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How to Survive College

Restating Five Common Tips for How to Succeed in College or Instead, How to Survive in College

Check out this video I made about a year ago on how to survive finals season! Note: following the guidelines below will help with upcoming finals. 

Our world has become education driven and continues to do so. All the good jobs require specific college degrees, preferably from esteemed universities. A politician's entire argument can be shot down if he doesn't plan to give a certain percentage more to public schools. All the good romances are set in schools. It's a unique dynamic, builds character, and I can't believe I just said that last point, I sound like an 80-year-old grandpa. 

On the flip side: you can't survive without education. A high school education is required for anything paying above minimum wage. A college education is required for nearly anything you'd want to do. There are a couple things wrong with this. 

  1. Not everyone is good in a classroom, and not all teachers are apt to teach students with low IQ. Failing in a high school or college class is detrimental and hard to recover from. 
  2. Majors aren't always available. For example, theater and creative writing degrees are sparse and hard to come by. At my university three years back, the theater degree was cut to give more money to the aspiring football team. Go figure. 
  3. No one can afford it. To pay for my college at a minimum wage job, I'd have to work 30 hours a week doing something I despise. For four years. And then, I'd never get any schoolwork done and cry myself to sleep as I wonder why I'm paying to take classes I'm failing. Buckle up, the classes only get harder from here. 

So how do we succeed in college? Have a full ride! But since a full ride doesn't exist, let's get some Survival Tips, derived from common Success Tips. 

Attend classes. = Attend classes.

I know, this one didn't change. But remember: you have three absences. Don't use them all at the beginning of the year. Use them when you are sick and at the end of the year when you need to use that class period to study. Use them when you have an activity planned for the whole class period. Look over the syllabus and use them when the professor is discussing a topic you're already well versed in.

Portion when you skip.

Don't be late to classes, though. Not because class is interesting and will get more interesting if you arrive promptly, but because three tardy things equals and absence, and you can't afford that. Literally.

Study more hours. = Know how you study.

The idea that studying for hours upon time will cement information in your brain is incorrect. It is the repeating of information that will cement it in your brain. General rule of thumb: if you sit and study something for three hours straight, you won't remember a thing. Portion your studying, to start with.

Then, figure out how you study. Take Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory test. This will help you understand how you are smart. For example, I'm musically intelligent. I used a song to memorize the books of the Old Testament and have been singing it to myself on and off for the past couple of days. I'm gonna ace this test.

Maybe you learn best by taking notes over and over. Then take furious notes in class and type them up later. Maybe you learn audibly. Record the lectures and listen to them when you're browsing Instagram. Maybe you learn best interpersonal. Then get a study buddy.

Quality over quantity, my friend. It's better to effectively study for thirty minutes the night before a test than pull an all-nighter studying in ways that don't make sense for how you're wired.  

Join a study group. = Make friends in class.

Study groups cater to the learning needs of whoever formed it. I went to a lesson plan study group and relearned everything I already knew. Instead, make friends with the smart people in class (you know, the ones who legit read the textbook for enjoyment?). Get their phone number, their Instagram, their Snapchat, MySpace, whatever. Then, when it's eight at night and your professor is snoring at home, you have someone to call upon.

Professors often take a day or two to answer emails, which is understandable. They have set office hours, over two hundred students, and other obligations. Give them grace.

However, these friends will be more than willing to clear up a key point or remind you just what's due next. They're on call (literally) and probably are on their phone anyway. 

Use tutors. = Use tutors.

Your college has a free tutoring service available. Unless you've paid barely anything to attend this school, some of your money is going to pay these people, regardless of whether you use them. They're students, like you, who are willing to help you.

Try to be a bit prepared before you go in, but if it's a last minute desperate situation, they're more versed than you could ever be. Know the hours of your center, and get the contact information of good tutors, just in case there's a last minute situation. 

Pick a major you love. = Pick what's closest to what you love.

Art schools, technology schools, music schools, writing schools, research schools. These are the top-notch universities that have the exact degree you want to study for, where you learn how to do something you'd do for free. If you are skilled enough to be accepted and excel in a school like this, congratulations, pick your degree and move on.

If you're in a general university, you probably don't have a degree that is perfectly perfect with what you want to do with your life. Creative writing, but does that cover fiction blogging? Electrical engineering, but is that going to enable me to be an inventor? Missions work, but does that apply to local missions?

Pick what's closest. 

Get to know your professors = Get to know how your professors work.

Rate My Professor. It's a lifesaver. Figure out if they're strict, if they always take attendance, how homework is graded, what the exams are like, if the group projects are really as easy as they make them out to be.

Talk to upperclassmen about good professors to take, preferably ones who are in your major. Figure out which ones would work with you before you sign up.

Once class has started, figure out how the professor teaches. Lecture? Activities? Reading? Examples? Figure out if you need to pay undivided attention in class or if you can look at the PowerPoint online in your own time.


All these tips to say, college is hard. Maybe you're geared with a low IQ, meaning you don't learn well in a classroom. That's okay. You can still make it. Maybe you have a high IQ and don't think these tips apply. But whether you have a low or high IQ, there's a common factor:

College is expensive.

You need to manage your time. You need to know how much work must go into each class and how you can use your time effectively enough to make time enough for all your classes. Don't waste time by being on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr...

or... blogging.

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How to Survive College
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