Student Success Strategy #72: And Even More Advice from Students

Here is the third list from my students, who give advice based on what they wish they would have known, or what they learned in their first semester in college.  How much of this could pertain to you?

“You might get homesick, but don’t go home every weekend.  Get involved and make some new friends instead, and even your classes will seem better.”

“If you start getting depressed, see a counselor.  I went to one only because my roommate practically insisted I go.  She said she didn’t want to come into the room to a dead body or a freaked out zombie, and she was worried about me.  I was mad at her at first, but she was right.  I just needed to find out that a lot of other students feel like this too, and there are ways to deal with it.”

“If you want to be different, college is a great time to try on different personalities, but people in your high school and home life are going to run into people in your college life and you will be caught in your lies.  And don’t do anything you’ll be ashamed of because people will find out.”

“The easiest time to make new friends is in the first couple of weeks, when everyone is lost.  You can be stupid together and laugh about it later.  Even if you are shy, walk into things and introduce yourself to somebody.  It won’t always work out, but you may find someone who needs you to be a friend who isn’t a total psycho.  Then if there is a psycho who wants to be friends with you, you’ll have protection!”

Student Success Strategy #72:  Other students have survived.   You can experiment if you are smart about it.


Student Success Strategy #71: More Advice from Students

Here is more advice from my former students.   Some of them are very personal with what they share, and what their consequences were.

“Read your housing contract to see what happens if you break their rules.  I was thrown out of housing in the middle of my fall semester, but was obligated to pay for the entire contract anyway.  All I did was smoke a little weed in the room.  It didn’t hurt anyone.”

“If you are underage, don’t even hold a beer for anyone else.  The police saw me holding a red cup and busted me for underage drinking.  I’ve had beer before, but this time I was just holding it while a friend used the restroom.  I’m now on disciplinary probation and if I get caught doing anything wrong for the next year, I could be suspended from school.”

“If you’ve had a drink, don’t drive.  I got stopped for doing a rolling stop at the stop sign on campus, and they smelled alcohol.  Then I refused the breath test and my license was suspended.  My parents had to come pick up my car. ”

“Pizza every night tastes great, but if you’ve heard of the “Freshman 15″ don’t believe it.  You can gain 30 pounds in a semester if you aren’t careful.”

“Every party is not the best. party. ever. no matter what your friends say.  You’ve still got to study.  You’ve still got to get to class, even your morning classes.  Trying to learn chemistry with a hangover is impossible.  Just staying awake after two nights out is impossible.  I learned the hard way, with a 1.72 GPA.”

Student Success Strategy #71:  Listen to students who learned from their mistakes.  

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.