The Successful College Student
(C) - Copyright, 2002 F.W. Boyle, Jr., Ph.D.

A lofty goal! A grand ideal! A difficult trek!

How does one achieve success in education in a post-secondary world? First one must know what the term, post-secondary, means. Grades 1 through 8 are considered primary grades while 9 through 12 are secondary. Thus "post-secondary" is any schooling after the primary and secondary levels. A community college, a four year college, a university, a culinary school, a performing arts center can all be considered post-secondary. What all these centers of advanced learning have in common is that the efforts of the student are of utmost importance. Professors/instructors become guides to knowledge but each student must search for and learn on his/her own accord.

Advancing in education requires a major commitment on the part of the student. The student must commit to attending lectures/learning sections. The student must commit to working outside the formal class sessions for at least twice as many hours as the student is in lecture. However, the student must balance learning and living. Proper development on the part of the student means meeting new people, learning about the world, becoming broadly educated, expanding one's mind, gowing to be an adult rather than simply an aging child.

The student is in a job, the job of becoming educated, a job where the student pays for the privilege of learning. And yes education is a privilege. All persons have a right to knowledge, but knowledge can be obtained without a formal system of education. Attending a college or university is a privilege earned through hard work and diligence. The resulting education can never be taken from you. Good reading habits and good study habits are key to success in these advanced levels.

I would like to say that all professors/instructors care about the student, many do. However, there are many who do not. The student must face the challenges of dealing with a myriad of personalities, some good, some bad. Ask others about a professor who is unknown to you before you take a class.

In defense of instructors and professors, post-secondary classes are often large and thus impersonal. If the student is uneasy with large classes, the student should consider other small universities or colleges. A student can obtain an excellent undergraduate education at literally hundreds of colleges and universities in the many states. Large universities are generally not better for an undergraduate. Large universities often have truly large classes and the student is more likely to be considered a number at a large university. Pick a small, close- to-home college for your first degree. Attendance at so-called top-rated universities should be saved for graduate work.

A recap of some basic steps to success:

      Attend every class session, unless a true emergency arises.

      Read all of your textbook and read it again.

      Work all assigned problems even if the problems are not
      collected. Learn the underlying concepts to which the
      problems correspond. Answers to problems are not actually
      about a specific answer but about the method and concepts of
      determing the solution and evaluating the information.

      If you have problems, get help.
           Go to the professor
           Go to the teaching assistant
           Go to the Center for Learning Assistance
           Go to someone who has had and has passed the course

      Work on your reading skills.

      Work on your problem solving skills.

      Realize you are earning your degree and your job enroute is
      to learn the information. Your professor's job is to guide
      you, not to tell you what you need to know.

      Take an enjoyment class every semester. The PE department
      offers wide array of courses from archery to dancing to
      swimming to weight training. There is no rule about earning
      more credits than the number specified for your degree. All
      credits above 12 and to 18 are essentially free.

An educated person never stops learning.