There is more than one way to make the most of your academic success. Here are some of them.
If one wishes to have perfect grades, and is determined to make the most of expensive college costs, it is not as difficult as it is often made out to be. Simply have almost no social life, don’t date, study every spare moment, and keep in constant, outgoing and friendly contact with your instructors and brightest classmates. Also, it would help to be very wealthy and completely independent of having to be distracted by maintaining a job, family or obligations of any other kind.
For the rest of us, who wish to have the best years of our lives be more than just study and rote learning, simply ease into the amount of attention investment you wish to make, and you will likely maintain a high quality experience as well as a high grade-point average. Here are some pointers to make the most of your academic experience. Find grants and scholarships well ahead of time and apply for them. Work part-time, rather than full-time if possible, so you can keep your focus on learning.
Take time to really think about which courses and when to take them. Talk to others who have been through the same university experience. Others who have gone through a major or minor program will have much to tell you. Also, talk to advisors and really ask many questions. Talk to instructors if possible. Get a required reading list ahead of time, and really think about how and why now is the optimum time for any particular course.
Schedules and housing should be factored into your coursework. Living on campus means more convenience, but having a roommate off-campus, but close by, may give you more privacy and freedom. Your schedule must factor in enough time to logistically make the most of locations, times and calendar constraints. Take time to map out the campus and your daily commute between buildings. There are also parking and traffic considerations to keep in mind.
School supplies are important, none more so than your textbooks. Look into obtaining those books from not just the university library or bookstore, but any book outlet, public library, or even Internet bookstores. Also, remember, someone else likely bought the texts before, and most colleges have a site or public notice board where you can find lots of material about a particular course. Buying books from those who have already taken the course may even have the added benefit of having passages already highlighted within the text, saving you the trouble of searching for the most pertinent material the course covers.
The company you keep will make or break your college career. If you live with the most drunken party house known, you will either fall under their influence, or will find it to be a constant distraction. Neither is a good place to be, unless you wish to become a very mediocre student or C student and president, like George Dubya Bush.
Really put in the extra effort to be well-groomed, articulate, confident (at least on the outside), and truly curious. The more you display a love of learning, the better off you will be. Your enthusiasm and time taken to connect to others, especially instructors, will be an investment with ample returns. Never be afraid to ask questions, and even if you are afraid to answer questions, take a stab at it anyway to display your interest. Always ask for any tips for improving your chances of A’s, and about extra work you may do.
Finally, realize that all learning is ultimately a gift of human nature and an attempt to find out about the wider nature of the cosmos. Tune into that cosmos whenever possible. If you are interested in geology, get out and see rocks and mountains. If you are an English major, note that all literature is essentially an attempt to express alienation, and/or connection and belonging to a larger world. If you are a biologist or economics major, learn how nature is the ultimate teacher of life and economy.
Enjoy the gifts of human and outer nature, and you will go far in learning and enthusiasm toward a life built around appreciation and continual growth.