6 tips to be prepared for college classes

“Be prepared!” is a motto not just for Boy Scouts — or the hyenas in The Lion King. A new school year is upon us, so how will you be prepared for class?

To achieve student success, being prepared is an important step. (Credit: Laughmoreabundant)

To achieve student success, being prepared is an important step. (Credit: Laughmoreabundant)

From study tips to dorm life to student health, here are six tips for college students to be prepared for college life and achieve student success.

1. Buy a durable backpack or tote bag

You’ll be carrying a lot of stuff – books, binders, pens, paper, calculator, flash drive, phone, lunch. Invest in a sturdy backpack, tote bag, brief case or other type of carrying case. Get one with adjustable straps and many pockets so you can organize your workload. There are many shopping sites online where you can browse different styles and sizes.

2. Organize your dorm/living arrangements

Having a comfortable and safe place to live during your college life is important for your emotional health and academic achievement. Be prepared to have your dorm arrangements and roommate assignments ironed out, and unpack your belongings before classes start. Decorate your room to be cozy and homey. Set aside a place to study. Keep your living space clean.

3. Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep before class is vitally important. Lack of sleep slows down body activity, increases memory loss and confusion, and makes you susceptible to illness. Adequate sleep increases activity, improves emotional health, revitalizes the brain and helps you remember better. I suggest being prepared to sleep six to eight hours each night. And don’t be embarrassed to take naps during the day. Between school work, part-time jobs and a social life, college life is hectic. You’ll always need extra sleep.

Here are some of the “10 Tips for Better Sleep in College” by Diana Rodriguez in Everyday Health posted March 17, 2010:

• Avoid caffeine at night.

• Create a sleep schedule, and stick to it.

• Don’t study in bed.

• Sleep with earplugs and/or use an eye pillow.

• Exercise during the day, never just before bed.

4. Be prepared to study efficiently

Many people offer advice for good study habits, but are they backed up by science? Sometimes study tips are more urban legend than scientific fact, for example, having one quiet place, like a study room or the library, to do all your studying. “The research finds just the opposite,” wrote Benedict Carey in “Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits,” posted in New York Times, September 6, 2010.

“Psychologists have discovered that some of the most hallowed advice on study habits is flat wrong…. In one classic 1978 experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms—one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard—did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room.”

Dr. Robert A. Bjork, the senior author of the experiment, commented: “What we think is happening here is that, when the outside context is varied, the information is enriched, and this slows down forgetting.” Overall, study the best way that works for you.

5. Talk to the teacher

Don’t assume your professor is too busy or not interested in helping you. That’s what he/she is there for. And don’t be nervous or shy. Be polite, know in advance what you want to say, and ask for help—don’t demand it. Respect office hours. Before class starts, ask for a syllabus or reading list to get a head start on what the material will cover. During the course, be prepared to ask for extra help if you need it.

6. Know the grading criteria

In college, your grade will likely depend on just a couple of exams and/or papers, not the many tests, quizzes and papers used in high school. Ask the professor what the grading criteria will be. Noel Rozny writes in “College Tips: How to Prepare For College Classes,” posted November 1, 2011, in My Footpath: “Depending on what subject you’re studying (math versus English), for example, the grade for your class might consist only of your midterm and final exam, or three papers that you write over the course of the semester. In short, you won’t have the kind of grade wiggle room you had in high school. If you do poorly on one paper, it can affect your final grade in a major way.”

What are your best tips for being prepared for class?

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