A graduate in a blue gown smiling in front of a building: How to succeed in college

How to Succeed in College

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If you are getting overwhelmed by college life, here is how to succeed in college. You need to attend classes, make up for missed classes, find reliable study partners, work part-time, get a tutor, and invest in your social life.

Here is what you should know.

Joining college is one thing while graduating is another. College life can be overwhelming because striking that balance in your academics and social life is not as easy as you might think.

Additionally, college is not all about being book smart. It molds all aspects of your life, and you must be willing to take up the challenge.

You might feel like giving up when you think of exams and grades and juggling between campus activities.

Fortunately, you can enjoy your college life and leave a successful student. If you do not know how to do it, here is how to succeed in college.

Attend All Your Classes

The main reason that people attend college is to advance their knowledge. Therefore, you need to go to all the classes scheduled. It can be tempting to miss class because there is no strict supervision in universities.

However, it would be best if you were focused and studied hard. Some lecturers require that you fill attendance sheets, and your overall class attendance contributes to your overall grade.

Also, you get to understand concepts better when you interact with your tutor. If you attend your classes diligently, you are likely to stay on top of your campus life.

Follow Up When You Miss Class

It is inevitable to miss classes at times. However, it would be best if you did not make this a habit.

Perhaps, you might have personal or even professional reasons for making you miss class. If you do, it is vital to inform your professor of your absence.

Additionally, get lecture notes from the tutor or fellow students. You can also arrange a study session with your classmates to go over what was taught.

Create A Schedule

It is critical to schedule your activities so that you do not fail in some areas. Proper time management helps you allocate sufficient time to all your activities.

You will know when and what to read, attend clubs, and even rest. You will have no time for procrastination, which leads to unnecessary anxiety and stress.

Most students struggle because they do things in the last-minute rush. A good schedule helps you to prepare in advance. Hence, you avoid getting overwhelmed when the deadlines for your activities are near.

Most importantly,

A schedule keeps you in control of your activities to enjoy a holistic and successful college experience. However, you need to be disciplined and stick to the program.

Have A Study Partner Or Join A Study Group

Studying alone can be tedious, especially if the subject of study is difficult. Therefore, you need a study partner to make the process fun.

Discussing topics with others also helps you grasp concepts better as you share ideas. Similarly, your partner can correct you and explain some concepts better.

You can also join a study group. Joining study groups helps learners to understand various concepts and eliminate misconceptions that you might develop when studying alone.

They are more enjoyable, and you also get to make friends in the process.

However, you need to choose your study partners carefully. You should identify serious students with similar study goals and work with them.

It would not be practical to have a group of friends that you spend most of the time chatting with rather than studying.

Also, you might need to change your study buddies as your courses advance. Hence, be flexible and always lookout for the best academic partners.

Get A Tutor If You Must

At times, attending classes and joining study groups might not be enough to improve your grades. When you reach this point, do not give up. You can always reach out to a college tutor for help.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about because your goal is to succeed. You can contact on-campus tutors or contact online tutors. The one-on-one interaction will help you understand concepts better.

Besides, tutors are well-trained, and they will use the right methods to teach you.

You can also arrange appointments with your lecturers during office hours. You can ask for clarification on any course-related matters, and the lecturers will be there to help. That will result in improved grades.

Invest In Your Social Life

Apart from studying, learners also need to thrive in their social lives. It is essential to take a break from studies and participate in social activities. Most campuses have a variety of opportunities to engage learners outside the classroom.

Participate In Sports

If you love sports, you can join the athletics team. Exercise builds endorphins in the body that help eliminate stress. Find a game that you like or that you have a talent for.

Most schools offer competitive sports such as volleyball, basketball, and soccer. These sports also provide opportunities for students as they can earn scholarships from playing. There are other intramural sports such as softball as well.

You can also find time to exercise even if you do not play for the school team. You can never miss a gym or a workout area in any college because working out results in both physical and mental fitness, which students need.

Join Fraternities And Sororities Or Clubs

Joining a fraternity or sorority is an excellent way for students to make friends and develop leadership. They organize dances, parties, talks, and provide abundant opportunities for building leadership.

Also, they help you prepare for life after college. Some former students become friends after college, and they help you form networks in various industries.

There are also countless clubs in colleges, and you can join any depending on your hobbies. They include international clubs, chess clubs, book clubs, and many more.

Get A Part-time Job

Many students also drop out of college for lack of fees. Getting a part-time job or joining a work-study program is an excellent way to raise school fees and upkeep money. Working also helps students get ready for future employment.

Some Study Skill Tips

Studying is an essential skill if you want to know how to succeed in college. Learning study skills will help you in college and help you succeed in life. Besides, studying will increase your confidence and reduce anxiety when taking tests. You can also improve your ability to learn and retain knowledge through studying, which is essential as a college student.

Study skills are different abilities that students can develop to improve their learning capacity, and they are essential factors to help you know how to succeed in college. Some of these skills include reading, listening, visual imagery and are used differently in different locations, for example, in class, out of class, and when doing assignments as shown below:

In class

Not missing class

When you show up for class, it tells your professor that you take the course seriously because you’re making an effort. Besides, you’ll benefit from your professor’s experience and anticipate exam questions. On the other hand, when you skip class, your grades suffer intensely, and playing catch up becomes difficult.

Don’t be late for class

When you arrive late, you can disrupt the flow of the lecture and impede learning. Moreover, you’ll have to catch up on what other students were learning before you came in to understand the class.

Sit at the front of the class.

Research shows that students who sit in the first row have a definite advantage because they become more engaged and free from distractions. 

Interact with your classmates

Classmates can help you learn course materials more deeply and better understand a subject matter. Besides, you can get well-rounded insights from different classmates. 

Interact with your instructor

If you form a bond with a professor, you are more likely to access the informative and helpful guidance they are willing to offer. They can also see your full potential and can help you nurture it. Lastly, they make excellent references in letters of recommendation.

Read through your syllabus.

Ensure you read the course syllabus before starting the semester because you’ll get the information on how to contact the course instructor, learn the course’s objectives, and know significantly impact assignment deadlines, among others. It helps you plan out your whole semester.

Out of class

Create a study routine

This allows you to see how you spend your time and ensures that you set aside time out of class to complete assignments, review coursework, or study for tests. 

Find a good environment to study in

A positive study environment helps improve concentration, reduces anxiety, and frees you from interruptions. Therefore, ensure you study in a comfortable environment. 

Understand your distractions

For example, if your phone is your greatest distraction, you can switch it off before studying.

Ensure you have the necessary study materials

These are learning materials provided by the school or professor—for example, notes, video lessons, or exercise programs. Ensure you maximize their use during studying as they can help you recall your lessons.

Take breaks between studies.

Long study sessions are usually efficient. However, taking short breaks will keep you more energized and focused.

Prioritize most difficult subjects first.

You usually have the most energy and concentration when you begin studying, which will help you read complex subjects without fatigue setting in. It will also boost your attitude and confidence towards reading the other topics.

When doing assignments

Read over your assignments more than once

You will have a better chance of accurately understanding the assignment and answering correctly. 

Get clarification on your instructor’s expectations.

Ensure you know what the instructor expects from the assignment. If not, approach them about anything you don’t understand, as they would prefer to set it straight before you hand your paper in. 

Allocate plenty of time to do your assignments

This will allow you to research the assignment and understand it fully without feeling rushed. It will also give you time to take short breaks to re-energize.

Divide your assignment into sections

When you have a huge assignment, it helps break down the task into more manageable parts. This will help you avoid procrastination and reduce stress levels. 

Avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else’s words and portraying them as your own. Most colleges have a strict policy on plagiarism. Therefore, you can avoid plagiarism by citing your research sources, using quotes, providing your thoughts and ideas, and lastly, using plagiarism detection software before submitting your assignment. 

More habits

Taking advantage of campus resources

Most college students ignore the unique resources available on campus. These are limited to academic resources, career services, health and counseling, and athletic resources like gyms. These resources are helpful, especially if you want to know how to succeed in college. 

Seek to be involved in your college

Putting in the effort to be active in your college can significantly impact your college experience. For example, you can start or join a club, fraternity, sport, or do community service and volunteering, among others.

Some techniques for time management

Time management refers to managing time effectively to allocate the right time to the suitable activity. To know how to succeed in college, you have to practice effective time management. Besides poor time management, it can lead to poor quality work, missing deadlines, increasing stress levels, and lastly, it harms your student reputation. On the other hand, proper time management improves your school performance and helps you deliver work on time, preventing procrastination. 

Be ahead with your schoolwork.

School and studying complement each other. You must be willing to put in the extra time to be ahead. For example, use that extra hour to study or practice exams. You also have to work smarter, not harder. For instance, if you’re struggling with a class, look for a tutor.

Plan for your papers and exams

It is normal to feel nervous when taking exams, and the main factor to keep in mind is to give yourself plenty of time and feel comfortable. Ensure you’re aware of the exam dates, then create a list of everything you need to prepare for your exam properly. 

Find a balance between schoolwork and your social life.

Achieving a balance between academics and social life in college can be challenging because college is stimulating. However, you can balance by setting internal priorities and scheduling your time, resisting temptations by using short gaps of unstructured time wisely, among others. 

Create a schedule

A workable schedule makes the decisions for you hence desensitizing you to momentary distractions. It is important to remember that keeping to a schedule develops a habit that may take weeks of practice. 

Be flexible

Flexibility will allow you to respond and adjust as you move towards your goal. For example, with the ongoing pandemic, a flexible student should have adapted the online classes and is doing them with ease. 

Schedule leisure time

Leisure is a discerning necessity for students, and it plays a significant role. It is essential to use your leisure time positively, such as swimming or hiking, to reduce stress and improve your social life and physical health. 

Taking Tests

Taking tests is a sure way of how to succeed in college because they are the most common assessment tools. Some of the standard test exams are American College Test (ACT), Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), and Classic Learning Test (CLT), which admissions officers use to evaluate different applications. Test-taking skills are cognitive abilities to deal with any testing situation appropriately and know what to do during tests. These skills are vital because you will have an improved attitude toward tests, have lower test anxiety levels, and achieve better.

Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety that affects anyone and can lead to poor performance on tests. You can experience both physical and mental symptoms if you have test anxiety. Physical symptoms include excessive sweating, rapid heartbeat, headaches, lightheadedness, nausea, etc. On the other hand, mental symptoms include self-doubt, stress, fear, anger, etc.; in extreme cases, one may get a panic attack.

Dealing with test anxiety

As stated above, a little nervousness before or during a test is normal, and it can help focus your attention. However, with test anxiety, self-doubt can interfere with your ability to take the test and later destroy your chances on how to succeed in college. Here’s how to deal with test anxiety:

Before the test

Get enough sleep because cramming and pulling an all-nighter can aggravate your nerves. Also, ensure you eat a nutritious breakfast and pack snacks for ongoing energy. Taking alcohol and drugs is also discouraged because they cause anxiety disorders, making it difficult to concentrate during exams. Lastly, ensure you know what the test entails. For instance, is it a multiple-choice test, or how long will it take?

During the test

Ensure you get to class early because feeling rushed will build up your anxiety. Pack everything you need for the exam the night before and set the alarm. Next, Focus on calm breathing and relaxation thoughts to increase concentration and slow down a racing mind. Also, ensure you prioritize easy questions first because it helps you maximize your scoring potential and boosts your confidence. Lastly, ensure you allocate time for different questions. For instance, you can spend less time on easy questions.


Through this article, you have learned how to succeed in college. It is as simple as investing in your social life, working part-time, and studying as hard as you need to.  With these tips, you should be well on your way to a successful college experience.

How can you be successful in college?

In order for you to be successful in college, you need to develop a plan, identify your goals, prepare well for your exams, manage your time and create your own free time.

How can I succeed in college without really trying?

It is really simple, ensure you don’t skip classes, go to bed early, meet with your professors and stay healthy.

What are the most stressful colleges?

According to research, JMU, Cornell, and NC are the most stressful colleges

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