A brand new school, new town to explore, and new chapter of life mean new study habits. Freshman year is a whirlwind of new, exciting experiences, but you can’t forget the real reason you’re here, to get that degree! College is a competitive setting where every student wants, or should want, to be the best they can be. Whether that means having all A’s, graduating with honors, or even just being accepted into their program of choice, most students have a drive to succeed.
We all want to reach our goals, but it’s important to know how to do so, rather than going in blind and having to figure everything out on your own. We’re here to give you some the low- down of how college really works and a few tips and tricks from some other university students on how to earn those “A’s”, and have a great first semester.
You’re an independent young women, and you don’t (think) you need someone to tell you what to do.
With all the new found freedom, you need to keep your focus on classes, even when all of your friends want to have girls night in or you get invited to that super fun date party. You control your own success now. Learning time management is a major part of college, and without it it’s hard to succeed.
As hard as it may be waking up for an 8am class that’s all the way across campus, you need to go.
Attending class is one of the first steps to a successful college career. Although, attending class provides you with attendance points (an easy grade booster), it can make facilitate learning in many ways. Even if you read all assigned chapters or supplemental material, the profesor can offer a better understanding of material by explaining a topic in a new way or offering a different application of it. Professors may also give specific examples in class, that are not offered in the textbook, which will more than likely come up on an exam.
” I’d say that the general information is primarily in the book, and theoretically if a student has a perfect understanding of it, just from reading, they could pass the test. Out of the fifty questions on each test I’d say about 35 can be answered from the textbook, the other 15 come from examples given in class or topics not in the book. So coming to class is really essential.”
-John Shadwick, Biology Professor at the University of Arkansas
Additionally, if you go to class you will, or should, be taking notes. Writing your own notes in a way you understand, as opposed to using a friends, can aid you in studying later on. Writing down information is shown to help retention of material, thus leading to a high exam score.
College classes are a much bigger time commitment than a high school class, because of the amount of assigned reading, length of required papers, and sheer amount of material covered. The amount of study time necessary for each student varies, but as a rule of thumb expect 3 hours of studying a week per 1 credit hour. The average college freshman take between 12 and 15 hours of enrollment, therefor an average of 36- 45 hours of out of class studying should be expected. This practically a full time job! Just as you write down your work schedule, you should pencil time in your calendar for set study time. Setting time to study ensures you don’t overbook yourself, or forget about assignments. Furthermore, writing down the due dates of all quizzes, exams, papers, and any other assignments will help you keep track of them all and keep you organized. Don’t know the due dates? Look at your syllabus or consult your professor.
Alex Dickson, a fellow college students from the University of Arkansas, like to “make a to-do list each morning with everything I want to get done by the end of the day. I prioritize assignments that are due soonest, take the most time to complete, but one I finish what I need to turn it it’s time to study. I like to read over the notes from that days class as a little review session each day, this really helps me when it’s time to prepare for a test. This keeps the information fresh in my mind and helps me remember it more.”
Lecture style classes are a big transition from participation based high school classes. Say goodbye to worksheets, small groups, and in class discussion for the most part. Unfortunately, you are thrown in the the world of lecture on your first day, and will continue to be taught this way for the next four years, like it or not. It’s a challenge to get used to lecture at first, but it can be done.
My first few weeks of college classes were a complete blur, but I remember my first lecture clearly. Principles of Biology was known to be one of the hardest classes offered for freshman at the University of Arkansas, and lucky me it was my first college class ever. Walking in to a massive lecture hall was a nerve wracking experience because I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I quickly found a seat at the front of the room and pulled out my laptop preparing to take notes, the class began a few short minutes later. The professor introduced himself and briefly went over the syllabus, then moved promptly into the first chapter. He lectured for 55 minutes straight, taking few breaks to answer questions. I frantically wrote down notes from the powerpoint projected at the front of the room while the professor talked. It was difficult to keep pace with listening and writing down everything. This is exactly how I imagined college; professors lecturing and students writing, nothing more and nothing less.
Being talked at for 55 minutes at a time can be boring, making it difficult to pay attention the whole time. Although talking is the main component of class there are several others, “… It’s more than just talking, there’s a PowerPoint projected with diagrams and main points of my lecture. That helps some kids just understand it better. I use clicker questions so that, one, I can take attendance, and two, students will be actively engaged with the lesson,” says John Shadwick, Professor at the University of Arkansas. Using these different tactics during lecture helps to serve: auditory, visual, and reading/writing learners
The key to understanding the lecture, no matter what learning style you are, is being prepared for class, always read assigned materials before class because they offer a base for understanding what is going to be covered in the lecture. Taking notes also aids in being engaged with the lecture. Sometimes you may find it hard to keep up with how quickly the information is being taught at (don’t worry I did too). You may be tempted to write down everything that comes out of the professor’s mouth, but don’t do that. Robotically copying down each word defeats the purpose of taking notes. Write down main topics and key examples only. Refer to this page, , if you want more tips on how to take fantastic notes.
Never heard of SI before? I hadn’t either before going to college. Supplemental Instruction (SI) classes are weekly tutoring meetings offered to students who are enrolled in traditionally challenging classes. Enrolling in these sessions offers students the opportunity to review material taught in class with a peer coach that had previously earned an “A” in the class being taught. These session are usually free to students, and offer new understandings of material, additional examples, and hands on activities.The University of Arkansas claims, ” students who attend ten plus classes [of SI] during a semester earn higher grades in course than students who do not.”
Asking a question in front of 400 peers can be uncomfortable. But what about asking a question in front of 15 peers? The small group setting of SI encourages students to ask questions on topics they are confused on, and chances are if one you’re confused at least one other student is too. Never be embarrassed to ask a question. The small group setting makes conversations more personalized and intimate, for the students. Additionally, SI is not a lecture, but a more diverse learning environment. Students who are not primarily auditory listeners can benefit from worksheets, videos, and group activity offered during SI.
Being Prepared is A Huge Confidence Boost.
Being confident in your abilities leads to better performance, and in this case this means test scores.A study conducted at the University of Iowa showed that confidence can impact academic performance by up to 12%. Reviews or pre- tests are provided, and are a fantastic way to gauge how ready you are for an exam.SI offers review sessions before tests, in addition to weekly meeting, only for students enrolled in SI. This give you one last chance to understand a challenging topic and master it before you will be tested on it. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you are fully prepared for an exam ahead of time. This also gets rid of all night cram sessions the night before the test, a big no-no.
College is a big adjustment from your high school life, and can be really difficult at times, but it is possible to succeed. With dedication, hard works, and a whole lot of studying you can earn that “A” you’ve been dreaming of. You are your own boss now, so make smart decisions and keep your goals in mind. Going to class and time management are the biggest keys to success in college. Eventually you’ll master the art of lecture learning, but enrolling in SI sure does help, especially in a difficult class. SI is a hidden gem in the world of college, so be sure to take advantage if your school offers it. Using these tips and tricks you can earn your first ever college “A’s” and be on track to a successful college career.