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College Success: Prepare for College

This guide will provide you with resources to help you become a more successful college student.

How to Prepare for College

College  is an investment you make for your future. The amount of time you spend preparing for college can lead to great  benefits. These benefits can be more satisfaction in your career (not just a job) and higher earnings than if you only completed high school.

Don't  waste your time or money—prepare for college and increase your ability to  meet your educational goals.

Getting started:


9th grade

  • Investigate college requirements and plan accordingly. Investigate which high school classes colleges require you to complete.

10th grade

  • Take a rigorous courseload. Especially if you are interested in a science major or a science career, take rigorous courses in those areas. Be aware of pre-requisites for classes you may need to take this year in order to qualify for junior and senior year classes.
  • Meet with your counselor or other guides and advocates to discuss your progress and future plans.

11th grade

  • Take a rigorous courseload. This is your most important academic year because these will be the most recent grades available to colleges.
  • Get to know your teachers. They will likely be writing college recommendation letters for you. The more they know you, the better their letters will be.

12th grade

  • Continue taking rigorous courses and doing well. Senior year grades do matter. If you are applying regular decision, your first semester grades will be in the application.
  • Use writing classes to help with your college essays. 



12 Habits of Highly Successful College Students

by C.J. Hatcher

1. Assess your study skills.  The best way to do this is to start with an honest assessment of your personal study skills:  how well do you concentrate; how are your note-taking skills; how well do you manage your time?  Students who learn to understand their own personal learning styles and develop study skills accordingly are more successful.  Reaching out to fellow students for study tips is also helpful.

2. Get organized.  Take responsibility for your studies.  Write down deadlines, exam dates, times, and venues for all your classes.  Show up on time and be ready to learn.

3. Attend lectures.  Even though copies of lecture notes and handouts are often provided online, reading these won't be the same as having been in the lecture.  Often lecturers will include extra examples, include emphasis on certain areas of study, or refer to specific pages in your textbooks, all of which may not be included in the handouts.  You will attend a lot of lectures during the course of your studies and come across many lecturing styles.  You will enjoy some of these more than others, but don't let an individual style put you off.

4. Take notes.  At some lectures you will be provided with extensive notes, copies of all the presentation slides or equivalent, a lot of online material.  Other lectures much less.  It all depends on the way the particular lecturer teaches, and on the topic.  Even the most extensive and comprehensive set of PowerPoint slides and/or lecture notes won’t be sufficient.  You need to learn to write things down in a way that you will understand, especially when it comes to revision for exams.

5. Ask questions.  Become an active learner and if there is something which you don't understand, never be afraid to ask.  If you don't feel like putting your hand up in a large class then you can always catch the lecturer at the end.  Make use of workshops and tutorials which are specifically designed to help you deepen your understanding of the subject and give you the opportunity to ask more questions.

6. Use your textbooks.  Most large textbooks are best used as a reference in preparing for specific lectures by reading ahead, for finding pertinent examples, as a source of questions for practice and revision, and/or help in solving problems.

7. Practice makes perfect.  This includes everything from making sure you have the required class materials, to doing your homework and studying for tests, to getting enough sleep.  It also includes working on your craft every day.  When it comes to skills like math, daily practice is essential.  Online tutorial programs are usually available to students.

8. Submit work.  Submit your work on time.  Be organized in knowing when deadlines are coming up and be realistic about how much time you need to plan, write up, and submit work to a decent standard.

9. Plan for exams.  You will do best in your exams if you read, practice, and stay current as you go along, so that you not only remember the notes, but properly understand the content.

10. Read your emails and other digital correspondence.  Most announcements, especially those relating to aspects of administration (deadlines, things you need to check, etc.) are sent to student distribution lists via your university email, twitter, or Face Book address.  It is vital that you get into the habit of checking your accounts regularly.

11. Be proactive and empower yourself.  The more students empower themselves, by actively researching and taking advantage of all the various support services their university offers, the more they can take a proactive stance on their education.

12. Keep in touch.  Each year, unfortunately, some students lose their way, be it through family or medical problems, or feeling as though they aren't enjoying the university experience in general.  A successful student will “stay in touch.”  Most universities have a variety of support services and people who can help.  If you find you are struggling, make sure you tell someone in the department of your major.  

The Examiner