How to Succeed in College?
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College is supposed to be one of the most vital and stimulating experiences of an individual’s life. It’s the first time you break out of your protective shell and into the real world. For many, college spells freedom. But a wise person once said, with great freedom comes great responsibility. If you enjoy the freedom college provides without the responsibility it demands, it can turn into the most expensive mistake you’ve ever made.
Amidst all the late-night parties, new friendships, odd jobs, and co-curricular activities, it can be easy to lose focus and stray from your ultimate goal of graduating on time. The longer it takes to graduate, the more classes you’re forced to take, the more money you’re spending, and the further away you are from achieving your goals, which can lead to frustration that may finally cause you to drop out of college.
So, how do you make sure that your college journey is a success? The trick lies in smart planning and then following that plan. As a starting point, here are some tips on how to succeed in college:
Choose Your Major Wisely
One of the biggest reasons people are unable to graduate on time is because they choose the wrong college degree. While it could be that expecting a teenager to know what he/she wants to do with their life at such a young age is probably asking too much, that’s how the system works, and we need to find a way to work within it.
The primary way to successfully decide what you want to do is get in tune with your interests, capabilities, and personality. Figure out which classes you enjoyed the most in high school, stuff that you’re good at, or things you are passionate about. Make sure you choose college programs that suit your personal goals rather than fit into anyone else’s idea of what you should be doing. Once you’ve zeroed in on a college major, then you can start looking at colleges and universities offering your preferred major.
If you’re not one of the lucky ones whose parents had the resources and/or foresight to save for your college career, you will likely have to depend on a combination of resources to finance your education. Proper financial planning is another key to making college a success.
As soon as you’ve decided on a major and have applied to a college, start researching the financial aid options that you are qualified to receive, and then start applying for them as soon as possible, as some of them work on “first come, first served” basis. In case you have to take out an education loan to fund college, stick to federal loans that have lower interest rates and flexible payment plans.
And if you’re planning to work your way through college, or at least a part of it, make sure you are able to balance your job with school, and that prioritize your education. Overtime, working two jobs, working weekends and holidays, etc., may help you pay your tuition, but if it leaves you too exhausted for your coursework, there’s little point in attending school.
One of the most important tips for making your college education a success is to limit the use of your credit card. If you don’t spend wisely and pay your bills on time, not only will you end up with a huge debt to pay off, but you will also have a negative credit report.
Once you learn to manage your time in college, you’ll have developed a valuable skill you can use for the rest of your life. Distractions like hanging out with friends, attending party after party, spending time on the Internet updating your Facebook and Twitter statuses, playing video games, or focusing all your energies on extra-curricular activities can wreak havoc on your schedule.
This does not mean you have to stay cooped up in your room after class, but it is necessary you learn to balance these activities, managing your time so that you are able to enjoy the good things about college life without falling behind on your coursework.
Again, school should remain your priority—don’t miss classes, as you may find it difficult to grasp the topic through self-study, or you may miss an important discussion you won’t find in your textbook. Make use of the resources your college has in place for you to connect with your instructors and tutoring staff for clarifications or to clear up doubts about any topic you find particularly difficult.
Dedicate two to three hours each day to studying and submit your assignments on time. Procrastination is the biggest evil that lies between you and your college degree.
Finally, having a study partner and organizing group study nights can make learning fun, provided it doesn’t get transformed into an impromptu party scene.
Stay Healthy and Have Fun
One of the most important tips for succeeding in college is to stay healthy. There can be a lot of peer pressure to party endlessly, smoke and drink excessively, stay unhealthily slim, and look good at all times. You don’t have to do anything just to fit in with the crowd or appear “cool.”
Remember that you are in school for a reason, and spending thousands of dollars so you can make something of your life at the end of four years. You will be a huge disappointment to yourself and your loved ones if the only things you learn in college are different ways of drinking beer and purging food.
College is one of the most important experiences of your life—plan carefully and always prioritize your schoolwork, but don’t forget to have fun. After all, you will never get these years back!
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