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10 quick tips on the best study habits and more

Whether you are a first-time freshman or returning to college, do you possess the right study habits to help you succeed in college?  Being aware of your good study habits and recognizing your weaknesses early on will help you figure out strategies, so you can achieve your academic goals.

Here’s our top ten tips for success at WKU!

1.    Hang on to your syllabus

Much like a road map, a syllabus will give you all the important information for each of your classes.  A syllabus typically includes deadlines for projects, a grading scale, a course schedule, and the instructor’s office hours and contact information.  When you feel like you are getting off track with your courses, refer back to your syllabus.

2.    Know where you want to go

In Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he introduced the notion of “Beginning with the End in Mind.”  You have to know where you want to go before you can start a journey.  Make short term and long-term goals to help you stay motivated and on track with completing your coursework.

3.    Attendance matters

This is straightforward.  If you do not go to class, you cannot expect to have the information you need.  In addition, many instructors have attendance policies that may affect your final grade. (Remember: Refer back to the syllabus for important information about your class!)

4.    Get to know your instructors/professors

Contrary to popular belief, your instructors WANT to get to know you.  They want to see you succeed and accomplish your goals. If the only time you speak to them is to ask for extra credit, do not expect the interaction to go favorably.  Utilize their office hours (Refer to your handy-dandy syllabus) and get to know them.  Plus, you may need faculty members to serve as references when it’s time to apply for jobs; build those connections early and often.

5.    Utilize a planner/calendar

Class at 9:30am, 12:45pm and 2pm, study session at 4:30, hit the gym, season premiere of your favorite show with friends, but oh wait, you have an assignment due by the end of the day!  Keeping up with all of your obligations and responsibilities may seem overwhelming when you are juggling school, work, and a social life.  Get in the habit of keeping a calendar with your class deadlines, assignments, work schedule, and social obligations to stay on track.

6.    Have a good method for taking notes

While attending class is the first step to doing well, you need to do more than just be there.  Paying attention and taking quality notes is key.  Taking good notes, in a style that works for you, helps you understand course material and gives you study material.  If you have never looked at different notetaking methods, call the Academic Advising and Retention Center.  We can show you five proven methods to construct notes that help you understand course content.

7.    Textbooks, you paid for them, use them

Hopefully the sticker shock from purchasing your textbooks has worn off, and you are ready to crack them open.  One of the quickest ways to get behind in a class is by not reading your textbook outside of class.  Many times, the instructor assigns readings to complete prior to the next class.  By keeping up with reading assignments, you will be familiar with the upcoming subject, and better prepared to understand the material covered in the lecture. This also helps you better prepare for tests/quizzes/exams throughout the semester.

8.    Ask for help when you need it

Earning a degree is not easy and requires hard work.  With difficult material, the first step is acknowledging when you need help.  Start by talking to your instructor; seek their guidance on how to fully grasp the material and utilize one of the many free tutoring centers on campus.

9.    Know who’s in your corner

College can be a stressful time. Balancing all of your responsibilities and knowing the ins and outs of university life can be overwhelming.  Get to know your academic advisor.  They are here to assist you with selecting courses, help find tutoring services, explain iCAP, and serve as a starting point for any and all questions.  Let your advisor be part of your support system.

10.  Get involved

There is more to college than just classes.  Part of being successful in your college experience is growing outside of the classroom.  By joining a club/organization on campus, it gives you a chance to meet other students with similar interests and gives you a reprieve from the rigors of coursework.  Plus, organizations that are relevant to your major are a great way to make connections for the future and help build your resume.

The content for this post is provided by the Academic Advising & Retention Center (AARC). The mission of AARC is to provide students with the academic support necessary to achieve their academic goals. AARC provides advising, student success initiatives, and training on advising for faculty and staff. We’re happy to help, so feel free to contact us at (270) 745-5065 or

More than 20,000 students grace WKU’s four campus locations in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Glasgow, and Owensboro. For more than 50 years, WKU has offered courses beyond the Bowling Green campus at regional locations. WKU serves students at three regional campuses in Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Glasgow and Owensboro. Two of the principal goals for WKU’s Regional Campuses are to provide access to higher education and to improve the quality of life in the communities they serve.

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 Last Modified 5/2/17