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How to Have a Successful College Life

by Sally Miles, studioD

College can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a person’s life. It is a time of intellectual and personal growth, and it can be very intense. While the initial period of adjustment to college life can be unsettling, students who make wise choices and follow these simple guidelines will maximize their college successes and minimize the stresses of student life.

Attend Class

Participating in class discussion enriches the college experience.

You must attend class regularly to reap the academic benefits of your education. The lessons learned from live lectures, discussions, presentations and experiments cannot be duplicated by copying a classmate's notes or reading your textbooks alone. It is tempting to skip class, especially if a professor allows a certain number of absences or tardies without penalty. Avoid the temptation to skip unless you are truly unable to attend.

Get to Know Your Professors

Your professor is not only a source of information and guidance, but also a professional contact and someone you may turn to for a recommendation later. “I can't emphasize this enough: introduce yourself to your professors and go to their office hours. We really like it when someone is interested in our classes,” says Stephanie Sarkis, PhD., author and assistant professor in Counselor Education at Florida Atlantic University. Meet with your professors at the beginning of the semester; you may connect with one and find yourself a mentor for your college career and beyond.

Manage Your Time Wisely

Keeping track of due dates eliminates the need to rush at the last minute.

Review syllabi as soon as you receive them to get an idea of how much time you will need to allocate for each class. Record due dates in a paper or electronic planner, and review these dates periodically so your assignments are completed on time. Maintain a fairly consistent sleep schedule; even if your classes do not start until late morning, rise early and do studying, laundry or exercise. If you are a working student, make sure your courseload and workload are manageable.

Take Advantage of Your School's Resources

College campuses overflow with resources for their students. Recreational facilities provide exercise equipment and classes, swimming pools and special events such as hiking trips and Zumbathons. Many colleges offer tutoring and counseling services free of charge to students. Religious organizations exist on campus as well. Follow your Campus Life Association on Facebook or check out its website to stay informed of programs and events that can enrich your college experience.

Allow Time for Fun

While academics take priority, balance is important. Don't forget to have some fun, too. Cultivate new friendships; college provides opportunities for interaction with a hugely diverse group of people. Attend a party or sporting event. Consider a Greek organization. Author Harlan Cohen says, "get involved, join something and meet as many new people as possible." When your schedule allows, take an elective class simply to fulfill a passion or because a topic seems interesting.

About the Author

Based in the Southeast, Sally Miles has been a freelance writer and editor for nearly a decade. She has written for "For Me" magazine and holds a master's degree in English from Columbia University.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images