Top 10 Things Every College Student Should Know: As Told By The “Old Man On Campus.”

*KTSW consists of and respects varying opinions within its staff. Opinion articles do not reflect the opinion of KTSW as a whole.

As the summer session is starting and the new student orientations commence, it’s a proper time to address some of the keys to a successful college career.  When it comes to advice, you should always “consider the source.” In this case you should not stray from this time-honored advice, and I hope that I can persuade you that I am indeed the horse mouth you want to listen to.

Pomp and Circumstance
Pomp and Circumstance Photo by Jimmy Preston

Let me start by explaining that I graduated from highschool in the spring of 1993.  I started my college career at The University of Alabama in the fall of 1993, and I quickly worked hard to obtain academic probation. I had a GPA one particular semester that summed to exactly a 0.0. I know how to do it the wrong way. I can excel at the extracurricular activities, but the problem was that I had my priorities poorly calibrated. I entered school with my eyes focused on the finish line, and the hills and valleys along the way were not seen as experiences, but rather as hindrances.

It was only after I took 20 years off and jumped into the “Real World” and had my soul sucked out by the corporate machine that i realized the true value of an education. I focused on the techniques that led to good results in the grade book, and I was consistent with my drive to get good grades. So I started paying attention to what was keeping me sane. I started obtaining a high GPA and along the way, I compiled a list that can help anybody be a successful student.

Here are my Top 10 Things Every College Student Should Know:

10. GET SLEEP! – The most important thing you can do is keep your mind well rested. I have often skipped studying for a few extra hours of sleep.  The rest you get will allow you to focus and listen to your intuition.

9. TAKE NOTES LIKE A MAD MAN. – The notes that you take during the lecture will be crucial to you gaining a better understanding of the subject matter. You will thank yourself when you sit down to study at a later time. Research shows that if you hear it, write it and say it your brain will retain the material for a longer period of time.

8. VISIT YOUR PROFESSOR DURING HIS/HER OFFICE HOURS. – Visiting your professor outside of the scheduled class time can go a long way to demonstatrate to your professor how important your education is to you. The one-on-one time can be invaluable toward gaining a deeper understanding of the concepts covered in lectures. It is also important to remember that you are one of hundreds of students for which your professor is responsible. A visit during office hours can help you stand out from the crowd. One or two visits can go a long way to helping your professor justify rounding up instead of down when calculating your final grade for the semester.

7. IT PAYS TO GET INVOLVED… JOIN A STUDENT ORGANIZATION OR CLUB. – This tip is all about accountability.  By joining an organization filled with your peers, you can build an accountability network that can keep your, “eyes on the prize.” The networking can also be helpful in finding other students with similar interests and degree plans.

6. PAY ATTENTION! THE WORLD IS YOUR CLASSROOM. – I am constantly amazed when I leave campus and pop on the radio and hear a news report correlating with the lecture I just attended.  The concepts we learn in the classroom have “real-world” applications. Keeping your mind open and aware of the oppurtunities to apply the classroom learning in a practical way can reinforce the learning process.

5. I KEEP GETTING OLDER AND THE PROFESSORS KEEP GETTING YOUNGER. – Stay in school, or you may find yourself finishing your degree in your 40’s and learning from professors younger than you.

4. I KEEP GETTING OLDER AND THE GIRLS STAY THE SAME AGE. – Stay in school, or you may find yourself finishing your degree in your 40’s and surrounded by a bunch of ladies that just assume you are a university employee or professor from all of your grey hairs.

3. APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS AND GRANTS. – Do not sleep on this step. Free money is free money. Visit sites like College Greenlight and College Fish for scholarship oppurtunities, and apply for the oppurtunities provided by your institution (Texas State Financial Aid). Also check out my other blog about the B-On-Time Loan.

2. NEVER BUY THE TEXTBOOK THAT IS RECOMMENDED UNTIL YOU COMMUNICATE WITH THE PROFESSOR. – There is nothing worse than showing up for the first day of classes with your $200 textbook and then the professor tells you that you most likely will not need it. Before classes even start, send a message to the professor and get clarification on your textbook requirements.  If the required version is the 10th edition, ask if the 9th edition will work.  The differences from edition to edition is often minimal, and can save you hundreds of dollars.

1. IF YOU GO TO EVERY CLASS YOU ARE ALMOST GUARANTEED A MINIMUM OF A “C.” – If you go to every class you will not miss anything. Even if you don’t take notes (SEE: #9), you will accidentaly learn something if you pay attention. In the end, when you are sitting in front of your Scantron and your #2 pencil, the amount of time you spend in class will lead to less guessing, and higher grades. It should not be forgotten how important attendance is when the professor tallys the final grades.

While this isn’t a perfect list, if you follow these rules, you may find yourself on the Dean’s list before you know it.

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