The Recondite of Helpful Tips to Follow as a College Student to Become Successful

By Alexandra Blockton

The Thinking Student’s Guide to College By Andrew Roberts


Here is a list of advice tips for college students to succeed while attending college course classes. These tips are solely listed from “The Thinking Student’s Guide to College,” by Andrew Roberts, which is an excellent read that informs you of the overall life of being a college student as well as helpful tips on being successful during your time of studies. I highly encourage you all  to read this book because you’ll find it is very beneficial for you to change your perspective on how you present yourself as a college student in many helpful ways. 

1)  I think you will,  Get an Equivalent Classroom Education at Most Reasonably Selective Colleges and Universities: Professors do not earn large rewards-promotions or raises-for great classroom performance and so do not always give it their all. In fact, faculty at higher-ranked universities are under less pressure to teach well simply because they are under greater pressure to do research. 

2) The Key Distinction is between Small Colleges and Large Universities: From the point of view of teaching, the key difference between colleges is whether they are large research-oriented universities or small teaching-oriented colleges. In both kinds, you can get a great education. However, the accessibility and style of education differ. Whether you choose one or the other depends on the type of person you are. Some types will thrive at large research universities; others will do better at small colleges.


3) The Main Importance of Reputation Is the Student Body It Attracts: Several studies have looked at the effects of one’s freshman year roommate. Since roommates are assigned randomly, the process resembles a lab experiment; you can compare students who got good and bad roommates. These studies have found that students of middling achievement (measured by SAT scores) did worse academically when they roomed with low-achieving students and better with high-achieving students. (High and low achieving students, however, were mostly unaffected by their environment.)


4) Consider Visiting Multiple Classes during the First Week of the Semester: You should view these rules as a loophole that allows you to make better choices. What I would recommend is the following. During the first week of classes, go to between five and ten different classes. Try a different class at every time slot. (Of course, beware of classes that require you to attend the first session.) While this may keep you running around for that week, it will not be too bad because professors generally do not teach very intensively at the start of the term precisely because students are switching in and out of classes. And it will yield a number of dividends. 


5) Trust Your First Impressions: One first impression that I sometimes consider is whether a professor uses innovative teaching methods, that is, something besides the standard lecture or discussion format. 


6) Take Classes with Heavy Writing Requirements: While college is not primarily a place to learn practical skills, there is at least one skill that you need to pick up as a part of your education. That is the skill to write quickly and well.


7) Learn to Be a Critical Reader of Student Evaluations of Faculty: In the first place, they are reliable; students tend to agree with each other on which classes are good and even 10 years later still rate the same classes highly. They also appear to be correlated with performance; students perform better in classes they rate highly. In one study, two professors taught the same class and gave identical exams; students taught by the professor with higher evaluations performed better on the exam. For these reasons, you should take these evaluations seriously. 


8) Don’t Try to Get All of Your General Education Requirements Out of the Way in Freshman and Sophomore Year: The benefit of postponing some distribution requirements is not only that you can better determine what you really care about early in your college career and devote more attention to that subject. It is also that as a junior or senior you can pick required courses that better complement your studies.


9) Don’t Take Too Many Classes with One Professor: It is important to sample as much wisdom as you can at university, so it is a good idea to try a variety of professors. Of course, if one seems to you an unending font of wisdom, by all means, help yourself to another cup. 


10) Don’t Be Afraid to Exceed Requirements: There is no reason why you should merely fulfill requirements. Feel free to go beyond the official requirements–take extra courses in your major or over fulfill distribution requirements.


11) Either Take Foreign Language Classes Seriously or Try to Place Out of Them: Many universities have a foreign language requirement, usually one or two years of a particular language. The problem with these requirements is that they are neither here nor there. Unless you have good prior training, you do not learn enough of a language to use it with the facility, but the requirement is burdensome enough that it does detract from your education. 


12) Sample a Lot of Different Departments: American universities assume that students arrive with little idea about the broad range of human knowledge that can be studied. Fields like astronomy, linguistics, philosophy, art history, foreign literature, statistics, sociology, economics and African American studies, to name just a few, are among those rarely taught in any depth in high schools. Even those that are taught regularly—history, English, biology, chemistry, physics and math— look far different at the university level.


13) Choose a Major That You Love: This is not to say that you must love every course you take in your major, but you should at least feel fascinated by the questions they are asking. This or that professor may disappoint you, but you should always find solace in the material you are studying. Doing what you love is the best route to becoming an academic star. 


14) Write a Senior Thesis: Most colleges and universities allow and in some cases  require students to write a senior or honor thesis. A senior thesis is a year-long research paper where a student comes up with a substantive research question, gathers evidence, constructs an argument and writes up his or her conclusions in a long-ish paper. 


15) Show Professors That You Are Working Hard: How do you do this? By attending class, by completing your assignments on time, by participating in class discussions and by showing up at your professor’s office hours. 

16) Learn the Rules of Critical Thinking and Apply Them Constantly: Professors ultimately want you to create your own good arguments, but it is often easier to start with existing arguments and find out how they work or do not work. Most of your assignments in college do just this. Whenever you are asked to agree or disagree with an author’s position or to compare and contrast the positions of two authors, you are taking a part in an argument or multiple arguments.


17) Send Emails Judiciously, Answer Emails Promptly:   It used to be that to contact professors, you had to catch them in their offices or risk disturbing them by telephone. With the advent of e-mail, this is no longer the case. Sending an e-mail is a simple and seemingly unobtrusive way of communicating with a professor. After all, professors are free to answer at their leisure; you are not interrupting their work or their dinner. 


18) Avoid Complaints about Grades: The main problem with complaints about grades is that they immediately signal to us that you are less interested in the subject of the course than in your grade. You show that you are a person who is not interested in genuinely learning but in credentials and symbols. You mark yourself as a grade grubber—yes, we use this term too—rather than a scholar. 


19) Attend a Public Lecture Every Week: Most universities hold multiple lecture series either in conjunction with particular academic departments or simply for the community at large. Add to this large number of outside speakers invited by different student groups and talks by professors auditioning for jobs and you have what is virtually a whole other university ripe for the picking. Instead of being limited to the professors on your campus, you can listen to academics and public figures from all over the country. 


20) Make Friends with People Who Have Different Beliefs and Experiences: Much of the learning you do at university comes from encounters with other students outside of the classroom. For these encounters to be effective learning experiences, you need to interact with people who share your opinions and experiences. When you get together with people who share your opinions, it tends not only to confirm your existing prejudices (called groupthink), but also to make them more extreme (called group polarization). To avoid these traps you need to constantly expose yourself to alternative views.


About Alexandra Blockton

Alexandra is pursuing an Associate Degree in general studies as a Transfer Student. After Fall 2023, she will transfer to a 4-year university to major in Psychology.
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