Tips for College Success

Goal Setting

College is an environment with increased responsibilities. Successful students understand the importance of planning, setting and achieving both short-term and long-term goals. The Learning Center Personnel can assist you with setting and achieving your goals in addition they can hold you accountable for reaching them.


Long Term Goals – think across the semester

  • Set your long-term goals first.
  • Long term goals must be individualized, specific, achievable and realistic.
  • Requires motivation, passion, consistency and resolve.   

Short Term Goals – think in terms days or weeks

  • Break down your long-term goals down into several smaller sequential goals.   
  • Serve as mini “check points” that you reach on the way to your long term goal.
  • Provides you with structure and stability.
  • Keeps you  accountable for achievement.
  • Serve as an organizational tool for your individual’s priorities

Study, don’t “study”

Though nobody quite tells you this, at college most of the work is done outside the classroom. Rule of thumb: one hour of lecture, two hours of preparation and study time outside of class. For example, a 3 hour class requires a minimum of 6 to 9 hours of focused work outside the class for both organization and studying.  

As soon as the semester starts, find yourself a quiet place to study and block out the times of the week you’re going to do the studying. Above all, don’t count study-related activities as actual studying: Copying over your notes, getting the e-readings, listening to the lecture again, and “getting acquainted” with your study group are all fine activities, but they don’t count as studying.


Reading is an important aspect of study time. Reading is essential for a life-long learner. Follow the simple steps below to retain what you read:

  • Set a purpose for the reading.
  • Read phrases and sentences, not individual words.
  • Visualize ideas as you read. Drawing your own diagrams and pictures facilitate reading comprehension.
  • Use a pacer (something to guide you down the page), if necessary.
  • Develop a large vocabulary by keeping a journal of the meaningful content words.

Increase YOUR Memory

Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising any other part of your body.  You have to practice for tests, quizzes, presentations and performances just like you practice running or exercising your body..  You must commit to the task in order to be successful.   We find a very helpful verse in the scriptures:  Commit everything you do to the LORD. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5 KJV

Make a planIf it is a large amount of information, break it into small sections and plan to memorize a small portion at a time.  Plan to review the information many times.  Repetition is the key!

Highlight –  Highlight your notes, make note cards or flashcards.  Have another person quiz you so you will have to repeat the information aloud.

Use your notes to quiz yourself – Change headings into questions.  If you took Cornell notes, cover one side of the page and quiz yourself, saying the answers allowed.

Use acronyms, acrostics, rhymes, jingles, etc.– The use of acronyms, acrostics, rhymes, jingles, etc. help you create memory clips that will stick in your mind, the stranger the better!

  • Acronym- using initial letters of facts and developing a word  ex. HOMES- a word that stands for the Great Lakes-Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior
  • Acrostics-using initial letter of facts and developing a sentence.  ex.  First five books of the Bible; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  God’s Everlasting Love Never Diminishes.
  • Rhyme or Jingle– add some type of musical beat to a factual phrase or series of thoughts. ex. Thirty days has September, April, June, and November…..

Time Management

As a college student, there are many things competing for your attention. In order to make the most out of your time, you should consider using these three tools to manage effectively your time:

Monthly Calendars

  • Many of you have smart phones – USE THEM
  • You have access to a google calendar via your gobbc email address – USE IT!
  • E-Class and Populi have built-in calendars – these are great tools!
  • You can use either a single calendar that includes all your classes, or create a separate calendar for each class. On the first day of class take each syllabus and record all assignments, quizzes, and tests on your calendar. If your class does not have a set syllabus, be sure to write down assignments as they are given.
  • This monthly calendar will serve as the basis for creating your weekly schedule.

A Weekly Schedule

  • Use the monthly calendar to create a weekly schedule.
  • Create blocks of time for devotions, classes, meals, work, play, and studying.
  • Try to have a study block of one to two hours each day and make sure you keep these important dates at the forefront of your mind.

A Daily To-Do List

  • Create a to-do list every day
  • Mark off items as you complete each item.
  • Carry-over items to the next day as necessary.


Test Anxiety

Test anxiety manifests itself emotionally, behaviorally, and physically. Lack of sleep impacts your attitude in a negative manner and will cause headaches. These are symptoms of negative behaviors that cause worry and increased anxiety. Fortunately, there are ways to manage it:

The Learning Center Tutors can assist you with study habits that result in positive patterns of behavior and increased test grades.

  • Pray and seek support from others.
  • Prepare effectively for your test using a variety of study methods.
  • Make a study schedule, allowing plenty of time to prepare.
  • Think positive thoughts and visualize yourself completing the test successfully.
  • Practice healthy sleeping and eating patterns.
  • Keep the test in perspective. Many elements go into calculating your final grade and a test is just one.
  • Relax and focus on your goals.
  • Use the support system of the LEARNING CENTER for accountability.

Test Preparation

For many, tests are a challenging part of the learning process. Test preparation is important and reduces stress and anxiety associated with the testing process.  Understanding how to effectively and efficiently prepare for tests will reap a lifetime of benefit for ALL learners.

Sleep is imperative prior to taking a test. Loss of sleep and cramming for a test the evening before the BIG day has a negative impact on your brain and memory.  Your brain needs the downtime of sleep to move information studied into the long term memory.

Before the exam, construct a pre-test (use questions from the study guide, from last year’s exam, or from hints the professor dropped in lecture) and take it under “test conditions” (write it out, under strict time limit, without looking at the book).

You may also want to try some of these tips:

  • Never be afraid to ask the simple questions:  When is the test? How much is it worth?  What content is being tested?  What is the format of the test?  
  • Establish a preparation schedule:  
    • Record all test dates for the course on a calendar
    • Start studying one to two hours a day, a week or two  before the test
    • Get a good night’s sleep and eat a meal before the test


  • AVOID “all-nighters”


  • Use active study strategies:
  • Review all highlighted text and notes
  • Take the time to answer the questions at the end of each chapter
  • Prepare index cards
  • Take practice tests
  • Participate in study groups
  • Review previous tests, if available to you.
  • GO TO THE LEARNING CENTER and find a tutor to assist you with all of the items listed above.

On TEST day!

  • Read each question thoroughly and completely.
  • Always answer exactly the question asked.
  • Write full answers that draw on all the course materials (lectures, readings, and discussions) and that would be clear to any intelligent reader.

More points are lost on tests and papers by not answering the question asked than by giving the wrong answer. Professors go to great lengths to craft appropriate questions (and sub-questions) and expect head-on answers to exactly what they asked—rather than general surveys.Responses that dump everything you know about the subject or rambling garbage often evoke missing all the points for the question. When you receive your test back, go over any comments your instructor has written and do the question again in your head, given the new information.

Online Etiquette: “Netiquette”

“Netiquette”  or net etiquette, refers to etiquette on the Internet. Good netiquette involves respecting others’ privacy and not doing anything online that will annoy or frustrate other people. Three areas where good netiquette is highly stressed are e-mail, online chat, and newsgroups.

In a world of changing technology the student/teacher relationship has also been changed.  No longer are teachers and students face-to-face, the relationship now includes an increase in communication via email or instant messenger. However, just because you have unlimited access to your professors doesn’t mean there are not any guidelines to follow.  Here are some do’s and dont’s:


  • Use formal titles and salutations in all e-mails and communication with your professor.
  • Properly identify yourself using your full name, ID#, class, and section number in all correspondence.
  • Use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling in ALL work, even e-mails.  Use spell check and proofread before sending.
  • Be short and to the point when using e-mail.  Make sure you are specific as to what you are requesting. Don’t be too wordy.  You can often use bullet points instead of a lot of text.
  • Be thorough and specific when taking quizzes or writing papers.
  • Use respect with colleagues on discussion boards and other collaborative assignments.


  • Don’t expect instant response on emails and grades.
  • Don’t complain when you don’t receive what you think to be a timely response.
  • Don’t WRITE IN ALL CAPS.  This is considered to be shouting in the online world.
  • Do not use texting language at any time in the educational environment.  Write out each word, for example: “u r gr8” should be fully written out as “You are great.”
  • Don’t practice intellectual laziness.  Don’t just do the assignment to “get it done,” do it to learn.
  • Don’t violate the golden rule.

Results or Excuses

Change the Habit – We often get in the habit of constantly providing excuses rather than holding to a results mentality.  For many students, the most striking difference between college and high school is that at college there’s no one there to stand over you and tell you what to do. Getting to class, doing the homework, getting your papers in on time—all of these are things you’re going to have to do without a parent or teacher to beat on you. Step up to bat and take responsibility. You’re in charge of this thing. Here are some tips to overcoming the “excuse habit.”  It is as easy as ABC!

The ABC’s:

  • Ask: Pray and specifically ask God and others to reveal to you how you may life the “results not excuses lifestyle.”
  • Be accountable: Make yourself accountable to someone on deadlines you set.  Make small commitments and get those results and reward yourself when you accomplish intermediate goals.
  • Commit to really becoming ALL that God created you to be.  Look at your life as being a steward.  God has entrusted you with talents, opportunities and specific tasks.
  • As we practice the ABC’s, we must make specific goals, write them down and get them done!

Class Etiquette

GO to Class

Most students have a “cutting budget”: the number of classes they think they can miss and still do pretty well in the course. For four, five, six, seven classes, you might think: “No problem, I’ll get the notes.” When you miss 6 classes and (if the course has 28 meetings for 75 minutes) you’ve missed 20 percent of the content. This pattern of behavior can do major damage to your cumulative GPA, the results of your tests and other course outcomes.  GO to class, be early, get engaged in the content!

Adjust your Attention Span

You are a digital native, you live in the digital age, you’re used to getting your content in short, entertaining blasts: one- to three-minute YouTube videos, hyper abbreviated text messages, and 140-character tweets.

Your professor is thinking in terms of a 50-75 minute lecture, divided into perhaps two, three or 4 segments if you are fortunate. Retrain your attention span to process long—very long, it will seem—units of content.  Rather than zoning in and out as things strike you as interesting or SLEEPING through lectures.  Become an active learner by asking relevant questions, taking notes, completing the pre-class reading and assignments.  You will reap the rewards.

Connect with your professor

The single most underutilized resource at college is the office hour, now available in-person, by e-mail, or by Skype. You might not have realized it, but professors are required to be in their office eight hours per week to meet with students and help them with the course workload. Most faculty post office hours outside their office door and list them inside their course syllabus. Take advantage of this reserved time by seeking to build a relationship with your faculty.  Your tests and papers will receive better grades if you’ve asked about things you’re confused about, and, with any luck, receive some guidance from the professor about what your thesis sentence should be or what’s going to be on the test.