12 Steps to Becoming a Great Student
- Come to class and pay attention. This one should be a no-brainer. If you must miss class, e-mail your professor in advance and explain your situation. And when you’re in class, be visibly attentive; let your professor know you’re in the room.
- Learn to balance your studies and your job. Your job is not an end in itself but a means for you to go to university. To confuse those priorities is to defeat the very purpose of being here.
- Be prepared in advance for all of your assignments. This is called “studying.” Get used to doing it; it will be your primary activity for the next four years.
- Read sitting up (not in bed), with a pencil to mark up the text. A clean text is an unread one. And whenever the professor reads a passage out loud, mark it if you haven’t done so already. It may be on the next test.
- Find a quiet, regular place to study. This is your special sanctum, for that purpose only. Don’t eat, listen to music, or entertain your friends there.
- Study in sessions of no more than an hour, then take a break. Three sessions of fifty minutes each week is better than three hours at one sitting. A general rule is two hours of study time for each hour of class.
- Finish your papers several days early so you’ll have time to revise them. Go to the Writing Center if you need help. Read your paper out loud to a friend; you‘ll be surprised how many mistakes you catch.
- Know your professors’ office hours and take advantage of them. Talk to these people. They have an interest in helping you succeed--and get lonely during their office hours if no one comes.
- Go regularly to the library; knowledge is in books, not on Wikipedia. Consider your college education a bibliography for the rest of your life.
- Find an appropriate social outlet. The best students are well-rounded. A social outlet is not, however, a wild night on the town. Join campus organizations or watch free on-campus movies. Check the school newspaper for events happening both on campus and in the community.
- Begin studying for an exam a week early. And learn proper test-taking skills, e.g.: write identifications in complete sentences; make sure your essays have thesis and topic sentences; if you have a choice of topics, choose the one(s) that will show the breadth (not just depth) of your knowledge; and proofread your exam papers before submitting them.
Enjoy yourself. This should be, literally, the time of your life.