Succeeding in College

Just as in elementary school through high school, your success in college requires high motivation and effort, strong study skills, effective time management, and good test-taking strategies. These areas are covered in other screens here at But college success requires much more. Once you move from high school to college, you will generally find that students are more motivated and competent than in high school; teachers are more demanding; the work is more difficult; and students are expected to be independent. Further, if you are living away from home for the first time, you will have many new experiences.

Here are some ideas that will help you succeed in college:

Have Clear Goals

College success requires commitment and a lot of hard work. You must be very certain about the importance of a college education.

  • College Success, BuildingBe clear about why you are going to college.
  • Establish specific goals you wish to accomplish.
  • Know what it will take to reach these goals.
  • Be certain your goals are consistent with your interests and abilities.
  • Be flexible – change your goals if needed based on your experience as you progress through college.

Get Financial Aid if Needed

College is expensive. Even if you attend a public college or university and live at home, you still must pay for tuition, fees, and books. There are many sources of financial aid that can help you meet the high costs of college. Become aware of and pursue these sources.

  • Consider all possible sources of financial aid in addition to your college’s financial aid office.
  • Meet all deadlines for submitting applications and documentation.
  • Respond quickly and completely to all requests for additional information.
  • Be persistent in following up your application.
  • If you do receive financial aid, meet all requirements to keep and continue your aid.

Manage Your Money

  • College Success, MoneyThere are many ways to spend money in the college setting for other than education purposes. Take steps to ensure that you do not waste the money set aside for your college education.
  • Set a budget and keep to it.
  • Be careful about your use of credit cards. Don’t overspend. Pay balances promptly to avoid high interest costs.
  • Open a checking account and carefully monitor your balance.
  • Keep your cell phone under control. Those minutes and fees can really add up.

Stay Physically and Emotionally Healthy

You will need to be at your best to succeed in college. This means taking care of your body and maintaining a good frame of mind.

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Don’t rely on coffee and drinks that contain high doses of caffeine to provide you with energy. Foods such as pasta, peanut butter, non-sugar cereals, and fresh fruit are healthy alternatives to provide the energy you need.
  • Avoid junk foods. Fast food is convenient but usually not good for you.
  • Use the services of the student health office. These services typically include emergency treatment, low cost examinations, and low cost or free medication.
  • Use the services of the counseling office. The professionals there can help you overcome feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Choose a Professor Carefully

In college you get to select your schedule of classes. Most classes offer more than one section so that you can choose not just the day and time but the professor who is teaching that section. Often you will find student ratings of professors on the Internet. You can get even more feedback by talking to other students. Try to choose a professor who demonstrates the following characteristics.

  • College Success, BlackboardMaintains adequate office hours.
  • Provides constructive feedback.
  • Adapts to different styles of learning.
  • Grades fairly.
  • Is highly competent in the subject being taught.
  • Establishes clear and reasonable requirements.
  • Provides a positive learning environment.

Work With Your Advisor

As a student you will be assigned a faculty advisor to help you with both academic and career issues. It is up to you to get the most out of this guidance.

  • Know your advisor’s office location, schedule of office hours, and contact information.
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor at any time you have problems that affect your academic performance.
  • Consider your advisor’s ideas when selecting your major or at any time you are considering changing your major or career goals.
  • Have specific questions in mind whenever meeting with your advisor.

Make Good Use of the Library

You are going to spend a lot of your time in college at the library. Take full advantage of this major resource.

  • Get to know the resources of the library as soon as you get to college.
  • Learn to use its computer resources and card catalogs.
  • Make good use of its equipment such as copy machines, microfiche readers, production facilities, etc.
  • Check out its quiet study areas. Sign up for their use if required.

Get Involved in Campus Life

There is a lot more to college than just classes. A college campus is an exciting, dynamic environment that can provide you with many opportunities for enhancing your college experience.

  • College Success, AthletesJoin a student organization that is consistent with your interests. You will find many organizations from which to choose.
  • Join a club in your major. This cannot only help you in your studies but can provide contacts that may be very useful in your future career.
  • Join an intramural team. This is a great way to keep yourself in good physical shape and make new friends.
  • Attend social events. Your college experience should not be all work and no play.

Yes – success in college takes effort. But this effort will provide benefits to you throughout your life. The ideas presented above can help you to make your college experience a successful one.