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Tips for College Success

ALL I WISHED I HAD KNOWN AS A FRESHMAN

DEALING WITH PROFESSORS AND TOUGH CLASSES

DEALING WITH THE CULTURE OF COLLEGE

EXAMS

FINANCIAL AID

PAPERS

REGISTRATION AND ADVISEMENT

STUDYING

TAKING NOTES



ALL I WISHED I HAD KNOWN AS A FRESHMAN

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

COMMUNICATION IS KEY - especially when dealing with roommates or 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, 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 ACTIVITES YOU CAN.

DON'T BE INTIMIDATED BY 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 you your degree.

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

DEALING WITH PROFESSORS AND TOUGH • CLASSES

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GO 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.

DON'T 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.

1. Department Chair                       
2. Dean of the College
3. Chancellor or Vice President of Academic Affairs
4. Ombudsman
5. Student Government Attorney

WHAT IRRITATES PROFESSORS AND INSTRUCTORS?

1. Sleeping in class
2. Not going to class
3. Lack of responsibility
4. Not reading the syllabus
5. Excuses
6. Not meeting deadlines

DEALING WITH THE CULTURE OF COLLEGE

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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 order, and some phases may repeat or overlap.

1  Phase one - Fascination with the new environment

2  Phase two - Severe homesickness

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

4  Phase four - Find humor in your adjustment.

5  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:

1  Learn the jargon of higher education

2  Realize your own preconceptions and perceptions.

3  Actively try to make friends

4  Look for common ground

5  Look for individuals, not stereotypes

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.

1. Churches
2. Support groups
3. 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.

1  It's a great way to build your resume and gain practical experience.

2  It's a great way to feel "good".

EXAMS

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PREPARATION

1     Learn the exam format: eg. facts vs. concepts

2     Review course outline and notes

3     Review previous tests; check at departmental office

4     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 test

OBJECTIVE EXAMS

1     Scan the exam to determine types of questions asked

2     ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS

3     Determine the exam's scoring rules and use them

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

4     ANSWER EASY QUESTIONS FIRST

5     MARK DIFFICULT QUESTIONS AND RETURN TO THEM LATER

6     TRUE - FALSE QUESTIONS;

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

b)      If any clause in a statement is false, the statement is false

7     MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS:

a)     Multiple choice questions are essentially true-false questions arranged in groups

i                   Usually only one alternative is totally correct

ii                 Eliminate obvious false choices

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

ESSAY EXAMS

1     PLANNING YOUR TIME IN ANSWERING ESSAY QUESTIONS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN IN OBJECTIVE TYPE TESTS!

2     READ THROUGH THE ENTIRE EXAMINATION FIRST

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

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

3     FOLLOW DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY

a)     Pay attention to the key words in the question

i.     Words such as "list", "describe", "compare and contrast" and "outline" require different types of answers

b)     DON'T "WRITE AROUND" THE QUESTION BUT ANSWER IT DIRECTLY AND CONCISELY

4     OUTLINING

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

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

b)     Your opening statement summarizes what you are going to say

c)      What follows should support your opening statement

d)     Your conclusion should show how your body text supported your opening statement

5.     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.

FINANCIAL AID

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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:

1. Your school's financial aid office

2. The admissions office and recruiters

3. Your academic college

4. Your church

5. Clubs and groups your parents belong to

6. Local civic and special interest organizations

7. Professionals already working in your major field

8. Scholarship resource books

9. Internet

10. Honor societies, sororities, fraternities, etc.

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

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 (ie., GPA, work status, etc.)

PAPERS

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REDUCE WRITING ANXIETY. Get a calendar or academic planner. Follow these tips:

1     First write down the due date for the paper.

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

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

4     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 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 end to 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 are: "to" and "too", "its" and "it's".

 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.

When 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

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

2     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.

1     Use the outline as a guide and stick to it.

2     Write in your own natural style

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

4     Use Correct Punctuation and Grammar.

       DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOUR FIRST RESEARCH PAPER/PROJECT TO SCOPE OUT THE CAMPUS LIBRARY.

1     Many libraries offer tours for freshmen.

2     Find out early what resources the library has and what deficiencies or limitations the library has as well

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

4     Practice using every machine in the library (ie. microfiche, CD Roms, etc.)

5     Us 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.

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".

REGISTRATION AND ADVISEMENT

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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).

I
f 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 may be filled.

STUDYING

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 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.

1     Create an hour by hour weekly schedule. Using your class schedules 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

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

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

USE THE 30-3-2 SCHEDULE

1     Study for 30 minutes

2     Take a 3-minute break, let the break be a time to think about other things

3     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! This may be a case of stating the obvious but your would be surprised how many students don't bother.

STUDYING WITH SOOTHING MUSIC in the background (contrary to popular opinion) can enhance your concentration

Floral scented candles and mixed floral potpourri facilitate learning (strange but true).

 Studying in a soft chair or on a cushy bed may not be the best strategy.

1     Active learning may require walking around the room or sitting on the edge of the chair

2     Wake up your body - Wake up your mind

STUDY SPACE: Your regular study space should be as quiet and comfortable as possible and large enough to have easy access to everything you need for studying (text and reference books, paper, pencils, etc.)

1     Libraries, study lounges, or private rooms are ideal.

2     Get rid of clutter. Clear the desk or table of all materials not related to the current project.

TUTORING IS NOT A NEGATIVE THING! Get help early before the academic damage is irreversible. Many schools offer free tutoring in a variety of subjects.

Study groups are great but in general studying alone is more effective

MEMORIZE FROM GENERAL TO SPECIFIC. Study the big picture, then learn the details. Learning and memorization 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 your short-term memory

FOUR BASIC REASONS WHY WE FORGET PIECES OF INFORMATION

1     Don't use the information

2     Confuse it with other information

3     Decide the information does not match what you already believe

4     Never really learned the information in the first place

 KEYS TO REMEMBERING

1     Be interested. Pay attention. Consciously choose to remember. Establish a need to remember

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

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

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

SEVEN IS THE MAGIC NUMBER. Repeat difficult information seven times a day for seven days. -OR- Create seven index cards with the word or fact written on them. Tape the cards in places where you go frequently (ie. mirror, fridge, etc.) then forget about them. After two weeks you will subliminally absorb the information

KEY IDEAS

1     Highlight them in your textbooks and outlines

2     Give extra attention to words or phrases in bold

3      Make up acronyms or mnemonics to recall (ie. Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally = parentheses first, then exponents, then multiplication, division, addition and subtraction) or (Na, I don't want no Soda crackers = Na = Sodium)

TAKING NOTES

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Clear, concise notes are more effective than copious notes.

Instead of using a spiral, use a 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 a loose-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 thereof!

LECTURE NOTES:

     

1   Sit near the front of the class to avoid distractions

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

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

4   Immediately after a lecture, without looking at your notes try to recall on a separate 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

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

6   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!


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