The Road to College Success
Flora M. Brown, Ph.D.
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Everything you need to succeed in college is on your campus and within you.
College campuses are virtually small towns designed to meet your academic, social, and other needs. Most campuses have student government, planned activities, sometimes housing, job placement, theatrical and musical productions, tutoring programs, writing centers, computer labs, a variety of eating spots, a bookstore/gift shop, fitness labs, a financial aid office and many more exciting services. There are the teachers, administrators and classified workers to help also. To succeed in college you must learn the lay of the land--the services, your teachers and campus procedures and deadlines. Here are some tips that will help you find your way down the road to college success.
1. Find out what student services your college offers and begin using these services right away. On our campus, services such as tutoring programs (group and individual), skills lab, a computer lab, library, Disabled Student Center and the Health Center are free (or part of your enrollment fees). If math is not your strong subject, for example, begin visiting the math tutor for help with your homework from the very beginning.
2. Get involved in non-curricular campus activities. Most campuses offer a wide range of activities such as student government, theater productions, clubs, religious groups, sports, music, Greek organizations and recreational activities. Students who last in college often have been active on campus in some way. There are often activities and meetings for returning students, women, single parents or recovering victims of substance abuse. One year my family and I traveled to the Rose Bowl Parade on a bus trip provided by our campus. It was wonderful to enjoy the parade without having to drive the approximate 50 miles one way and deal with parking. Take advantage of any group or activity that will appeal to your taste and needs and makes you feel a part of the campus community.
3. Contrary to rumors, teachers are human so begin to learn your teachers. They have personalities and preferences that determine their teaching styles. Some teachers prefer to lecture and have you take notes in silence. Other teachers ask questions about the concepts
to stimulate class discussions. Pay attention to gestures, body language, word choice, but especially the concepts they emphasize. If a teacher says “. . .and most important. . .” the
next thing the teacher says is destined to appear on a test.
4. Believe your teachers’ policies and adhere to them. Some teachers abhor tardiness and absolutely will not allow you to enter class late. Some teachers even take points off your
grade for lateness or absences. Other teachers may tolerate your tardiness to class, but
will not take late assignments. Don’t count on making up for lost time with Extra Credit assignments at the end of the semester. This is a popular concept in high school, but not in college.
5. Ask the teacher when you don’t understand. Many students make the mistake of asking fellow classmates to clarify what a teacher has assigned. That often leads to further misunderstanding. If you’re too intimidated to speak up in class, go to the teacher’s office.
All college teachers must keep office hours so that students may visit them. Take your book
or the assignment that is unclear with you. Frame your question in a way that lets the teacher know that you’ve done your best to understand it on your own. For example, ask “ When I read Chapter 3, it defines the Oepidus Complex. Does the Oedipus Complex apply to males and females alike?” Don’t ask “I didn’t understand anything. Can you help me?”
6. Learn the important campus deadlines to save time, money and your grades. If you drop
a class before the first deadline for dropping, a “W” won’t appear on your transcript. Learn the bookstore’s deadline for getting a full refund. If your campus offers telephone registration be sure to call on the date you were given. Otherwise, you may not be able to enroll in classes you need and want.
Following the six ideas given here will help you learn the lay of the land called college and insure that your experience is enjoyable and academically successful as well.