How to Succeed in College

A successful college experience is about much more than your grades

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It's easy to get tunnel vision when you're working toward a college degree, but you should aspire to more than good grades and graduation. When you finally have that diploma in hand, will you truly feel satisfied? What will you have truly learned and accomplished?

Grades are of course crucial to earning your degree and helping you get into graduate school, but academic success also includes what happens outside your classes. As you take the steps necessary to earn a diploma, look around: College campuses are full of opportunities to experience new activities and meet people who can help you grow.

Explore Different Subjects

You may arrive at college with a specific career track in mind, or you may not have the slightest idea of what you want to major in. No matter which end of the spectrum you're on, let yourself explore a variety of courses. Take an intro class in a field you know nothing about. Sit it on an unusual seminar. You never know—you may discover something you didn't know you'd love.

Follow Your Instincts 

There will undoubtedly be many people giving you advice about what you should do during—and after—college. Take your time exploring your interests, and once it comes time to make decisions about your future, pick a career and course of study that suits you, not your parents. Pay attention to what excites you and make sure you're happy with your academic plans. Once you've made a choice, feel confident in your decision.

Take Advantage of the Resources Around You

Once you've decided on a major—or even a career—make the most of the time you have left, be it one year or four. Take classes from the best professors in your department. Stop by during their office hours to get feedback on your performance and ask any questions you couldn't get answered in class. Grab coffee with your favorite professors and talk about what they love about their field.

This concept goes beyond professors, too. If you're struggling with a certain subject or assignment, see if there's a study group or tutoring center that can help you overcome the obstacle. No one expects you to figure out everything on your own.

Find Ways to Learn Outside the Classroom

You'll only spend so many hours attending class and doing homework—what are you doing with the remaining hours of your day? How you spend your time outside of the classroom is a critical part of your college experience. Make it a priority to branch out, because you're unlikely to have another time in your life where you can so frequently try new things. In fact, the "real world" is a lot more like what you'll encounter in extracurricular activities than in the classroom, so make time for them.

Join a club or organization that explores your interests and passions. You could even run for a leadership position and develop skills that will serve you later in your career. Consider learning about a different culture by studying abroad. See if you have the opportunity to earn course credit by completing an internship. Attend events put on by clubs you're not a member of. No matter what you do, you'll almost certainly learn something new—even if it's just something new about yourself.

Allow Yourself to Be Happy

College is not just about fulfilling your academic aspirations. You need to enjoy your life at college, too. Make sure to make time in your schedule for the things that keep you healthy, whether it be going to the gym or attending religious services. Make time to talk to your family, hang out with your friends, eat well, and get enough sleep. In other words: take care of all of yourself, not just your brain.

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Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Succeed in College." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2023, April 5). How to Succeed in College. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Succeed in College." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 3, 2023).