How to Be Successful in College (9 Helpful Tips)

If you’re like many first-year students in college, you probably aren’t sure what it takes to be a successful college student. You understand the difference between good grades and bad grades, but grades are just one aspect of college success.

There are several things you can keep in mind during your college experience that will guide you toward success, no matter how you personally define it.

Here’s how to be successful in college.

How to Be Successful in College

Going to college is exciting. There are so many new people to meet, events to attend, and adventures to be had. Whether you are a first-time college student or a returning student, you are wondering how you can be social, have fun, and still excel academically.

Believe it or not, this can be done. You can be successful in college. You cannot just wing-it, however. There are some specific steps, listed below, you can take to help you have the best college experience and reach your goal of graduating with a diploma.

Make Yourself Known

Making yourself known does not mean you need to be the loudest student around. It means connecting with the right people on campus, especially your professors. Make sure you introduce yourself to your professors and to other staff within a department.

Class participation is valued by professors. They take time to prepare lessons and they appreciate when students are interactive in class. Even if participation is not part of your overall grade, it can make a positive difference.

Get to know the student body leaders on campus. Tour campus resource staff like in the counseling center or the library. You don’t have to form relationships with them, just become familiar with them enough to reach out if ever needed.

Use Campus Resources

There are many campus resources that help students with specific challenges, including financial issues, substance abuse, and peer-to-peer counseling. If you are falling behind in a subject, don’t give up. Instead, get help from the student services department.

If you have a disability, you can work with the office of disabilities who can help you gain more time taking tests, better seating in class, and anything else to help you succeed.

Seek help from resources so that you can keep up with your academic requirements.

Keep Up with Your Work

Professors do not like it when you turn in your work late. They set deadlines for a reason. Your class is one of the many classes they are teaching.

Use your syllabus and follow the weekly plans and keep up with the readings assigned. The purpose of your syllabus is to give you an outline of what you will be expected to do throughout the semester. You can work ahead of schedule now that you know what is upcoming.

Your professors will recognize who turns in their work on time and who doesn’t.

Show Up

It is one thing to sign up for a class. But if you don’t show up and participate, you will not be as successful. It is important that you go to class. Many professors provide valuable information, that will be on a test, in class only.

If you are not there, you can not only miss important notes, but you may even miss opportunities to earn extra credit through quizzes and group work.

Know Your Boundaries

Your professors are the best resource to help you excel in a class. However, they are also people, with lives outside of the university.

You must know your boundaries when seeking help from your professor.

Abide by the office hours they give you. Do not send multiple emails with the same questions. Give them time to respond.

Professors will give you specific contact information. Use only this information, even if you know the professor personally.

Earn your good grades the old-fashioned way, by working hard. Do not try to utilize bribes and do not form any other relationship than that of professor to student. These are not only unethical; they can have you expelled.

Have Fun

Succeeding in college sounds very serious. It is. But there are also plenty of opportunities for fun. Colleges have departments devoted specifically to providing fun student activities on campus. Attend these events.

It’s true, many peers will want you to attend parties where everyone is getting drunk or high. This is not the kind of fun that will be meaningful to your success in college.

Join the groups on campus that are dedicated to having fun without the use of drugs and alcohol. There are even sober living and sober social groups looking for people who want to avoid the party life on campus. Your actions will inspire others.

Seek these resources and don’t go along with the crowd.

Don’t Be Easily Influenced

To be successful in college, it is very important you learn how to avoid being influenced by negative people who only want a partner in crime. There are many college peers who just want someone to drink or get high with them. They are not your true friends.

Seek positive influences, those who want to keep you safe while having fun.

Your self-esteem and confidence will help you say “no” when the time is right. Let your instincts guide you and feel proud when you turn down an invite to do something negative. Feel proud because you have done the right thing.

Prioritize Activities

Even though there are many sober activities you can attend for fun, you can’t go to every one of them. You will need to find a happy balance between fun and completing your academic assignments.

If you have a test on Friday, attending a party or campus event on Thursday evening may not be the best idea. Practice good time management and schedule all activities, including fun ones.

Remind yourself you are there for a college degree that will help you succeed in life. Therefore, you must succeed in your courses. Prioritizing can help you do this.

Ask for Help

One of the most important steps in reaching success in college is to ask for help. No one can do it all by themselves, all the time.

Asking for help shows strength. It shows you know your limits and that you can research and take advantage of resources available. These are all skills that will help you reach your goals both in college and in the “real world”.

Keep your eye on the goal and you will succeed.

Photo by Brooke Cagle