1. Choose Professors, Not Classes • It’s a classic picture of undergraduate life: a student leafing through the course guide, picking classes for the next term based on what looks interesting and also fulfills curriculum requirements. Don’t follow that model. • Find the best professors on campus and take their classes, even if they don’t seem interesting at first read. You may find these professors by talking to your adviser, using the school’s faculty review resources and asking older students about their favorite faculty members. Follow their leads. • A good professor will turn neutral subject matter for you into a joy; a poor professor will blunt your interest in a subject area you love. You are only going to take 35 to 40 courses during your time in college. Why waste one on a poorly designed class or a dry, energy-sapping professor?
2. Guard your time and be efficient in time management. • The saying is true, “Plan a minute, save an hour!” • Your life is made up of minutes and hours. • Don’t just veg in front of the TV or computer for hours on end with no end in sight. • Life is short and be aware that we will never have those minutes again. Who knows when our last days will be. Be wise in how you spend your time.
3. Always Go to Class • It may seem silly to remind you to go to class. But it won’t be quite so obvious as you settle into college life, when you realize that there’s no detention or punishment for missing classes, when you discover that the professor’s lecture notes are online and as your roommate pulls the covers over his head when the alarm clock rings for an 8 a.m. class. • Your class hours drop by more half when you go to college. You have access to some of the most accomplished experts in their field, and you are paying a tremendous amount of money to have access to them. Don’t waste it.
4. Take Care of Yourself • Part of college life is learning how to take care of yourself. Regulate your diet by eating healthy foods and resisting the temptations of the unlimited and unsupervised dining options. • Exercise to maintain your physical health: sign up for a gym class and find people who share your athletic interests. • Don’t forget to sleep. Keeping your body well cared for will help you stay healthier and be more successful academically.
5. Be patient and give yourself some margin• This next stage for you is about living and learning independently, skills that develop over time. Be patient as you and your classmates settle into college life. Don’t expect to be perfect, but draw strength and inspiration from your previous learning experiences. • All of your life does not have to be decided today. Relax, it is going to be okay. One day at a time.
6. Do not settle . . . LEARN! • The lesson here is simple, especially for college-bound students: you never know where or in what setting your passions will be discovered, and so you must allow yourself the opportunity to explore and take the risk of learning something new. • Your future may depend on it. • Learn ALL you can because you never know what lies in your future. Be a sponge and LEARN, EXPERIENCE, and DISCOVER. • The more curious you are in seeking new kinds of knowledge, the more creative you will be at synthesizing the complexities of our world.
7. Befriend your professors • Professors like talking to students. Seriously. If you go to office hours with questions, ideas or just to find out more about the course material, you’ll be surprised at how enthusiastic (most) professors are to sit and talk to you. More important, you may be surprised to learn how they’d like to get to know you beyond the paper or lab assignment you’ve handed in. • Take advantage of ways to talk to professors outside the classroom. You’ll learn more, have a greater appreciation of your academic experience and have more ways to find mentors, professional and academic references, and employers for research projects.
8. Learn to research from the librarian • Most college students can’t do research effectively, not even using Google. Fortunately, librarians are there to help. • Research includes gathering information that you report on. At other times, you analyze the information to create your own unique perspective. • Choosing a topic is the starting point of your research. If possible, choose a topic that is interesting to you or is something you want to learn more about. • Stay on target and look for information that addresses your research question or thesis statement.
9. Take good notes • Learn how your college professor teaches. • Start by titling your notes with the title of the lecture. Then write main points on the left side of the vertical line and elaborate more on the right side. • Review your notes before and after classes. This is proven to improve memory and raise grades. • Backing up notes by electronically writing them as well later on can improve your memory of the notes you take, and can also be helpful if something happens to hand written notes. • If professors provide copies of their PowerPoints it is good to download these ahead of class, read over the information, and take notes in the “notes” section of the PowerPoint. • Participate in class. If you are involved in class, you will look at your notes and remember more of the context of each point. Check out Evernote. Great resource for keeping yourself organized and your notes all in one place.
10. Never underestimate the value of communication. • The most valuable skill set I learned in college was to write clearly and coherently. • Whether you pursue a career in ministry, business, science, technology or the arts, the ability to convey your ideas, as well as argue and persuade effectively, is simply invaluable. • With this skill alone, you will be a treasured asset in any organization.
Enjoy College!! It can be some of the greatest years in your life!!