Top 3 Tips for Acing College

Published: November 21, 2013


College is that exciting time in a person's life where they experience freedom, independence, and most important the opportunity to build a career. However, college life is also fraught with many pitfalls that can have a significant impact on a person's ability to graduate. I'll cover the 3 best tips that I know that will best maximize a person's ability to not only graduate, but excel in college.

  1. Do not use the curve as a crutch

    Many university classes, especially those with professors that also teach graduate level coursework, have brutal midterm and final examinations. As a result, many professors will normally distribute test scores with the median score being the lowest B- or the highest C+. It is an easy and extremely dangerous pitfall for students to use the curve as an excuse not to give their best effort. Among many of the excuses I hear range from "This professor gives unfair and difficult test questions" to "C's get degrees." While many of these complaints can be true, you should always give a class your best effort.

    Understand that potential employers are not looking for students that gave "just the right amount of effort." In lieu of actual work experience, a student that consistently demonstrates effort beyond the average classmate is a far more attractive candidate.

  2. Use all of your academic resources

    Classes, especially those in public universities, will have both lectures and discussions. Discussions are generally led by teaching assistants or TAs that have a competitive academic record and are usually graduate students. Professors and teaching assistants are also usually required to hold office hours outside of class as well.

    I highly recommend all students to avail themselves of all resources available in order to best succeed in their classes. Whether it is finding outside help via tutoring or using office hours to your advantage, find what resources are available and use them. Never skip class except in the event of an emergency.

  3. Make a schedule, and follow it

    The best college students are those that best know how to manage their time. In an increasingly competitive academic and workforce environment, employers are looking not only for academically successful students but also students that have internships, are involved, and a busy resume. In light of all this, make sure that you are spending all of your time wisely and staying ahead of your coursework. Keep a strict schedule and follow it. I highly recommend practicing good sleeping habits as well because you may be required to wake up early in the morning, whether you are going to an 8 AM class or fulfilling a morning obligation. The "all-nighter" should never be in your lexicon. Stay ahead of your work in times when everyone else seems to be slacking off. Don't overschedule yourself and fulfill all of your obligations with tact and aplomb.

Success in college is an important stepping stone to building a successful career. Your best work can translate into a fulfilling job that you enjoy. I highly recommend that every college student follow these tips. I believe the most important tip on this list is making a schedule and following it. Stick to your obligations, but also know when you are overbooked.