College Tips how to Plan for Academic Success

You’ve been counting down the days until you are finally off on your own at college.  Although college is a time of exploration and growth (a.k.a., the best time of your life), it is also a time of expense and learning—the book kind.  Most people leave college with a C grade point average, having learned nothing that will really benefit them in the real world.  To not be one of these people, you should plan for academic success. 

Academic success does not mean studying 24-hours a day.  In fact, it means being aware of yourself and your goals.  Stick to the following tips on how to plan for academic success, and you will be well on your way to graduating on time with an above average GPA.

The Plan

First of all, you need to get a planner.  It doesn’t matter if it’s paper or electronic.  You can even use your email account if you know you will check it every day.  Just make sure it’s easily accessible and you can carry it with you at all times. Next, everyone is familiar with the partying atmosphere in college, so here’s the plan: decide which days are partying days and which days are studying days and stick to them as if your life depended on it. 

Write the words study and Party/free on each day so you know what you need to do.  If a friend calls on Tuesday and your planner clearly says Study for math test on it, then you should study for your math test.  Your friend will probably have another party next week, and it may even be on a Saturday.  Besides, if he were a real friend, he would have the party on a free day. 

At first, sticking to your plan may be difficult because you want to make friends and meet people.  But if you stick to your plan for a week or two, it will become easier.  Just remember that you can make friends at any time, but that test or that paper only has one due date.

Goals

Set short-term goals and long-term goals.  Short-term goals should be your weekly goals, and long-term goals should be your semesterly, quarterly or yearly goals.  At the beginning of each week, semester, quarter or year, write your goals down in your planner (If you have an electronic planner, you can set an alarm to remind yourself of your goals.  You can also set an alarm half-way through the week, semester, quarter or year to remind yourself that you have a goal to accomplish.).  Check off these goals as you finish them.  This gives you a visual of what you have accomplished.

The Reward System

Now that you know about the plan, here’s the fun stuff.  Everyone likes rewards, so in your plan for academic success, make sure to include a reward system.  When you have accomplished your weekly goals, reward yourself at the end of the week by going on a weekend trip or getting your nails done.  When you have accomplished long-term goals, give yourself even bigger rewards.  Finished your first semester successfully?  Give yourself a week off to do whatever you want.  Using the reward system faithfully will help you achieve academic success.

Great Minds Think Alike

Here’s how it is in college: if you hang out with partiers, you will most likely be a partier yourself; if you hang out with studiers, you will most likely be a studier.  The tip is: surround yourself with like-minded people.  If you want to party on the weekends and study like heck on the weekdays, find friends who want the same things.  That way, you won’t have to feel guilty when you don’t go to a friend’s party (as mentioned above, a friend shouldn’t plan a party on a day you’ve committed to studying anyway). 

Form a Team

Academic success in college depends immensely on how you study.  Although you can study by yourself as much or as little as you want, one of the best ways to study in college is to form a study group with classmates.  Why?  If you study with a group, you feel obligated to go to the group meetings, and you actually study instead of taking twenty breaks in-between your studying time to do anything else other than study. 

Study groups usually meet up at the library or somewhere quiet, which will take you away from an environment that can easily lead you astray.  Study groups also allow you and your group members to teach each other, and research shows that when you teach someone else, you understand the content better.  Plus, this a great way to meet people.  If there is no study group in your class, form one!  Ask if anyone is interested in studying together and send around a sign-up sheet to get their emails or phone numbers.

Beat the Test or Essay

Most college students start studying for their tests the night before.  Many write their essays an hour before it is due.  This is a formula for academic disaster.  Do this and you will be on your way to that C-average group who learned nothing in college. 

What you should do, instead, is start studying or writing an essay three or four days before it’s due.  Even two days before is better than one day.  This gives your brain time to process the content.  It doesn’t have to be intense studying.  Two days before the test, just read over the information once so it’s in your brain.  Save the day before the test for intense studying.  By that time, your brain will have already processed some of the material.  And if you are writing an essay, this gives you time to edit it and make it perfect.

Eat Healthy

Always remember that your brain needs energy in order to work the way it should.  Eat as healthy as possible.  Snack on an apple in the morning.  If you live close enough, walk to school instead of driving your car or taking the bus.  If you drive, park further away so you could walk to your class. 

Be Watchful

Lastly, while you are in school, always keep an eye on your degree progress.  Planning for academic success means knowing which classes you have completed and which classes you have yet to complete.  You can usually keep track of your degree progress yourself by going online or writing down everything on paper.  If you are having a hard time doing this, make sure you seek assistance at your advising office.  They are there to help you make an academic success plan.

College is what you make of it.  Use these tips on how to plan for academic success to help you start your plan.  Remember that one of the key ingredients to academic success is sticking to your studying schedules.  Do that and in four years, you will be a successful college graduate.