The former choice is the better one as it assures you that you will work toward a degree within a certain amount of time. The latter choice has no clear outcome and can lead to failure.
If you want to succeed in college, the following tips can make a difference.
1. Take ownership — You are the master of your college education destiny. Therefore, you ultimately decide whether your educational experience will be a good one or not.
2. Set goals — Without something to aim for, there will be nothing to attain. If your goal is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration within four years, then aim for that. You should also have a grade goal in mind such as achieving at least a “B” in your core subjects and a 3.00 GPA or better.
3. Required courses — Get your required courses out of the way as soon as possible. To delay taking these courses when available can delay your graduation date.
4. Broaden your horizons — You may be a business major, but consider taking electives outside of your field of study. For instance, if you have a passion for the environment, choose science courses that reflect this interest. A well-rounded education makes you a more marketable candidate later on.
5. Attend your classes — Unless you are sick, plan on attending every class. You’ll learn more and your professor may give you the benefit of the doubt and award you a slightly better final grade based on your attendance.
6. Take notes — You may have an excellent memory, but note taking is important and can help you prepare for quizzes, examinations and papers. Get in the habit of reviewing your notes regularly to keep up with your studies.
7. Participate in class discussions — Never approach college with the thought of being merely a student. You’re also a participant and your active engagement in class discussions will help you learn more and understand your material better. Class participation is often counted toward your final grade.
8. Stay organized — Create a system of organization that works for you. That may include having a separate notebook for each class, a 3-ring binder that allows you to add papers, organize your notes and store handouts.
9. Highlight your materials — Your notes, class syllabus, hand outs and books contain a lot of words. To keep yourself focused, highlight this information with a highlighter, to draw attention to what is most important. For books that you rent or don’t want to mark up, use post-it notes.
10. Begin term paper assignments early — As soon as your professor assigns a term paper, begin your research immediately. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to put your paper together, completing it ahead of deadline, and allowing you to absorb more information as you go along.
11. Study with regularity — College students often cram for tests and although this can still lead to a good grade, your retention level will be lower. Plan to study several days each week, spreading out your test preparation over weeks, not days.
12. Be precise — Use a dictionary and a thesaurus as you prepare your papers. Do not assume that you’re choosing the right words and substitute common words with words that have more depth and clearer meaning.
13. Get help — If you need help with one or more classes, then take advantage of your college’s resources. Visit the college writing center, the math lab and take advantage of counseling as needed.
14. Know your professors — Make an appointment with each of your professors. Know his or her office hours and stop by to ask a few questions about your class or to receive clarity on an assignment.
15. Take advantage of the library — Your college’s media center is there to help you out. Besides having books, computers and periodicals on hand, the library’s staff is there to help you find what you need. Do not rely exclusively on the Internet for your research.
16. Study abroad — For a well-rounded education, plan to spend at least one semester studying abroad. Your overseas educational stint can prove invaluable, exposing you to another culture and making you a more valuable recruit to companies post-graduation.
17. Get financial aid — Likely, you applied for financial aid when you started college. Apply again each year and look for new scholarship opportunities. You want to finish college with the smallest amount of debt possible.
18. Make friends — Your college years will go by fast, so make the most of your time there by getting to know your classmates. You may get close to a handful of people with one or two becoming especially close. College friends can become life friends, fellow students that offer mutual support as you begin your careers.
19. Seek an internship — By your junior year, you should qualify for an internship. Whether paid or not and whether college credit is offered or not, take advantage of such opportunities. An internship can help you prepare for your career and give you a leg up when it comes to looking for a job.
20. Write up a resume — Develop a resume to reflect your studies, internships and work experience. Update it as you move through college. Seek counsel through your college and career center for resume and interview tips.
21. Get LinkedIn — Besides a hard copy of your resume, an account on LinkedIn.com can help you connect with employers. Invest time to create a winning page. Check out its “student jobs” section.
22. Buy an interview suit — By your senior year, you should own an interview suit or what you will wear when you’re seeking a job. Don’t go cheap here — invest in a suit that conveys professionalism and confidence.
23. Graduate school or career — Also by your senior year you should know if pursuing a master’s degree is the better option or whether you should plunge into the world of work. Apply to graduate school early on and explore your financing options.
You’ll spend just four years at college, but those years can impact you for a lifetime. Make good use of your time and enjoy the ride while it lasts.
See Also — How to Cover Your College Expenses
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