A Rulebook for Students
Success in College
This is a work in progress, combining independently developed student-success guidance materials by Nathan Nobis and Trevor Hedberg. Check back for updates!
Available here in a Word file:
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A RULEBOOK FOR STUDENTS
Some rules are meant to be broken and there are exceptions to many rules. For college students, though, there are rules they can follow that will contribute to success in their classes: they will learn more, have more enjoyable and rewarding class experiences, impress their professors with their involvement and quality work and, perhaps most importantly, get better grades.
College is an opportunity that can open the door to greater opportunities, and the more you make of your opportunities in college, the greater your chances for success beyond college, in many ways. Following these rules below will increase your likelihood of success, in many ways.
Below is first a list of rules, and below that list is a discussion of each rule. When any rule seems obvious, consider it a good reminder of what you should do. If any rule is new to you, think about how you can integrate into your practices as a student. And since a basic rule of college is to think critically, if you think some rule is a bad one, let us know why: you may be right!
With this all in mind, let us turn to the rules and the discussion of them.
Nathan Nobis, Ph.D.
Philosophy, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
20 TIPS FOR BECOMING A
BETTER UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT
Many undergraduate students perform below their potential in college courses, and even those who perform well often do so in very inefficient ways, usually by studying excessively and limiting their engagement in other activities. While some students simply lack the discipline to do what conventional wisdom suggests they ought to do (e.g., attending class frequently, avoiding allnighters), some so-called conventional wisdom is actually misguided, and students’ adherence to it actually hinders their ability to develop optimal study habits.
This list is my attempt, based on my experiences as an undergraduate student and as a teacher of undergraduate students, to help current undergrads develop better study habits, achieve higher grades in their courses, and have a more fulfilling educational experience in the process. A few tips are reiterations of messages that students have probably heard before, but many are not as widely known. And some of them evenoppose traditional study norms. Tips 1-10 represent the advice that largely aligns with common sense, and most of this advice will be familiar to most readers (although some of these tips are rarely followed). Tips 11-20, in contrast, tend to either conflict with common sense, or – despite their intuitive plausibility – to be rather unknown to most students. I follow each tip with an explanation of how students (generally) will benefit from following it.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville