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Twenty-five Secrets to College Success
Twenty-five Secrets to College Success
Success in your college studies is the result of many factors. Here are some practical things you can do to increase your chances of success.
- Develop a Clear Goal
Why are you going to college? What do you hope to accomplish? What career do you want to pursue? If you know what you want, it is also often easier to endure what must be done to get there. Enrolling in SLS 1301 Career Planning and the World of Work and SLS 1401 Computerized Career Exploration may be a good way to clarify your career goal. If you would rather do it yourself, self–directed “Career Options” booklets are available from any campus student success office.
- Have an Academic and Career Plan
Academic advising is an important part of any student’s success. Your counselor or advisor can help you determine exactly what courses you need to take for a given program, major and transfer institution. For students planning to transfer to a university, requirements often vary from one university to another and usually involve certain prerequisite courses that you need to work into your program of study. You should select a major and transfer institution as soon as you can, since some programs of study have many prerequisite courses. It is also a good idea to meet with a counselor or advisor any time your plans change. You may make an appointment in any campus counseling and advising center.
- Set Clear Priorities
Without clear priorities, what is more important can sometimes get lost in what is more fun or exciting. You should have a clear sense of what comes first and should monitor your own activities to make sure they reflect this set of priorities. Developing a weekly schedule – with an appropriate balance between your priorities – is one way to do this.
- Take an Appropriate Class Load
Twelve credit hours is a minimum full–time class load. If you are employed 20 or more hours a week, you should probably take three to nine credit hours (one to three classes), depending upon the difficulty of the classes, the amount of time you have to study, your GPA and other factors. If you are not sure, generally it is better to take a lighter load rather than risking one that is too heavy. Students who are not working and who have a high GPA (3.0 or higher) can often take 15 (or sometimes more) credit hours. Summer (six weeks) term class loads should usually be no more than half as many credits as during a fall or spring term.
- Review Your Degree Audit
Your degree audit summarizes your progress toward your degree and lets you see what you have yet to finish. The degree audit does not include university prerequisites; see a counselor or advisor for this information. To obtain your degree audit go to FACTS.org.
- Register Early
The earlier you register, the better selection of classes you will have. It is a good idea to seek academic advising before the beginning of registration.
- Use College Resources
Florida State College has many resources that can help you succeed. You should familiarize yourself with the assistance available within the learning center (help with reading, writing, mathematics and other subjects), the career center, the computer lab, the learning resources center (library), the foreign language lab and the campus counseling and advising center.
- Know College Rules and Procedures
You should thoroughly familiarize yourself with the information in your College catalog; the procedures for dropping or withdrawing from classes, the grading system, deadline dates (listed in the catalog calendar), the student code of conduct and grade appeal procedures are some of the things you need to know about.
- Sharpen Your Learning Skills
Many students have difficulty simply because they have never learned certain basic study skills. Develop these skills by adding Strategies for Success in College, Career and Life (SLS 1103) or the college prep SLS 0001 to your schedule. You’ll gain a unique advantage in the classroom and in the workplace with the survival and success skills taught in this course. Topics include goals and priorities, maintaining commitment, teamwork and decision making, learning skills, leadership styles and skills, and much more.
- Develop Computer Skills
No matter what your major or program, computer skills will be helpful to you. Word processing, for example, can greatly increase your efficiency with any kind of writing assignment. Computing resources are generally available in the learning resources center and the computer lab. CGS 1570 Microcomputer Applications, OST 1100 Keyboarding/Introduction to Word Processing (for those without typing skills) and/or OST 2771 Word Processing I can be good courses to develop these skills. Non–credit courses are also readily available.
- Speed Up Your Reading
Reading speed and comprehension are fundamental to college success. No matter how well you presently read, you will benefit by increasing your reading skills. By doubling your speed (often a realistic goal), you can cut in half the time required to read certain kinds of assignments. Such courses are often taught in continuing education programs.
- Develop Critical and Creative Thinking Skills
One of the ways that college is different from high school is the degree to which professors expect you to be able to think in analytical and creative ways. These skills come more naturally to some people than others, but anyone can enhance them by following certain guidelines and through proper practice. Two particularly useful books on this subject are “Brain Power” by Karl Albrecht and “A Whack on the Side of the Head” by Roger von Oech.
- Attend All Your Classes
This is the simplest way to get better grades. Many students fail simply because they miss class and, therefore, fall behind in their work. Also, some instructors have an attendance policy (outlined in their course syllabus) that allows only a few absences before your grade is affected. Other professors may not have an attendance requirement, but do not be misled – they will still hold you responsible for what is covered in class and for the work you miss.
- Be Prepared for Class
This is an obvious but often neglected principle. Being prepared for class means having your assignments done on time, completing the required reading in your text and giving some thought beforehand to the day’s topic of discussion.
- Read Your Course Syllabus Carefully
Your instructor is obligated to provide you with a course syllabus that summarizes the requirements of the class, the basis for assigning grades, any attendance policy and other relevant information. Read this very carefully and ask questions about anything you do not understand.
- Talk to Your Instructors
If you are having difficulty in a class, often the best thing to do is to talk to your instructor. He or she may be able to suggest better ways to approach the material or other ways to get help with your class work. Be sure to ask about any class assignments or requirements that may not be clear to you. Also, if you are going to ask for an exception to an established class policy or procedure, it is often best to make an appointment and do so in private.
- Start or Join a Study Group
It is often helpful to study with a group of other students taking the same class. This gives you a convenient way to ask questions about assignments, share insights, compare notes and quiz each other in preparation for exams.
- Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are not sure about something. Instructors usually appreciate questions as a way of clarifying what they are teaching. Asking questions is the most direct way to find out what you need to know. If you have a question concerning College policy or procedure, the campus counseling and advising center can usually be of some assistance.
- Use Supplemental Textbooks
If you are having difficulty following the material presented in a text, you can often find another text covering the same material in a different way. By doing a little research in the library, you can locate another book that is more in tune with the way you like to learn, that provides examples or presents the material in a clearer fashion. Ask a librarian for assistance with this.
- Be Persistent
The best way to achieve your educational goals is to stay in school. This sounds simple, but many people drop out before they have really given themselves a fair chance to succeed.
- Participate in Other Activities
There is more to campus life than just attending classes. Participation in student activities, clubs and other organizations can make you feel more a part of the College, help you develop leadership skills and give you the opportunity to develop friendships. Stop by your campus Student Life and Leadership Development office for more information.
- Face Problems Head–on
If you are having a problem related to your school work, it is wise to do something about it as soon as you can. If you are not sure what to do about a concern, a counselor can often help you clarify your situation and your options.
- Be Assertive
Learn to stand up for your rights. The College has grievance and appeals procedures to help assure your fair treatment. If you think you’ve been treated unfairly or unreasonably, make an appointment to talk with a counselor or the campus dean of student success to get some advice on how to best handle your situation.
- Get To Know Yourself Better
The more accurate and realistic you are about your goals, abilities, skills and circumstances, the better able you are to chart out a wise course to college success. A counselor can also provide you with information about personality testing if you think this may be helpful.
- Assume Responsibility for Your Success
No one has more to gain (or lose) than you. Every decision that you make makes a difference – how you spend your time, how carefully you complete your assignments, how hard you study for an exam and how determined you are in achieving your goals – each such decision will either bring you a step closer or further away from your goals.