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10 Keys to College Success

Local experts weight in on what new college students should do help ensure success and graduation.

1. Learn time management

“Success in college is about time management,” says Brian Singleton, vice chancellor of student services at the Wayne County Community College District. “Time is the most poorly used asset on campus. Finding it, managing it and using it in a consistent, methodical way is the most important factor in college success.”

2. Schedule your study sessions

“Most students begin the new school year with the best intentions and with plans to study more effectively than they may have the previous semester,” says Michelle Hunt Bruner, director of the Academic Success Center at Wayne State University in Detroit. “Unless students set aside dedicated time to review their notes, to read a chapter of their textbook or to begin writing a paper, it’s easy to let other things steal those minutes or hours. We encourage students to schedule time on their phones or some other calendar to study at a particular time each day.”

3. Learn time management

“Utilize your syllabus and know how you will be assessed,” Singleton advises. “Different classes have different types of assessments. The type of assessment will help determine the specific information you need to study.”

4. Talk to your academic advisor

“Visit your academic advisor frequently and regularly,” says Singleton. “This ensures not only that you are taking the right classes but also provides students a wealth of information.”

5. Know where to get help

It’s important for students to be open to learning new study strategies, Bruner says. “Most colleges and universities have an office like ours, an academic success center or resource center, focused on helping students understand how they learn best. … We want students to take advantage of this kind of support, and we find that some of the strongest students work with our learning specialists or tutors on a regular basis.”

6. Take care of yourself

Eating right and getting enough sleep will go a long way in helping you avoid burnout, Singleton says. “Don’t underestimate the value of self-care,” Singleton says. “It is the foundation of success in everything you do in life.”

7. Seek out resources

“Explore and utilize all student support resources and services available to you, like disability services, veteran services and career planning and placement,” Singleton suggests.

8. Get involved

Student clubs, sports and service groups are great ways to get involved. The more connected you are to your new college community, the more options you’ll have for support if you need it.

9. Communicate

If you don’t understand something in class, ask your instructor. Set up a meeting or visit during the instructor’s office hours. Communicate your needs, concerns and feedback.

10. Be a friend

You aren’t in grade school anymore, but the same rule applies: Treat others as you’d like to be treated. The friendships you make in college can last a lifetime. 

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