Although the weather seems to indicate otherwise, Fall is here. Across the nation, the start of the new season means back to school. It’s a time for new instructors, new opportunities and new students. It doesn’t make a difference if you just finished high school or if you’ve been out of school for 30 years, the college world might still be new to you.
A common question for new students is: what do I need to do to be a successful college student?
The obvious answer might be STUDY! STUDY! STUDY!
In addition to focusing on studying and keeping up with your course readings, I’ve learned some great tips from instructors, students, department chairs and college administrators and have decided to share the inside scoop with you.
I’m not talking about a marriage proposal here. I mean get involved.
Being actively involved in class discussions is important, but also consider being involved in the activities, clubs and organizations that your college has to offer. For example, CCA has several clubs, organizations and recreational sports for students to get involved in. If there’s something that you would like to be involved in but it doesn’t exist, contact the Student Life office of the school that you attend, and they can tell you how to get a club, organization or sport started. It might be easier than you think. Students that have an interest and active role in campus life are able to meet other students with similar interests and balance their days with studies and engaging activities.
Facebook is fun, but meeting people in real life is the best way to build a network of people to help you be successful.
If you’re engaged, then you will have already met people with similar interests. In addition to getting to know your new friends, you should network with your instructors. You don’t have to become BFF’s, but your instructor has life experience and knows people in the industry. Get to know your instructor and get to know who they know. They might suggest volunteering or attending a guest lecture. They might also suggest joining a professional organization. These are all ways to expand your social network. When searching for a job or a promotion, in addition to what you know, it’s also about who you know.
I don’t think that I’m the only one, but I know that when I was a little kid, I used to annoy my parents by asking, “Why?” after everything they said.
It’s time to bring back the old habit and start asking questions. Asking questions in class is going to help you understand the topics that are being discussed. It doesn’t matter if you know exactly what you want to study and what your career path might be, asking questions will be a helpful tool in finding your path or solidifying your decision. It will also help you get that “A” you’re looking for.
You can use this tool with the new social network that you’ve started developing. Start asking them questions. Find out where they work. How did they get into their current job? What life experiences have they had? Where did they go to school?
The point is to find out even more than what is available in your courses’ textbooks. Ask your professor and classmates about a lesson or theory that you just learned. Do they feel like the theory is true? Does the lesson apply to a “real life” work situation? Ask, find out, and learn.
Olympic Athletes are a great example of those who “dig deep” to find their passion or the motivation and drive to earn the gold medal.
As a new student, it’s time to find your inner Olympian and dig deep into your studies. It might be for a research paper that you’ll find yourself buried in a stack of books, news articles and other resources. Or there could be some long nights spent with classmates, hashing out a group project. The hard work and determination will pay off in the long run, and that 10, 20, or 30-page paper will be proudly displayed on your refrigerator, with the excellent grade gleaming in the sunlight.
New students need to also research their interests. Just as you research for a long paper, you can also research careers, topics and professionals that interest you. While you’re digging, it’s important to think about why you’re interested in what you are researching. If you think it’s fun, ask yourself “why?” If you like a specific part of your research, but not a different part, ask “why?” If you’re not sure of the answers to these questions, ask your social network what their thoughts are.
Make Time for The 3 F’s
Everything seems easier if you’re having fun doing it!
We all have things to do in life that are challenging. We can spend hours and hours dreading it and thinking about how we don’t want to do it, or we can think of a way to make it fun. This might mean starting a study group or setting up a rewards system for getting work done. Fun might be as simple as turning on music or breaking up the study time.
Making time for fun, friends and family (The 3 F’s) will be helpful. Life gets busy, and you may need to formally schedule time for The 3 F’s. That’s ok. Make your schedule and let your friends and family know about it. If people know that you are only available at specific times for social/fun activities, they will learn to work with you and your timetable. This will help you balance your course work and the many other things that you have going on in your life, which must include fun!
These are just some of the tips that I have learned about. The reality is that the road to success looks a little different for everyone. New students notice quickly that college is full of people from different backgrounds, countries and lifestyles – this is part of what makes college exciting. Now I want to know what works for you.
Leave a comment and share your tips for being a successful new student.