12 Steps to Becoming a Great Student


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Go regularly to the library; knowledge is in books, not on Wikipedia. Consider your college education a bibliography for the rest of your life.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Enjoy yourself.  This should be, literally, the time of your life.