KEYS TO COLLEGE SUCCESS*

 


TAKING NOTES:

 

         Basics

Clear,Concise notes are more effective than copious notes.

Instead of using a spiral, use loose leaf notebook divided into class sections.

Make all notes on loose leaf paper. In an upper corner title and date each sheet as you use it.

Rewrite and combine your old study and lecture notes into a new single set of notes or outline. Use them as a replacement for your old notes in the loos-leaf binder.
This gives you complete control of, and fast access to, a crucial part of the learning process - Your Course Notes - their organization, additions, replacements and rewrites!

         Lecture Notes

Sit near the front of the class to avoid distractions.

Be a good listener - Focus and concentrate on the main points of the lecture. Get them down on paper. You'll put them in your own words later, along with your study notes. Pay attention to the Instructor's clues as to what they consider important.

If there is something you don't understand, ASK!

For fast classroom access to key information on major topics, use a Quick Study chart, if available.

Immediately after a lecture, without looking at your notes, try to recall on a seperate paper as much as you can about what you have heard and learned. Then review your actual lecture notes to confirm and/or supplement your memory.

During your next study session, quickly recall again on paper what you learned. Then review and reorganize your lecture notes in your own words.

Repeat the recall process several times over several days to commit the new information to memory!
Your listening skills, note taking and ability to manage your sessions, will be the prime determinant of your success in college!

 

 

DEALING WITH PROFESSORS AND TOUGH CLASSES

 

         Go to see your professors during their posted office hours. They have to sit there whether you show up or not, so take advantage of the opportunity.

         Talk to other students to find out the real scoop, which professors to avoid, etc.

         Dont be afraid to ask other students and professors for copies of old exams. The questions may change but the style usually remains the same.

         Make sure your professor knows your name. Putting a face with a name will be a big help, especially if your grade is on the borderline.

         Problems with faculty should be handled honestly and calmly. Always try to remedy conflicts with faculty members first. If the problem remains unresolved, seek advice from your academic advisor, a student support services staff member, or your student handbook as to the next step.

Department Chair

Dean of the College

Chancellor or Vice President of Academic Affairs

Ombudsman

Student Government Attorney

         What irritates Professors and Instructors?

Sleeping in Class

Brown Nosing

Not going to class

Lack of responsibility

Not reading syllabus

Excuses

Not meeting deadlines

 


STUDY STRATEGIES


TIME MANAGEMENT

         LEARN TO SAY NO! - Saying no to partying, movies, etc. does not make you a terrible person.

         DO NOT STUDY FOR MORE THAN 2 HOURS AT A TIME - Your brain really does shut down and any studying you do after that point is just a waste of time.

         USE TRAVEL TIME TO STUDY - Pop a study or lecture tape into your car's cassette player; put on those earphones if you ride the train or car pool. If you use a laundromat, listen to study tapes while your clothes spin and dry.

         TRY TO STUDY DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS - Natural light really is more conducive to learning.

         USE TWO SCHEDULES

Create an hour by hour weekly schedule. Using your class schedule as a guide, block out specific times each day for study and all other activities; RULE OF THUMB: one and a half hours of study for each hour of class.

Create a semester schedule showing midterms, finals, due dates and other important events. Review both schedules weeklyand allow more study time as needed. A good schedule keeps you from wandering off course.

         PRIORITIZE - Daily list what you need to study, prioritize and set times for each item and stick to it.

         USE THE 30-3-2 SCHEDULE

Study for 30 minutes.

Take a 3-minute break. Let the break be a time to think about other things

Upon returning, take an extra 2 minutes to mentally review what you have just read and do a quick preview of what is coming up next.

STUDY - BREAK - REVIEW - PREVIEW - STUDY

 


BRAIN POWER


CAN YOU REMEMBER

         Memorize From General To Specific - Study the big picture, then learn the details. Learning and memorizing are like a funnel - the process is not very effective when the small end is at the top.

         Cramming Does Not Work! Cramming for an exam only commits the information to short term memory. You will forget what you never really learned.

         Four Basic Reasons Why We Forget Pieces Of Information.

Dont use the information.

Confuse it with other information.

Decide the information does not match what you already believe.

Never really learned the information in the first place.

         Keys to Remembering.

Be Interested. Pay Attention. Consciously choose to remember. Establish a need to remember.

Visualize. Picture in your mind what you wish to remember.

Relate. Relate and form associations between the new ideas and information you wish to remember and inforamtion, ideas, persons, things, etc. that you already know.

Repeat. Even though something is initially learned it will more than likely be forgotten if not over learned. Be sure to repeat information in your own words.

 


EXAM STRATEGIES


PREPARATION

         Learn the exam format: e.g. facts vs. concepts.

         Review course outline, notes and Quick Study Chart.

         Review previous tests; check at departmental office.

         Summarize highlights on single sheet.

 

MEMORY DUMP At the beginning of the test, write down on scrap paper everything you remember-formulas, facts, names, etc; scan the test questions; then do second memory dump and begin the test.

OBJECTIVE EXAMS

         Scan the exam to determine types of questions asked.

         Always read & follow directions!

         Determine the exam's scoring rules and use them.

         If wrong answers are penalized, don't guess unless you can reduce the choices to two.

         Answer easy questions first.

         Mark difficult questions and return to them later.

         True-False questions:

         Pick out key words or group of words on which the truth or falsity of a statement hinges.

         If any clause in a statement is false, the statement is false.

         Multiple-choice questions:

         Multiple choice questions are essentially true-false questions arranged in groups.

         Usually only one alternative is totally correct.

         Eliminate obvious false choices.

         Of the remainder, pick the alternative that answers most fully all aspects of the question.


ESSAY EXAMS

         Planning your time in answering essay questions is more important than in objective-type tests!

         Read through the entire examination first.

         Get a feel for the questions you are expected to answer.

         If the exam allows you to choose from a number of questions, be sure to number your answers exactly to match the questions.

         Follow directions carefully.

         Pay attention to the key words in the question. Words such as "list," "describe," "compare and contrast," and "outline" require different types of answers.

         Don't "write around" the question but answer it directly and concisely.

         Outlining.

         After scanning the list of questions to be answered, choose the ones you know most about.

         On scrap paper quickly prepare an outline of important ideas and facts to be included in your response.

         Your opening statement summarizes what you are going to say.

         What follows should support your opening statement.

         Your conclusion should show how your body text supported your opening statement.

         It is absolutely essential that your ideas can be read and understood: Print if your cursive writing is very hard to read; know and use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

 


THEMES AND REPORTS


REDUCING WRITING ANXIETY

         GET A CALENDAR OR ACADEMIC PLANNER.

         Follow the tips in the scheduling time box of this chart.

         First, write down the due date for the paper.

         Next, count backwards. How many days will you need to edit, re-write, revise, write, take notes, research, read, select, and narrow the topic?

         Now you know what day you will need to begin the paper.

         Review and revise this process after each paper.

         BE SURE TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOUR INSTRUCTOR EXPECTS.

         INVEST IN A COMPUTER and learn to type your own papers. Do not depend on other people to bail you out; you will quickly learn that everyone has their own paper to deal with. Even paid typists can be unreliable.

         DON'T BE AFRAID TO EXPRESS A UNIQUE OPINION. The key is to document and support your ideas in an organized and cogent manner.

         WHEN PROOFREADING TEXT, start at the end of your paper. Read one sentence at a time and work your way to the beginning. Why? Your brain already knows what you have written. By reading from the end to the beginning, the pattern is broken and you will find more errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

         DO NOT RELY ON SPELLCHECK. Remember "principle" and "principal" are both correct spellings. Which word did you intend to use? Other biggies-"to" and "too," "it's" and "its."

         PLAGIARISM MEANS TAKING ANOTHER PERSON'S WORDS OR IDEAS AS YOUR OWN. Be careful to always cite your source, whether you quote directly or paraphrase. Remember, if it's not common knowledge or your original idea, you must cite the source.


LIBRARY TIPS

Be sure that the topic is acceptable to the teacher and has sufficient available resource material.

         Do not wait until your first research paper/project to scope out the campus library.

         Many libraries offer tours for freshmen.

         Find out early what resources the library has.

         Learn now to use its computers and card catalogs to find books by subject or author.

         Practice using every machine in the library. (i.e. microfiche, CD Roms, etc.)

         Use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature for magazine articles; Encyclopedias for general information on most known topics; Almanac for facts, lists, charts and tables; Atlas for maps, etc. Ask the librarian for instructions on using them and help in locating other specific reference sources for your paper.

         Know, in advance, copier laws and procedures. Where are copiers located? Does the copier require cash or some sort of copy card?

         Talk to other students, especially those browsing shelves or studying in the same area as you are. You never know what kind of contact you could make or what kind of information you could gain.

         Check out the local community libraries. They may house the one obscure article or book you need to earn that "A."


WRITING THE PAPER

         Make/use index cards ( put the topic at the top of each card), notes, bibliographies, summaries, reports and reviews as part of your preparation process to organize your materials.

         PREPARE A WRITTEN OUTLINE.

Don't make the mistake of trying to keep everything in your head.

Make your outline in the form of main headings or ideas with sub-headings fleshing out the flow of the paper. This will establish the paper's content and conclusion.

         WRITE THE PAPER

Use the outline as a guide and stick to it.

Write in your own natural style.

Reread, rewrite, revise and edit until the paper says exactly what you want to say in the way you want to say it.

Use Correct Punctuation and Grammar.

Use a spelling and grammar checker if using a word processor.

 


READING SKILLS


SKIMMING & SCANNING
Skimming & scanning enable you to select Material(s) which should be read and/or discarded

         WHEN TO USE:

To quickly determine main idea.

To locate facts quickly.

To answer test items.

To answer chapter questions.

         HOW TO USE:

Fix intent for reading (or facts sought) clearly in your mind.

Scan table of contents, chapter headings and subheadings.

Quickly move eyes over reading material-focusing upon page headings and sub-headings, discarding information that is obviously not related to reading intent.

Skimming reading rates should be twice as fast as average reading speed.

Selectively omit portions of reading material.

Locate as quickly as possible the key or topic sentence of each paragraph (usually, but not always, the first sentence).

Practice skimming and scanning to locate information- repeated practice will increase speed.

Read carefully the last paragraph for summary information.

Carefully review tables, charts and any side boxes.


THE SQ3R+READING METHOD

         SURVEY

Preview the assignment or material to be studied by scanning the text quickly to discover the author's central concept.

From your preview, formulate an overall picture and the purpose of what you're going to study.

         QUESTION

What you need to learn in terms of: what, why, how, when, who and/or where to support the central concept.

Write these questions in the margins of your textbook or at the top of your lecture or study notes.

         READ

Read specifically to answer the questions.

Most paragraphs contain one or more main ideas in support of that concept.

Locate and highlight them with a marker. Make notes in the margins summarizing key points. Pay special attention to bold or italicized type and to tables, graphs & illustrations which may explain an idea more powerfully than the text.

         RECALL

Pause periodically (every 15 minutes or so) to recall in your own words a summary of what you have read: what the important ideas or concepts are and how the text, examples, graphs, charts or illustrations support them.

Write on notepaper as much as you can recall about what you have read and learned! Each mini-review is a knowledge builder and memory reinforcer.

         REVIEW

Did you answer your questions, understand the new material and accomplish your goal?

Reread difficult parts, work a few more problems.

Recalling and reviewing the same materisal several times over a period of several days in the best way to fully absorb and remember it!



TIPS FOR FRESHMAN


I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME...

         Class attendance really does correlate with your grade. GO TO CLASS.

         COMMUNICATION IS KEY- especially when dealing with roommates and professors.

         BE ON TIME TO CLASS. Walking in late distracts both the professor and other students.

         DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP.

         COLLEGE IS NOT A CONTEST. You don't have to compete with anyone else for your grade. Learn at your own pace and don't feel inferior if you don't understand something the first time around.

         The bureaucracy of higher education is overwhelming. Stay calm, ask questions, and be sure you know the name of the person you are talking to.

         SUPPORT SYSTEMS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR SURVIVAL. Make friends. Talk to everyone.

         EXPECT TO FEEL LONELY, FRIGHTENED, AND ISOLATED. But also remember-you are not the only person experiencing these emotions and it all gets better with time.

         READ WHAT YOU ARE GIVEN! Read your mail!

         Don't take policy advice from other students, check with offices on campus.

         JOIN IN ALL THE ACTIVITIES YOU CAN.

         DON'T BE INTIMIDATED BY THE FACULTY AND STAFF. Your tuition dollars pay the salaries of university and college personnel. You are the customer; they work for you, so ask questions.

         YOUR COLLEGE CATALOG IS YOUR BIBLE. You have to open it in order to reap the benefits of what is inside.

         Get a copy of your school's code of ethics ( honor code). A simple mistake could cost your degree.

         MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE, be a good listener, stick to your own convictions, and strive past your dreams.


REGISTRATION AND ADVISEMENT

         ACADEMIC ADVISEMENT IS CRITICAL! See your advisor on a regular basis to make sure you are on track with your academic program, courses, etc.

         PAY ATTENTION TO DEADLINES! If you miss one, it could cost you not just money, but grades as well (ex. drop/add, fee payment, course withdrawal).

         If your school offers phone registration, use it. In person registration usually means long lines and high frustration levels.

         Be sure to have university or college representatives sign every form dealing with course selection, dropping classes etc.

         You may need to defend a course selection when you apply for graduation or you may need to prove you dropped a class.

         SAVE EVERY GRADE REPORT. Computers have been known to lose grades, courses, credits, etc.

         Periodically ask for an unofficial copy of your transcript.

         BE SURE YOUR RECORDS MATCH THE REGISTRAR'S.

         Select classes based on your own academic capabilities. For example, if science is not your forte, don't take biology and chemistry in the same semester.

         Be very careful registering for writing classes during shorter summer semesters. The same holds true for classes requiring large amounts of reading.

         READ THE COURSE CATALOG CAREFULLY. As a rule, freshmen should not register for a senior or graduate level class (usually 4000+level). Typically, freshmen are the last students to register, so PLAN AN ALTERNATE SCHEDULE PRIOR TO REGISTRATION. Your first choice classes may be filled.


DORMS-DO'S AND DON'TS

         RESIDENT ASSISTANTS ARE A VALUABLE RESOURCE. Be sure to maintain open communication with your RA.

         You must leave the building when a fire bell rings.

         CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. Avoid roommate problems and bug infestation.

         MANY SCHOOLS OFFER "SPECIALTY FLOORS". Reserve your room early and be honest about special requests.

Quiet study floors.

Upperclassmen floors.

Health and wellness floors.

Chemically sensitive floors.

Multicultural floors.

         GET INVOLVED IN RESIDENCE LIFE. Almost every school sponsors some type of residence hall government and community activities.

         LOCK YOUR DOORS- even when you are in your room! Better safe than sorry.

         PAY ATTENTION TO FEE DEADLINES. Non-payment of housing fees can result in you living in your car.

         IF YOUR SCHOOL ALLOWS COOKING IN THE ROOM: Check to see which appliances are permitted for dorm use.

Dorm size refrigerator.

Microwave.

Toaster Oven.

HOT PLATES ARE RARELY ALLOWED!

All appliances must have enclosed coils.

         Never leave your food unattended.

         Store leftovers quickly and properly.

         Take out the trash every day!

         Remember, some schools do provide community cooking facilities, but you may need to clean the area before and after you cook.

 

DEALING WITH DIVERSITY

         Realize that every college and university has its own culture which includes language, traditions, and taboos.

         THERE ARE FIVE STEPS TO CULTURE SHOCK. As a freshman, you may experience some or all of the following phases. You may experience these phases in any order, and some phases may repeat or overlap.

Phase one- Fascination with the new environment.

Phase two- Severe homesickness.

Phase three- Find fault with new surroundings; build stereotypes.

Phase four- Find humor in your adjustment.

Phase five- Embrace the new culture; you will miss it when you go.

         IN ORDER TO BECOME MORE COMFORTABLE with the college or university environment:

Learn the jargon of higher education.

Realize your own preconceptions and perceptions.

Actively try to make friends.

Look for common ground.

Look for individuals, not stereotypes.


STAYING HEALTHY

         BEWARE OF FAST FOOD AND CANDY BARS. Most freshmen gain weight in the first semester.

         Gallons of coffee and Jolt cola are not the way to survive finals.

         SLEEP AND STUDY IN SMALL SHIFTS.

         EXERCISE OFTEN DURING EXAM WEEKS.

         Pasta, peanut butter, non-sugar cereals, yogurt, and fresh fruit will provide natural and sustained energy.

         Check in with your school's health services office. More often than not, it offers:

Free emergency treatment

Low cost Ob/Gyn exams

Free condoms

Low cost dental cleaning and x-rays

Low cost or free medications

Free AIDS testing

Low cost lab work

APPRECIATE MUSIC- it helps everyone to relax.

 


MONEY MATTERS


FINANCIAL AID

         START EARLY AND BE PERSISTENT. 99% of the time the money will not come to you.

         CONSIDER EVERY POSSIBLE SOURCE of educational funding and good money leads.

Your school's financial aid office

The admissions office and recruiters

Your academic college

Your church

Clubs and groups your parents belong to

Local civic and special interest organizations

Professionals already working in your major field

Scholarship resource books

Other students

Honor societies, sororities, fraternities, etc.

         FILL OUT ALL FORMS COMPLETELY AND NEATLY. Include all required documentation.

         PAY ATTENTION TO PAYING DEADLINES. Sometimes only a few days can cost you big dollars.

         RESPOND QUICKLY to all requests for additional information and documentation.

         STICK WITH IT! Sometimes the process is slow and frustrating, but remember, each year thousands of dollars of financial aid funding is unused. Be tenacious and those dollars could be yours.

         MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE A FINANCIAL AID OFFICER AT YOUR INSTITUTION. Discuss the difference between grants, scholarships, subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, etc. Find out what type of aid you are eligible for and what type of aid you can live with later( paying back those loans?).

         IF YOU ARE AWARDED FINANCIAL AID, be sure you know what guidelines you must maintain in order to keep your award (i.e., GPA, work status, etc.)


MONEY SURVIVAL

         Realize from the onset that tuition does not include any other expenses.

         Books are expensive. SHOP EARLY IN ORDER TO HAVE THE BEST SELECTION OF USED BOOKS.

         You will be bombarded with credit card offers. Be careful, melting the plastic now may cost you a car or mortgage later.

         The best way not to overspend is never to sign the credit card agreement in the first place.

         GET A CHECKING ACCOUNT and learn how to keep your account in balance. Most banks have customer service representatives who can assist you.

         HINT- Check to see which bank sponsors the ATM on your campus.

         SET A REALISTIC BUDGET AND STICK WITH IT. Remember to include allowances for variable expenses such as clothing (new purchases and cleaning), transportation, personal care items, leisure activities, and an emergency fund.


FINDING A JOB

         It's never too early to contact your school's Career Development Center.

         STUDENT EMPLOYMENT OFFICES usually list more than one thousand part-time jobs for students. The great part of these listings is that employers who contact the school for potential employees know that students will answer their ad. These employers usually do not squabble about your class schedule.

         ALWAYS GO TO AN INTERVIEW LOOKING PROFESSIONAL.

         The local federal job service is also an excellent source of employment.

         DON'T CHEW GUM AT AN INTERVIEW.

         Don't apply for a job in food service if you do not intend to cut your hair.

         DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED if your first job is not in your major field.

         ALWAYS BE ON TIME FOR APPOINTMENTS.

         Be sure to call well in advance if you need to cancel.

         BE SURE TO FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS(i.e., Don't call a potential employer if the ad says Fax a resume).

         ALWAYS PRESENT A RESUME- no matter how brief.

 


COMMUNITY RESOURCES

 

         MAKE YOURSELF AWARE OF COMMUNITY RESOURCES, especially if you are in a new town.

         Be aware of support services. You never know when you (or a friend) may need help.

Churches.

Support groups.

Counseling centers.

         Realize that you are a member of the total community.

         Do not limit your vision to the college or university. Do some volunteer work each semester. It's a great way to build your resume and gain practical experience.

         It's a great way to feel "good."

 

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*The writer of this article is unknown.