While pursuing a college degree, students have access to endless opportunities for advancement and personal growth. The majority of college students often have a bad semester during freshman year. Adjusting to the new social atmosphere, developing effective study habits and managing the stress burden is difficult for almost any entering freshman. But students shouldn't worry - they should try to grow from the experience and use it to their advantage.Know what's expected. Begin the first day of class motivated and with a positive attitude. It is imperative to take notes starting on the first day of class, even if it's standard material that you think you already know.A focused student should establish a routine time to study for each class. For every hour spent in class, students will probably need to study two hours outside of class. Studying for each subject should be at the same time daily and should include more than just doing the required homework."Being prepared for class allows for the material to be reinforced and therefore more likely to be understood and remembered." said Howard Abadinsky, PhD, a professor of Criminal Justice & Legal Studies at St. John's University. Although it's necessary to memorize facts, it is also important to know exactly how much information needs to be committed to memory. It's not always required of students to memorize every detail written in a textbook. Occasionally students can learn to "profile" professors. Professors' teaching methods will often suggest what they feel is essential for students to remember. They key in profiling a professor is to listen carefully during class lectures. A professor who specifically highlights certain notes on the board with key points, is often telling students to pay attention and remember specifically what has been outlined. Take into account, every professor is different and what works in one class will not necessarily work in another. Studying should include a review of lecture notes and making sure they are clearly understandable. Study each syllabus daily to see what material needs to be reviewed for the following day's classes. Be sure to do reading assignments on time and read ahead whenever possible. One way of staying on top of a class is by preparing for each class as if there were going to be an exam. "Since most professors ask questions in class that approximate what will be on exams, attendance brings advantages beyond lecture and discussion content." said Abadinsky, Studying is essential to maintaining good grades. Find at least one or two students in each class to study with. Students who study with someone routinely make better grades. Students who work in groups often are more motivated if someone else cares about how well they are doing in the class. Teaching a concept or new idea to someone else is a definite way for students to understand it. However, studying in a group or with a partner can sometimes become too social. It is important to stay focused. Students have numerous resources available to them on campus when it comes to studying. They should make use of study resources on campus, and use labs, tutors, videos, computer programs and alternate texts or reserved readings.Get to know professors and advisers and always ask questions. "I didn't know" or "I didn't understand" is never an excuse. Stopping by an adviser's office once a week shows that the student is motivated and focused.Students should not be embarrassed to ask for help when it is needed. Colleges offer tutors, academic counselors, advisers, internship opportunities, career counselors and many other services that students pay for in their tuition regardless of whether they use these services or not.Students should get as much work experience related to their field as possible before graduation. Internships and work experience help students secure a job upon graduation. For those students who do not have problems maintaining good academic standing, work experience is still advantageous to have an extra edge when beginning the job search.Students should never underestimate the importance of maintaining their grade point average, or GPA. Since many assume they will be employed instantaneously upon graduation, their GPA is not always a top priority, but it should be.And a college's reputation may not always attract recruiters to hire students. This is true during economic downturns and hiring freezes when there is stiff competition for high-level positions. With the job market more concentrated with qualified applicants, higher GPAs distinguish competing job candidates. The GPA is critical for graduates attempting to land that first serious job.Reach contributing writer Alison Daley be e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 162.
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