1. Be Curious
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The amount we know about our world is increasing exponentially, but it seems like the more we learn the more we realize we don’t know. So as long as you are alive, learn as much as you can. Question everything, seek knowledge, and explore your world.
I was not a great student until I stopped caring about grades and started caring about learning. Then, interestingly, I started getting A’s. Be curious! Wonder about the things they tell you in class. Think about what that means about the world you live in, and your own life. Ask questions. Knowledge doesn’t come out of books, it is written down in them, so read your textbooks, learn what they have to teach you, and then start creating your own knowledge.
2. Fight for the Front Row
Think of everything you are giving up to be a student: your job, family, time, money, etc. You are sacrificing to be able to walk through the door of the classroom, so don’t waste a moment of the time you have there!
- Sit in the front of the class.
- Ask questions when you don’t understand. (Don’t worry about looking dumb; it is far more foolish to try to hide ignorance than to work to overcome it.)
- Go to your professor’s office hours.
- Do the extra credit assignments.
This is your chance. Carpe diem! (Seize the day)
3. Know Thyself
If you are having a hard time understanding material in a class, don’t chalk it up to being dumb. It is more likely that the way the information is being presented isn’t the way you learn best. You may best remember and understand material when it is spoken to or written down for you, drawn for you, demonstrated to you, when you apply it to doing something, when its in a song, through numbers, or in some other way. These are all part of intelligence types (article on this to come). Find out what your learning style is, and use that knowledge to help yourself understand and remember concepts from class. For a free assessment you can visit literacyworks.org. Know what your work style is. Are you most alert at night or in the morning? Do you focus best when you have complete quiet and solitude, like a library, or do you need some background noise, like in a coffee shop? Set aside time to study when you are most alert and go to a place that will help you focus.
Know what kind of teacher you prefer. Do you learn best from someone who will challenge you and hold your nose to the grindstone, or someone who is more kind and personable? A great teacher is the single most influential factor in how much you will learn, so know what teaching style works for you and find great teachers. Ask students about the professors they have taken, and you can also read reviews at websites like ratemyprofessor.org.
4. Take Care of You
According to the National Sleep Foundation everyone needs a different amount of sleep, but most adults need between seven and eight hours every night. You also need healthy food and exercise to be at your best. Your body is the only thing you will have for your entire life, so take care of it! Sleep well, eat well, exercise, and thank me when you’re 80.
5. Stay Organized
When you get your syllabus on the first day of class with a list of the assignments, put every assignment into your calendar on your smart phone (or your planner, if you’re old fashioned). If you need to, set alarms for a few days or a week before the assignment is due, so that you never miss an assignment because you forgot about it.
Keep everything until final grades are in. You don’t want to lose credit for an assignment because your teacher lost it or wrote down the grade incorrectly (I’ve seen it happen).
Be prepared for class. Don’t be that person asking around for a pen. They always forget to give it back, anyway.
6. Set Aside Enough Time
Being a student means more than just going to class. Professors and counselors will tell you to plan on spending three hours outside of class for every hour in class. I think that is an overestimation for most classes, but do plan on spending at least as much studying outside of class as you do in the classroom. Set aside that time in your schedule and make it a priority.
7. Join The Olympus Project
We are here to help you. Read our articles, and if you have questions, ask us either by commenting or sending us a message. You can also apply to our (free) mentorship program and be matched to a successful graduate of the California Community College system to help you succeed. It’s simple, we believe in you!
This article was created for you by Kate.