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Success In College

College Success Tips

  • The cardinal rule of college success is, without a doubt: GO TO CLASS! This means that you go to class when it is raining, when you got in late the night before, when the material being taught is boring or already familiar to you, or when you feel just a little "under the weather". You need to hear what is being said in class and you need the professor to see you attending and participating actively in the course. The professor must feel you are interested. You show this through several strategies that will pay off whether you are struggling or doing well. They include:
    1. Sit in the first 2 rows so you can be clearly seen and look attentive! 

    2. Ask at least 3 questions over the first 5 sessions and answer 3 questions early in the course if you can.

      This will leave favorable impression on the professor. One UCONN, Storrs student told me she had followed these guidelines and one day she was very sick and didn't go to class. The professor gave a pop quiz. Now, that is bad because if you are not there and the professor gives a pop quiz - you get an F! That will lower your grade significantly and your GPA. This student asked to take a make-up exam but was told that it was school policy not to allow make-up exams. The student was very disappointed because she had worked hard to have high grades and now they would be lowered by this one F. The Professor looked at her and said, "There is one thing I can do...I am allowed to discount one pop quiz if I give over a certain number. I have reached that number. So, I will give one more at some point and if you are there, you will receive the grade from that quiz and I will through out the other quiz." So make yourself known and liked by every professor.  

  • Talk to the professor about the difficulty you are having.
    There are many good reasons why a student who is struggling in a class should talk to the instructor. These include obtaining some supplementary instruction, some pointers about how best to study, some feedback about where you seem to be going wrong on tests and papers, and some perspective on why students typically struggle in the class and what is helpful to turn the situation around. Further, it gives you an opportunity to impress on the professor how much effort you are expending and how much you want to improve.

  • Seek help - from a tutor in the learning center, a study group, a friend who did well in the course last year.
    Everyone needs help at some point. Even the best students may need help. The resources are there, so use them! Perhaps take the course with a friend who is very strong in the field.

Adapted from Success Tips from the University of Maryland Baltimore County

  • College Knowledge - 150 key terms, definitions, and links you need to know as a college student from

  • Never forget a task! - Remember the Milk is an easy-to-use tool to manage your class assignments and other activities across all of your devices. And it's free! Click on the icon to learn how one college student uses RTM to organize the semester.
    outline of a cow head cartoon with words remember the milk

  • Micro-Progress and the Magic of Just Getting Started - An important aspect of success in college - and in your career after - is staying on top of your workload and ahead of deadlines. This is a great article from the New York Times that presents this idea.

More College Success Tips

  • Be a robo-notetaker. In many intro courses, the professor's lectures form the major part of the material tested on the midterm and final. So you should be writing down everything the professor says in the lecture. Don't worry too much about the structure, and forget about special "note-taking systems" (Cornell Note-Taking System, Mind Mapping, or the "five R's of good note taking"). Just get it all down-you can always fix it up later.

  • Double up on tests. Before each test, take a practice test you make up, with questions similar to the ones you expect on the real test. Write it out under test conditions (no notes, limited time). Use handouts, study guides, homework and labs, old exams, and hints from the prof or TA to construct the test. If you get to a test and the questions look surprising to you, you haven't really prepared properly.

  • Join a community. Many students, especially in the sciences, improve their grades with "study buddies" or study groups-especially when their cohorts are smarter than they. Try to meet at least once a week-especially in courses in which there are weekly problem sets or quizzes. Students can improve their grades one level (or more) when they commit to working in an organized way with other students.

  • Make sure you get at least one A each semester. Getting even a single A will change how you think about yourself-and your prospects for future semesters. If you're at all close, in even one course, work really hard to do it. It'll change things forever.

For more tips like these, see the USA Today article, 15 Secrets of Getting Good Grades in College.

Need Help with Classwork?

TRIO is a Federal program to help low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities in college! TRIO on-campus services include, but aren't limited to: one-on-one academic, financial aid, career, and personal advising; peer coaching. leadership and professional development opportunities, and opportunities to engage in research and develop academic networks. For more information on TRIO visit their website. In CT, there are 16 on-campus TRIO programs including: