How do you succeed in college? This is a question high school graduates ask all the time. The most common answer to this question is to develop good habits and practice them consistently. That answer sounds simple and achievable but equally ambiguous. What exactly are “good habits”? A habit could be good for one person and not so much to another! For most college students, paying attention to and copying what others do is the norm. Sometimes this strategy works, but it often leads to confusion and eventual failure. Have you seen or heard of students who behaved “well” their entire college life and still failed, while others did exemplarily well in spite of behaving “badly”? Charting your own path through college remains to be the only sure way to succeed. You need to be in control of your studies, habits, and mindset. Even though there aren’t any one-size-fits-all tips that can help you achieve your college goals, we guarantee that at least one of these five tips for success will work for you.
1. Choose the right courses
When choosing the course of study you’ll pursue in college, pick something you enjoy, but try to stretch your limits and go for something that challenges you too. Learning is primarily a challenging expedition—choosing a course that doesn’t keep you on your toes means you technically won’t be learning. Following your interests is a proven way of choosing the right course. If you’re curious about a given line of study, pursue it by all means. However, it’s important to keep your choices open in case you don’t land in your pool of curiosity. Many successful people found their passion accidentally by pursuing courses outside of their immediate interests. In the same vein, don’t stick to your line of interest for too long if all indications show that you’re headed in the wrong direction. If you’re confused about which path to pursue, get in touch your academic advisor, your school’s career center, or even a life coach so you can chart the way forward together. “A good life coach will help you get in touch with your interests, overcome your fears, and get clarity of vision on your pursuit of success,” according to experts at Animas Coaching.
2. Dare to be ambitious
Don’t limit your ambitions out of fear of the unknown. Be brave and let the world know of your existence. Dare to believe. Dare to imagine great things coming your way later in your career. For example, if your dream is to travel to further your studies or to find a job away from home, start working toward that dream from your first day in college. Pursue study abroad programs to start gaining the international experience you desire. Find internships that teach you the skills you need for an international career path. You can even go ahead and apply for a visa to be ready for an eventual career overseas.
3. Study with like-minded students
Studying alone can be boring at times. Make learning fun by studying with a buddy or joining a study group. Before you do that, it’s important to first go through the material on your own so you can have something meaningful to share with the group. Discussion helps you gain a new point of view, especially in the run-up to exams. Use peer review as a great way to learn new information. You could even share your knowledge of educational resources, studying materials, and scholarships offered by the university or outside providers and even tips on where to eat and shop off campus.
4. Ask your professors for guidance
Most colleges require professors to spare at least two hours of their weekly office time to attend to students’ concerns—aka office hours. If you feel confused in any given course, it’s best to consult your professor(s). Developing relationships with your professors is important to your success and happiness at your college or university. Who knows—they may even become a trusted mentor and advise you on things to pursue after college.
5. Grow up
Though you may always feel like a kid at heart, you’ll need to grow up from the high school kid you were before you get to college. That means “adulting” and doing things for yourself: Don’t wait for someone to hover over you or push you to get to class on time. Don’t wait for your parents to remind you to do your assignments or to come save you from bullies. Those things won’t happen in college. Growing up also means making an effort to attend as many classes as possible, even if attendance isn’t required and no one follows up with you. The more classes you miss over the course of a semester, the bigger the damage you’ll inflict on your grade and GPA. College is like a job—one that you’re paying to have—and showing up to that job will only increase your success while you’re on campus and beyond.
A big part of success is the right mindset! You have to be willing to make the effort and take the needed steps to achieve the successful life you want in the future. Developing positive habits and making intentional choices in college will set you on the path to the career you want. Keep up your grades, pursue unique academic opportunities, and get out there and wow people!
You can find more advice on reaching the successful life you want in our Internships and Careers section.