13 Tips For Academic Success In College
Start writing a post

13 Tips For Academic Success In College

Good grades and a fun social life can coexist!

13 Tips For Academic Success In College

The transition from high school to college can be difficult because the academic expectations tend to be very different. In high school, teachers remind you of due dates frequently and even give you checkpoints for big projects. In high school, teachers tell you exactly when to take notes and sometimes even tell you exactly what notes to take. In high school, teachers factor in lots of small participation and homework grades to cushion test grades. In college, these things are not always the case. Every professor is different, but in general, the bar is set much higher. To be academically successful in college, you can’t necessarily rely on the same strategies you used in high school; don’t expect to just show up and have everything fall into place. College requires a lot more organization, planning ahead, and effort than high school does. Here are 13 tips to make your freshman year (and every year after that) academically successful:

1. Use a planner.

I can’t stress this one enough. Invest in a nice planner that will work for you and use it every day, multiple times a day. Don’t just use it to write down due dates and events, use it to plan out your day and manage your time.

2. Read every syllabus.

Syllabi are crucial to success in college because they lay out the expectations, due dates, and big projects for each class. Read the syllabus for all of your classes and become familiar with them, because most professors will briefly discuss them on the first day and never refer to them again, yet expect you to understand all that is on it.

3. Take good notes.

College professors won’t tell you when to take notes or how to take them like the teachers did in high school, so it’s really important that you initiate your own note taking. Write everything down that could be on a test or quiz. As you get to know the professor you’ll know more of what to expect on tests, so your notes will become tailored to the class, but until then, write down as much as you can.

4. Go to the library.

Getting homework done in your dorm room, or even in the comfort of your apartment, can seem impossible because there are so many distractions. Instead, find a quiet space on campus to work. The library is my workplace of choice and plays a huge role in my own academic success. So, I highly recommend scheduling some regular library time into your school week.

5. Plan your day so you can get homework done before dinner time.

There are so many fun things to do in college, but your main priority should be school. The best strategy for balancing your social life and academic life is to work hard during the school day so your nights are free. For example, if you have a big gap between your classes, go to the library to crank out some work during the break instead of going back to your dorm room to take a nap. Plan your days so you can get everything done before dinner time, that way you won’t have to worry about turning down fun, evening opportunities because of homework.

6. Find out what study strategies work for you early on.

You might find that the way you studied in high school doesn’t work as well in college because there’s a lot more content to learn in a shorter period of time. I personally like typing up all of my handwritten notes from class into an organized guide and then reading over it a few times the week before the test. If I have to remember a lot of dates and events in chronological order, a comprehensive timeline full of mnemonic devices is where it’s at. Find what works for you and take advantage of it!

7. Don't save studying and projects for the last minute.

Procrastination is not your friend in college. In high school it might have been easy to pull together a research paper the night before it was due and still get a decent grade, but in college that won’t fly. Time management is a major key to success in college, so it’s important that you get good at it.

8. Grade yourself.

Carefully look over the rubrics for projects and papers before, during, and after working on them. Imagine you’re the professor and determine whether or not you’ve met their expectations before turning in your work.

9. Do the readings.

Some professors assign regular reading to reinforce their teaching, but won’t actually test you on it. If you’re not really understanding the lectures, it’s important that you do those readings! However, you may be able to get good grades without this extra work, and that’s okay too.

Other professors will assign readings that go beyond the scope of what is discussed in class. They may not quiz you the next day on the readings (or maybe they will), but questions surrounding them may be on the test. Figure out what you need to be successful in each of your classes and understand that what works in one class might not work in another.

10. Proofread your work!

Don’t ever turn in something that you didn’t proofread a few times-- even if it’s just a simple forum post, or an easy homework assignment. You can save yourself some important points by eliminating typos and accidental mistakes. Professors can tell if you didn’t proofread, and taking the extra time to ensure that your work is quality will always play out in your favor.

11. Do your best.

If you truly put forth your best effort, you will do just fine. Professors appreciate the students who actually care about making their learning experiences meaningful, and your dedication can be the difference between an A and a B, or even an A and an A-. The only A-’s I received came from classes that I didn’t work very hard in. For example, I got an A- in sophomore level English because I thought that I wouldn’t really need to try in that class, since English is my forte and I’m even working towards becoming a language arts teacher. Although I still technically got an “A,” that minus is why I have a 3.9 GPA, which of course is still great, but it’s so close to a perfect 4.0 that it’s disappointing.

12. Don't be afraid to communicate with your professors.

If there’s something you don’t understand, ask your professor to clarify. If you’re too nervous to ask during class, email them afterwards or go to their office hours. This also goes for projects and papers. If you’re not sure if your work is meeting expectations, ask your professor! If you didn’t plan your time well and are scrambling at the last second to turn something in, don’t be afraid to ask for more time; just be honest and let your professors know as soon as problems arise. Your professors are people too and were students once (or maybe still are)! Chances are, they will work with you and even give you some good advice.

13. Utilize the resources available to you.

Any quality university or college should have a tutoring program, librarians who can help you with research and a writing center, among other academic resources; use them! I work in my university’s writing center, and I can tell you that we don’t bite. All of the writing center people I’ve met are super laid back, writing-nerds who would love to help you become a better writer, so don’t be scared to come visit us!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.


Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments