How to Ensure Academic Success
A Step By Step Plan To Academic Success
Step 1: Plan Your Time
- Invest in a good calendar. Note all of your important dates on it right at the beginning of the quarter. Look at your course syllabi to find out exam dates, when papers or projects are due, finals schedule, etc.
- Make a weekly schedule. Include classes, work, time for sleeping and eating, extracurricular activities. Note faculty office hours on the schedule. Look on your calendar to see what big events are coming up and plan accordingly.
- Block out study time on your schedule. Allow approximately two hours of study for each hour in class
Step 2: Be Prepared for Class
- Attend every class. This is obvious, but many students fool themselves into thinking that they can read the book or get the notes from someone else and learn the material.
- Come prepared. Review the previous day's notes before class. Look over the reading assignment to refresh your memory.
- Listen. How the professor presents material, what is emphasized and what isn't, are important clues to what will be stressed on exams. If you are daydreaming or reading the newspaper while the professor is lecturing, you will miss this information.
- Review. Right after class or as soon as possible, review your notes. While the material is still fresh in your mind, make corrections or additions from what you remember from class. If there is something that is confusing or you feel you missed, go to your professor's next office hour and get it straightened out.
Step 3: Study Efficiently
- Don't Procrastinate. Use your calendar to plan enough study time for each class each week and stick to it. If you have a project to do and you are finding it hard to begin, break it down into small pieces and force yourself to do the first one. Usually, once you have made a start, it is easier to pick it up the next time.
- Find an Appropriate Study Place. Some students like it very quiet; others can concentrate better with background noise. Whatever your needs, find a place and make it your regular study space. But make sure you are not fooling yourself. Hanging out in the University Union where every person you know walks by and starts a conversation with you, is not making good use of your study time.
- Concentrate on One Thing at a Time. Be active with your study time. Set a goal for what you want to accomplish before you begin. Focus your mind on the subject at hand and concentrate. If your mind begins to wander, take a break. In general, you should take a short break after every 30 or 40 minutes of studying
Step 4: Make Use of "Wasted Time"
- Use Your Daylight Hours. Don't save all of your studying to do in the evening after dinner. There are many small blocks of time during the day that you can take advantage of. Use this time to:
- Review notes before class
- Rewrite and review notes after class
- Memorize important terms or concepts
- Work problems
- Make lists of things you need to get done
- Visit a faculty member
- Read the next chapter in your textbook
- Make flash cards
- Be Prepared For Unexpected Free Time. Bring your textbook or your flash cards with you so that if you are delayed in the doctor's office or are waiting for a friend to arrive for a dinner date, you have some work or reading that you can do.
Step 5: Be Realistic in Your Expectations
- Set High Standards, But Don't Be a Perfectionist. Sometimes students want a project or report to be perfect, and spend so much time on it that other classes suffer. Or conversely, they never get around to starting the project because the idea of making it perfect is just too overwhelming. Instead of trying to get it perfect, just do it! Give it your best effort in the time you have allotted, and then move on.
- Reward Your Successes. When you keep to your study schedule or get your paper done, take the time to acknowledge your accomplishment with a meaningful reward. Getting through college can be likened to a long distance race. You need to pace yourself and recognize milestones.
- Realize That Developing Good Work Habits Takes Time. Don't get discouraged if you do not see improvement right away in your study skills or time management behavior. Just keep working at it. Changing habits requires persistence. You will notice the changes over time.