September 2013 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the unemployment rate for those with college degrees was 3.9 percent, while that number nearly doubled for those with high school diplomas. Though getting a higher education is a worthy investment, it can be academically challenging. Using key strategies, however, helps college students succeed.
Interact With Professors
The Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth College recommends that students build working relationships with their professors. A student who finds a class held in a large lecture hall impersonal can benefit from sitting down with a professor or teaching assistant during scheduled office hours. Getting to know professors personalizes the college experience. Asking professors for advice on how to do well in their class can alleviate uncertainty. Professors who have spent one-on-one time with students are also better able to write reference letters.
Join Study Groups
Studying in a group can alleviate the anxiety of trying to make sense of difficult material alone. A collaborative process that can make a lonely routine into a dynamic one, group study is a practice on campuses throughout the U.S. Study groups at Bowdoin college are led by upperclass students familiar with the course content. The Newnan Advising Center at the University of Michigan recommends that its students join study groups to better learn class material and prep for tests.
Study, Study, Study
College students should consider dedicating two hours of study time to every hour spent in a class. Of course, the results will vary depending on learning styles and level of interest in the subject, as well as other factors. While this basic formula is advised on many campuses that include the University of Alabama, the California Polytechnic State University Department of Science and Mathematics strongly urges its freshmen to study at least 25 to 30 hours a week.
Learn How to Take Notes
Taking good notes may come naturally to some. Many, however, need to learn how to concisely capture large amounts of information. Students at colleges such as Dartmouth are advised to use the Cornell Note-Taking System. A method created by a Cornell professor, it involves dividing each page of notes into two vertical columns, one that contains main concepts and another that consists of questions that the main concepts address. A designated space for a summary should also be included at the bottom of the page.
- Penn State Division of Undergraduate Studies: Academic Studies
- Cal Poly: Academic Success Information for Incoming Students
- Learning Strategies Inventories: Assess How You Learn
- The New York Times: Those Low Grades in College May Haunt Your Job Search
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: The Employment Situation -- September 2013
Jen Jefferson has been a writer and researcher since 2001. Her work has appeared in "Business Insights" and other publications. Jefferson has a Bachelor of Arts in English from The New School and a certificate in French from the International Language School in Montreal.