There is no clear-cut definition of academic success because success can be defined in several ways. Succeeding academically doesn't necessarily mean one has to get A’s in all classes or pass every exam. Succeeding can mean meeting goals you set for yourself, or even simply making progress. Academic success to us is truly learning for the sake of learning not rote memorization, and in university, you’ll discover that is what most professors care about.
Even as a second-year student at University, there are still so many challenges I face on a day-to-day basis, from deciding which classes should be prioritized to knowing when I need a tutor. Throughout your time in Uni, learning to discover what works best for you is an ever-continuing journey so here are a few tips to help you along the way to ensure academic success.
1. Use a Planner
Whether you are a first-year student or in your last semester, it is always important to have a planner or use an online calendar to organize your schedule. With classes, extra-curricular events, appointments and so much more, each day can be clearer when you have the day organized and planned out. This can be especially helpful when determining how to build your schedule as well as remaining updated on assignments.
2. Stay Engaged
Personally, there are times when I am sitting in a lecture hall with more than 100 students and while the professor seems to be going on and on, I am zoning out. And usually, those are the days when the lesson was really important. Especially for all of you STEM majors out there, always try to be engaged with the lesson. Take notes in your notebook or MacBook or record the lecture and go back to it later. Though that e-mail or text might seem important, you can always wait till the end of class.
3. Uncover your learning style
Find what helps you learn by using a variety of study methods. Use flashcards read textbooks, write notes, draw, and join study groups. Find someone in class who might be struggling and try to explain a specific idea to them, as the saying goes ‘the best way to learn is to teach’. Find the best way to learn for each class and try to be consistent with those ways of learning.
When struggling academically there are a variety of resources that should be offered by your university to accommodate your needs.
There are many tutoring options, such as upperclassmen, students who have taken the class before, friends who know more about the topic, or student tutors employed by the University. Having someone guide you through assignments can be a great way to get to know other students as well. Remember that university is not like high school. If you are struggling academically, it is up to you to seek help. Often a professor or tutor is not going to reach out to you especially if they do not realize you are experiencing challenges. So whenever you need help, reach out to your professors, colleagues, and advisors. They can guide you in the right direction.
5. Office Hours
I know they might seem intimidating or unapproachable but Professors are there to help students succeed. If you don't understand an assignment or concept, other students probably don't either. Find some students to go with you to talk with the professor about where you find challenges. And even if you are not experiencing challenges, getting to know your professors and TAs are great ways to learn more about a major or particular field, get a recommendation letter, or even possibly an internship or fellowship!
6. Academic advisors
There are times when a class might not be the perfect fit for you, and that's okay. It is always a good idea to speak to your advisor if you feel the workload is too much and you need to drop a class.
7. Never stop discovering
People often say that it's easier to discover what you don't want to pursue than what you do. While I can’t confirm if this is true, I agree that learning both is important. If possible, take as many classes as possible so that you can find what you are truly interested in. Explore your interests, and consider internships in the field so you can learn what it's like to have that job.
8. Take care of yourself and have fun
Don’t forget to rest and recuperate, burn-out is real and oftentimes occurs after continuing to work on assignment after assignment or studying for hours. Remember to take time for yourself, read a book, draw, paint, sing, hang out with friends or walk around campus to get fresh air and sunlight! Try something new, join the chess club, take cooking lessons or learn a new language!
From everyone here at EBV, we are wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hannukkah, and Happy New Year!