Student Success Strategy #70: Advice from Students

I’ve collected some of the advice that my students wrote in one of their success assignments over the years.  This assignment asked them to write a letter to a high school senior, giving the advice they wish they would have received prior to coming to college.

“Don’t rely on one alarm clock.”

“Everything else seems urgent when you need to study.  It isn’t.”

“It costs a lot more than you planned for.  Buy used books or share a book with a friend in the same class.”

“Get involved early, but with only one or two clubs.”

“Sit in the front row and smile.  Introduce yourself to your professor.  Go to office hours.   This is not kissing up, but managing your image with someone who is going to give you a grade.”

“Don’t procrastinate.  Really.  Get things done as soon as they are assigned and you’ll avoid lots of stress.”

“Ask a lot of questions, even if you know the answers.  Your teacher will think you are paying attention.”

“Don’t believe every guy who says  he really likes you.  It’s not his brain talking.”

“Use your meal plan.  You can’t afford anything else.”

“Facebook is not your friend.”

Student Success Strategy #70:  Listen to other students for good advice.


Student Success Strategy #69: What Do You Need To Learn?

You are in school, studying, writing papers, taking tests and collaborating on group projects.  After earning a degree, you want to establish yourself in a career.

“Here I am, World!  Pay me!”

But have you learned anything about working?  You may be the genius in your stock market economics class, the star of your social work program, or the dream student for your favorite professor, but there are workforce skills you must master to succeed in your career.

This is one reason why internships, externships, and co-op learning experiences are so important while you are in college.  By participating in these, you see and learn first-hand what the work world requires of you.

The shirt with the three-leaf logo on it?  Might be okay for class.  Not okay for the workplace.  Not even to walk in to pick up an application.

Skip a day just because you felt like it?  You might be affected by a loss of points in class, but skipping work?  A great way to lose a job.

Arguing with fellow students on a project?  You need to learn negotiation, conflict resolution, and anger management skills for the workplace.

What if you are almost done with your academic studies and there is no time to commit to a semester-long internship?

Your career services office can help.  Eligibility for their services usually includes alumni, so don’t ignore them after graduation.

But wait!  There’s more!  There are  many services in the community to help you get a job and learn the skills needed to be an excellent employee.  If you have already graduated – whether recently or many years ago – and now need help with employment opportunities and skills, check them out!   They have work skills seminars, resume-writing services, and interviewing practice sessions.  Some of these community organizations even find you paid internships that can lead to permanent positions.

Student Success Strategy #69:  What do you need to learn?  More than what’s covered in your classes.


Student Success Strategy #68: Drink up

Should professors allow students to bring food and drinks into the classroom?

Some institutions have rules against this, partly for cleanliness of the facilities, but also to protect electronic equipment.   Spills into computer keyboards can be disastrous.

At least in the southern part of the US, students carry bottled water – or coffee, or soft drinks –  everywhere they go.  It’s important to stay hydrated for brain function.  When the weather is hot, it’s necessary for simple comfort and basic health.  It can also help students stay alert during quieter times in class.  I’m all for it!

As long as they recycle the plastic bottles or carry out their reusable ones and clean up any spills, it’s a great idea to have something to drink during class.

Even libraries are allowing students to bring covered drinks inside, and many now have coffee counters within the lobby, next to public computers and displays of books.

Students must accept their responsibilities, though.  Leave the classroom at least as clean and uncluttered as you found it at the beginning of class.  If there is a spill, clean it up.  If it affects electronics, report it (it happens).

Student Success Strategy #68:  Drink up, clean up!

Student Success Strategy #67: Doodles

What do your handwritten notes look like?  Are there squiggles, stars, or other non-text doodles in the margins?  Why not make them fun AND useful?

Instead of random doodling, draw a quick picture of something that would remind you of the main points in your notes?  Sure, it’s easy if you need to label parts of a cell, but be creative.  Is there a quick picture you could draw next to the main points you need to remember.

How many times have you “looked” inside your brain and seen the page where information appears, and you know exactly where on that page the information you need is written?  Adding a small picture will make it more easily spotted in your brain.

Even a star, an underline, or a colored highlighter will help, but if you can add a picture with meaning, your brain will make a stronger association and will be more likely to recall the information when you are under the stress of a test.

Try it!  You know you are doodling anyway.

Student Success Strategy #67:  Make doodling a study strategy to remember important material more easily.

Student Success Strategy #66: Even More Pet Peeves

Are sleep pants the new fashion on campus?

A few of my students have worn them to class, and it’s not that they didn’t have a chance to recover from the night before, when my class began at 4:30 p.m.

Creating an image that you are a serious student who also likes to have fun is very different from creating an image that you have fun and happen to attend classes.  Yet this is what happens when you come to class in inappropriate clothing.

Far from imposing a strict dress code, there are still some clothing items that should be avoided in class.


Low cut tops that expose more cleavage than you think.  You are sitting down, and usually leaning over or slumping.  The professors are standing up.

Cropped tops showing your midriff.  Especially with low-cut jeans or shorts.  While you may be fairly modest walking, sitting down and bending over can provide onlookers more skin than you realize.

Visible underwear, including straps, is not appropriate.  No matter how cute or colorful, or that it’s the style.  It’s call UNDERwear for a reason.

Short skirts.  Ladies, if you are wearing a skirt, learn to keep your legs tightly together at all times.  There are no modesty panels on student desks, and movement draws observers’ eyes.


Jeans or shorts that do not cover your underwear.  Do you want to have to think about whether they are about to fall off your hips, or do you want to pay attention to what is going on around you?  Again, it’s called UNDERwear.

Mesh tops.  Enough said?

Ball caps with brims pulled low.  In fact, it’s best if you don’t wear a cap at all, but if you do, be sure it allows your professor to make eye contact with you.

For all, remember that your professors may be your only references when you apply for a scholarship, internship, or job.  Why not make them comfortable so they can focus on you and your work, rather than the discomfort that your state of dress or undress brings?

Student Success Strategy #66:  Dress appropriately to create your best image.