To succeed in college part 2

A first-year student asked: “What do I need to succeed in college? I want to be one of the best students. Please advise.

Answer: To succeed in college, you need to attend all classes, NEVER skip class. When in class, turn off your mobile phone and do not let anything distract you from the study. (No text messages or facebook) Listening carefully to what the professor teach and ask questions if you do not understand. Do not afraid to ask questions; most professors prefer students who ask and participate in class discussion. If you still have a problem understanding, make an appointment to go to see the Professor during office hours.

Read material BEFORE going to class, so you know what the professor is teaching on that day. Learning must begin with this reading to build a basic knowledge, and continue in class. By doing this, you can verify what you know, and what you do not understand. Learning should happen on the same day the lecture is given, not later or before the exam. This will help you to stay current with the class, and avoid the problem of trying to catch up.

For every hour in class, you need at least two hours of studying on your own. You may find a study group with others who have similar educational goals and develop a fixed schedule to meet to study together. However, You must do your reading assignments and homework. DO NOT copy anything from a friend (i.e., that is cheating, and the fact is you are cheating yourself) If you could not complete a homework in time, Ask the professor for an extension even at a reducing grade. You are going to college to learn, and you are responsible for your education.

Before an exam, you must practice some applications based on what you have learned. You will understand the materials better if you practice by asking: “What questions the professor may ask? What problems should I solve? How do I apply this theory to that problem?. Stay calm before exams. DO NOT cram at the last minutes. The best way to do well during an exam is to stay calm before and during the exam. If you study, you should not worry.

There are so many things to do in college, but you must set your priority. Something can wait, but study cannot. Focusing on learning should be the top priority. Stay focus on one work at a time and do not let anything distract you from studying. You can be more productive than doing several things at the same time. Turn off your phone, and do not open your facebook just to see whether someone post something. It will distract you from your studying. DO NOT have any excuses for not learning.

Do not compare yourself with others. There will always be someone better but also someone lesser. Focus on your study because only you are responsible for your learning. Being the best student DOES NOT mean being the top of the class or have the best grade in the class, but being yourself, knowing what you have learned and achieve your educational goal. Grades and even a degree is only a milestone in your educational journey. The ultimate destination is your knowledge and skills, what you know and how you learn them in school because they will stay with you for the rest of your life.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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