How to Succeed at a University

How To Prepare Yourself For College Math

College is an intimidating word for someone who hasn’t tried it out yet. Before I was in college, I thought that it was going to be the hardest thing that I had ever done. In many ways it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but not in the ways I had previously thought.

I have gone to two separate universities, and they both had the same basic keys to success. There are actually two kinds of success at a university, and they do not have to take place simultaneously. The first way in which one can be successful is by the obvious bench marking strategies: good grades. The second way to be successful at a university is to learn what is intended for the student to learn. These successes are not necessarily going to automatically go hand in hand. This how-to guide will explain how to be successful in both areas.


It is NOT hard to get good grades in college. The sad thing about it is that, in most cases and with most professors, one just has to figure out the particular formula, the “A” formula, for each class.

The Book

Some classes are not very interactive. The teacher will simply assign passages from the book, lecture in class every time, and then give about 5 multiple choice tests. The tests will be the entirety of the grades for the student for the whole semester. In these type of classes, to get an “A”, the best bet is for the student to go to class for the whole time until the first test.

To prepare for this first test, the student should read out of the textbook whatever they were supposed to read, and they should also go to class everyday taking fairly extensive notes. This way the student will be prepared for anything, and ready to answer any question the not-yet-deciphered teaching type asks.

Usually, the student finds that everything the teacher has lectured about, nearly down to the word, can be found in the text book chapters which were also assigned. In this case, after most likely being disappointed at the waste of money this has displayed, the student learns that they in fact do not need to go to class at all if they don’t want to. A simply review of the assigned reading, and a double check of the syllabus to make sure the test dates are correct will lead to the desired grade.

The Essay

A very different teaching and testing type can be found in the university setting. This is the teacher who assigns readings, but none of the lecture material comes from these readings, and their tests are primarily writing essays or short stories.

The mere mention of an essay test leaves most students screaming for the hills, but I can guarantee you, this teacher has a formula like an other. The best thing a student can do in a class like this is to come to class everyday and take good notes. These type of professors (no malicious intent) enjoy hearing themselves speak, and will enjoy you enjoying hearing them speak. What they basically want is for their students to agree with and understand them. This means that what they will respond to the best while grading papers is a student who is saying exactly what they have said (what they like to hear most).

All one has to do for these tests is study the class notes really well, and do one’s best to regurgitate what the teacher has previously said in lectures. Also, if a student’s face is seen everyday to the professor who is grading the essay, being human, they cannot help but bias their grade at least a little bit. They will want to believe that they have made a positive and lasting impression which should show its progress within the essay. It is generally true in these classes that it is not necessary to do the reading material.

In general, with the exception of the type of professor first explained, it is a students best bet to go to class everyday. Not every professor fits into one of these two categories. Many professors fit somewhere in between, but almost every professor will be affected in some way by seeing your face every day in class. Because this is true, one should do the following:

  • Sit in the front if possible
  • Prepare for class so that the professor can be impressed by the knowledge you volunteer.
  • Volunteer what you know. Don’t be afraid to answer questions.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Ask good questions.

Another way to be successful in college is gaining the knowledge which was intended by the nature of the class. Just getting good grades does not necessarily mean that one is learning all that one should be. The best way to do this is as follows.

Gaining Intended Knowledge

Unfortunately, the grading system is not necessarily one which accurately portrays what the student has learned. In order to really learn from a class, the student must do some things which are not on the syllabus.

Read the assigned reading whether or not you think that it will be on the test. This is important because some professors intend the reading assigned as a supplemental part of the education of the class. If you are truly interested in the subject matter, make time to read those readings so that you can truly learn what was intended.

Look up the subtopics brought up in class which interest you. If you hear the teacher briefly say something that you are particularly interested in, google it, or look it up on the internet in some way. Be aware of current events surrounding it. This way, you are learning how to really learn outside of the classroom setting.

Another way in which one can get the most out of one’s education is to do the extra credit which is offered in the class. Usually, the extra credit in a class is meant to supplement the learning for the class. It isn’t randomly assigned for no reason.

College can be an experience which one gets nothing out of or everything out of. It is up to the individual student to make the most of the experience to either get good grades, learn the material fully, or both. It is so expensive now to get an education. A student should make the experience worth the money it costs.