How to Succeed in School

Editor’s Note:  From time to time throughout the semester, we’ll find and share tips on how to have a successful academic semester.  We can all do some easy things that help, like staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and eating right.  But excellent learners also use specific skills to help them learn.  So to help you get as much out of the learning experience as you can (and make finals week less stressful, hopefully, when it arrives) here’s the first set of tips.  We curated this content and summarized it.  But for more detail and information, be sure to click this post title to read the full post “Tips for Successful Students.”  

Successful students:

  • Are responsive and active.  They get involved in their studies and that also means they get involved in the class.
  • Have learning goals.  Ask yourself:  what are your career desires?  What are your life’s goals?  When you have an idea how you want your education to help you, it really helps you make the most out of each learning situation to help you achieve your goals.
  • Ask questions.  Asking questions is the fastest way to bridge the gap between ignorance and knowledge.  And, as a favorite professor (now retired) used to say, “There’s no such thing as a foolish question. You only short-change yourself when you don’t ask.”  Another highly successful mentor was fond of saying:  “The truth is that nobody knows everything, not even highly successful people.”  …which was really another way of saying Ask Questions!
  • Learn that a student and a professor make a team.  Professors and Instructors are on your team, so be on their team too!  That way everyone succeeds!  You succeed in mastering something new and they succeed in being a good, even great teacher!
  • Sit toward the front, not in the back.  Excellent learners actively engage in the process by focusing their attention on the material and the classroom discussion.  That means they don’t hang out in the back row.  They wade into the classroom environment and by doing so they minimize distractions around them.
  • Take good notes.  Good notes are understandable and well organized, and reviewed often.  So take notes that make sense to you and look at them often.  All of this helps to reinforce your learning.
  • Understand that actions effect learning.  Behaviors produce experiences.  If you behave interested even when you’re not but if you make yourself sit up straight and lean forward, look at the professor, and listen, you’ll actually *create* interest.  On the down side, if you feel bored or disinterested and allow yourself to stay like that, you’ll create a boring experience for yourself and make it even more difficult to learn.
  • Talk about what they’re learning.  Talk it out!  We’re copying this verbatim from the full post because it’s so important:  “…Transferring ideas into words provides the most direct path for moving knowledge from short-term to long-term memory. You really don’t “know” material until you can put it into words. So, next time you study, don’t do it silently. “
  • Spread studying out…don’t cram for exams. It bears repeating:  Spread your studying out!  Study specialists universally agree on this:  You’ll learn more, remember more, and earn a higher grade by studying in four, one hour-a-night sessions for Friday’s exam than studying for four hours straight on Thursday night. Short, concentrated preparatory efforts are more efficient and rewarding than wasteful, inattentive, last moment marathons. 
  • Are good time managers.  Successful students don’t procrastinate.  They value time, their own and others, and they actively manage it.   “…Failure to take control of their own time is probably the no. 1 study skills problem for college students…”   So throughout the semester, be sure to TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR TIME.