How to Be Successful in College: 5 Rules I Wish I Knew Before

By Alicia Clarke

Posted 6 years agoGROWTH

Five Tricks I Wish I Did When I Was Still in College

College is a unique phase. It is a time when you could be crazy enough to try out different things and experience life without the need of fake IDs. However, it comes with an expectation that you will be ready for the real world once college is over. So below are five tricks I wish I knew (and did!) when I was in college:

Rule No.1: Going to class prepared

Spoon-feeding is so high school. College is for surprise exams, graded recitations, and impromptu essays. It is easy to hand in mediocre outputs but there will be grave consequences. That is why it is essential that you come to class fully-equipped.  This is a skill that could not only make you survive, but it could also pave a way for you to do really well in college.

Here are some quick tips to jump start your college journey:

Improve your listening skills

It is important that you record all the things that needs to be done in one platform. This could be an app, a calendar, or a notebook. This ensures that you got everything covered and that you don’t leave anything out of your schedule. With this, you can also avoid double bookings, may it be for school or for personal matters.

Take down notes effectively

Few people realize how easily we tend to forget. Even the sharpest memory could still fail given the amount of things you need to pay attention to. Because of this, we all need to master the art of taking down notes.

Even more important to taking down notes is to truly understand what we are writing. We all need to develop a method that best works for us. You could try varying the font for more important details or changing the color of your highlighter for more vital information. You may also need to leave a few spaces to write down your comments and questions later on. Whatever the method is, it is crucial that this feeds our drive to study more.

Study to learn, not to pass

I could not stress this enough – concept matters. You need to get a good grasp of the concept rather than focusing on answering the review questions. When you have thoroughly understood the core concept, no matter how tricky a question can be, this cannot derail you in getting the right answer.

Rule No. 2: Building up grades at the beginning semesters

Minor subjects are often integrated at the start of your college years. Not that they are guaranteed to be a piece of cake, but they are mostly more tolerable compared to the major ones.

Don’t slack off on the easier classes just because they’re a breeze. You can leverage on those easy A’s to balance out the harder classes come junior and senior year.

Rule No. 3: Making a schedule and sticking to it

Routine can be boring but doesn’t make it less effective. Figuring out how to effectively spend your time is especially crucial at time when we easily fall into the trap of being disorganized.

When you develop a schedule, you are most likely to get more things done in much less time. Sticking to a schedule makes it easier for your body and your brain to adapt, making you more productive. Below are some ways to get you started:

Use a single platform in scheduling everything. It is important that you record all the things that need to be done in one app, calendar, or notebook. This ensures that you got everything covered. You can also avoid double bookings; may it be for school or personal matters.

Find the routine that best works for you

People work differently and function uniquely at a given period of time. As such, it is important that you find the method that suits you best.

If you are new to scheduling, you may start with the ones available online and adjust according to your homeworks, exams, family dinners and even social gatherings and dates. It may be difficult at first but once you’re able to find your balance and discover the routine that you could work most productively on, you’ll find yourself breezing through this routine.

Learn to be flexible, even within the routine

Having a schedule does not guarantee that everything will pan out as planned. Time and time again, there will be days when you will be caught with a bad flu, missed deadlines, unscheduled family gatherings and bad weather conditions. When things like these happen, you can’t get too stressed out. Reality is, you just have to live throughout these unexpected moments.

When you have a routine, it is a lot easier to squeeze these in. With the schedule, you can check which activities you could cut time to make way for these unexpected – but equally important – tasks.

Rule No. 4:  Being mindful of who I hang out with

College is the best time to get to know people. For most, this is the time to socialize in field parties, join sororities or to get involved in multiple organizations. Whatever your motives are, it is important that you know that your personality, beliefs, ideas and even goals could potentially be affected by your social circle.

The friends you meet college are mostly the ones you journey with in the professional world. Make sure you do it with the right people. It is better to be alone than to be with the wrong company.

Rule No. 5:  Relaxing once in while

College can be a stressful phase and time will come when you will have too much on your plate if you do not allow yourself some breathing space.

As with any other human being, taking time off is essential to your productivity and well-being. Allow yourself time to hang out with friends, to be silly with your family, or to enjoy your own company and rejuvenate. You will find that time spent away from serious matters could actually help you in coming up with new strategies to do better. You will be surprised at the sudden surge of passion and enthusiasm brought about by relaxing once in a while.

While it is true that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all trick in surviving your college life, it is important to note the things that you can do to make the best out of it. After all, this is the time when you discover more of what you really want in life. Whatever college hacks you decide to experiment on, make sure you use this to get to where you really want to be.

About the author Alicia Clarke

Alice Clarke is an educator and a passionate writer at She loves hitchhiking and exploring new places for writing catching pieces.

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