for a successful future but knowledge is more important. By this, we mean that the primary motivation of a successful student is her interest in the subject and her ambition.
It might be tempting to take an easy class that is known to give out higher grades or will help satisfy credit requirements but if you learnt absolutely nothing related to your area of interest, that class doesn’t seem so attractive anymore. Still, it’s important to diversify and expose oneself to different fields. For example, an economist should take classes that discuss social problems instead of packing her curriculum with math and other related subjects. Diversification helps you think differently and expand your horizon.
3. Accept Failure
No one sets himself or herself up for failure but sometimes failure is inevitable. But it’s important to remember that some of the greatest successes came out of failure. Take Lady Gaga for example, singer extraordinaire, and Grammy award winning singer. Her first label dropped her within three months of signing her. She has moved on to become one of the highest paid singers today. Remember that half the battle is trying – a few failures can be easily turned around. Taking something valuable away from these failures is the true test.
4. Read and Think Actively
A key element in learning how to be a successful college student is active reading. For example, when you start a new chapter, you are tempted to skip over the learning goals listed at the start of a chapter. Instead of simply turning the page, a successful student should use these goals to read the rest of the chapter. Often, too many students aimlessly read with the hope that the material somehow magically sinks in. By using these goals, you have a set purpose that can guide your reading to something meaningful. Active reading and thinking also means relating what you have read to other lectures, ideas, themes, and real world situations.
5. Personalize it
One way of making college truly memorable is by personalizing your classroom experiences. Creating personal connections with a dry subject can make it instantly entertaining. More importantly, you will hold on to important concepts and ideologies that you can apply to your professional life. For example, a political science major who is studying world politics can relate his recent participation at a model UN to understanding how countries form alliances and negotiate at the world stage. As to the old adage goes, “things are not always what they seem” so making those connections in the classroom are vital.
6. Ask Big Questions
Successful students organize their studies around questions they want to explore. For example, a student with a law and justice major sought to determine how the current justice systems inefficiencies could be rectified. Every time a new topic was discussed, this student would relate the topic to his overarching question of system defects and try to find answers within the current curriculum. He created a list of pros and cons and always followed up his findings by researching the topic in more detail. His focused approach helped him to become a successful student and truly appreciate his college experience.
7. Form Connections
That story about a young Harvard graduate creating that billion-dollar social network company (read: Facebook) with some of his friends not only makes a good movie but also teaches us an important lesson. You never know where you will find a billion dollar connection so bonding with your peers during class, at a networking event, or even in a social setting is necessary. Moreover, you have the opportunity to learn from everyone around you. Invest in connections now…..because the guy sitting next to you could be your future employer or business partner.
Finally, get comfortable with uncertainty. A successful student knows how to live an organized lifestyle but can easily roll with the punches. Life is all about the uncertainties. Be ready for change – as you begin your journey from high school to college to employment, one thing remains consistent – the future lies in your hands!