Tuesday, September 20, 2011

5 Tips to Graduating in the Top 5% of your College Class!

College Students: Five Simple Ways to Graduate in the Top 5% of Your Class

So, you’ve been accepted into a great college and you are ready to embark on a new and exciting phase of your life. If you are a freshman, your mind is likely spinning with thoughts of dorm-life, balancing your social life with your education, and which classes to take. It’s an exciting time, and the possibilities are endless! If you are entering your sophomore year in college, your nerves have probably calmed down from this time last year, and you know what to expect. A common denominator amongst all grade levels is this: why are you really here and how can you make the very best of it?

You are here for all of it: the education, the friendships, the extracurricular activities, and the training for your adult life. Now, I want you to picture something; graduation day. It may seem far off, but in reality, it will be here before you know it. Imagine yourself in that cap and gown, your family is sitting in the crowd, and the College Provost announces your name as you cross the podium to receive your diploma. In this single moment, all of your hard work and perseverance is tangible and has paid off. What could be better than that? It may sound silly, but now imagine yourself wearing the tassels that indicate that you’ve graduated in the top of your class; and instead of simply hearing your name called along with the other hundreds of students they announce that you have graduated with University Honors and Magna Cum Laude Honors. What an amazing feeling! Believe me when I tell you, it is completely and utterly attainable!

I urge you to strive for this goal, and I will give you five tips that will help you accomplish this feat. Not only will it give you an incredible sense of accomplishment that you will carry with you throughout your life, but it will also help you tremendously as you begin looking for a career, applying for jobs, and if you are considering Graduate School. These Honors carry more weight than you can imagine.

Tip #1: BE PRESENT. Attend class each and every day. There will be days when you are too sick to get out of bed, or you have an appointment you cannot miss; so reserve your excused absences for these occasions, rather than skipping class to sleep in or for a lunch date. Sit near the front. Your professor will recognize your face, and if you sit near the front of the class you will be less likely to daze off, doodle, or check your Facebook account on your laptop. Actively listen to the lecture and participate in discussions. Your professor is not there to hear their own voice- they are truly there because they want to teach you something; and hey, you are paying big bucks to be there…get your money’s worth! All of these actions will get you noticed by your professors and T.A.’s, and when it comes time for them to grade you and write evaluations, they will absolutely remember that you were an active participant in class. Being present could mean the difference between a C and an A.

Tip #2: ATTEND OFFICE HOURS. In addition to attending lecture and sections, your professors will have weekly office hours. As they will tell you, it is rare that students utilize this time. They set aside these hours so that you can come ask questions, discuss materials and ideas, and get input on future assignments. Your professors will not proofread your papers for you, but if you attend office hours and talk to them about your assignment, they will certainly tell you if you are headed in the right direction or not. Even if you don’t nail your assignment, they will remember that you made the effort by coming to office hours. And once again, come grading time, this will most definitely be something they remember and will take account of in your grade. This is a skill set that you will utilize throughout your life, and will prepare you for those quarterly meetings with your boss and/or your employees.

Your advisor is there to help you and will see things that the untrained eye (yours) will not. She or he can tell you if you are on the right track, have missed an important required course, and may even suggest classes that will complete more than one requirement. Your advisor is your advocate and they want nothing more than for you to succeed. Students that utilize their college advisors have a much higher rate of success; either graduating within four years, and sometimes even sooner.

Tip #4: MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY. As you begin attending lectures you will immediately discover that you have tons of work to do in a short period of time. How will you get those three books read, two papers written, attend all of your classes, and make it to office hours this week without stressing yourself out completely? Without question, you are going to need to manage your time. Get a planner. Figure out exactly when you need to be reading, writing, attending a study group, eating, sleeping, etc. You should have each day mapped out by the hour. It may sound tedious, but I promise you, if you abide by this very simple plan, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve completed your work on time and to the best of your ability. You will never have to walk into class and realize you’ve forgotten there was a paper due that day, or that you missed an important quiz. Prioritizing your work and time will make you an excellent student and will set you apart from the rest of your peers.

Tip #5: NEVER FORGET: YOUR EDUCATION IS A GIFT. It doesn’t matter whether someone is paying your tuition for you, or you are financing college on your own; your education is a gift that no one can ever take away from you. The old adage, “Knowledge is Power,” is absolutely true. Not only will it give you irreplaceable self-confidence that you can carry with you throughout your life, but it will improve your quality of life as well. Your education will assist you in finding a career you enjoy going to each day. College graduates earn a minimum of 50% more in salary than non-college graduates, and that is a low estimate. A college education is a gift that never stops giving.

If you have taken the time to read this article, I am certain that you are capable of graduating in the top 5% of your class. These five tips, when followed, will ensure your success in your college career. Challenge yourself. Have confidence in your abilities. Set goals and make them happen. Doing well in college comes down to the strength of your drive and motivation.

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