I’ll start with my philosophy for success at school and life and then get into specifics for undergrads:
- Do the best job you can on every assignment and task. If you do, you will never “kick yourself” or think that you could have done better. You did the best you could with the tools you had and as you learn, you will gain more tools and do better.
- Work like hell.
- Listen to everyone but do not follow others blindly
More specific to undergrads:
- This is not high school where you can blow off classes and expect to do well. My formula is that for every three classes a student misses, his or her grade drops by a half grade or 5%. If I were to conduct a longitudinal stats analysis, I believe my hypothesis would be proven true. You can’t skip classes in university without consequences.
- Don’t skate through; if you do, you close doors. These days, your degree will not likely end at university. You may want to take another degree in ten years (seriously – the workplace has changed drastically in the last 20 years – employees are expected to be life long learners). You may want to go to Teachers College or Law School. You may want to go into social work or nursing. You may go premed. You might want to take a post-graduate diploma from college (they are competitive). You might want to keep going and get an MA. For all of these choices, you need to stay in the B range or even the A range. University is about excellence, not just getting by. If you are falling behind with your grades, see an academic adviser, peer mentor, counselor or your prof. In other words, be proactive with your education.
- Join in on campus life, which is not only fun but damn smart in terms of networking for jobs closer. In other words, make a plan for your education and follow through. You can add whatever you do in clubs on campus or other activities on your co-curricular AND your resume. Seriously, you’ll punch yourself down the road if you don’t (there is a lot of punching and kicking in this post…). The person you serve with in a club may be the person who remembers you and suggests that you be hired down the road. See what I mean?
- Be nice to everyone (this was advice given to me in my MA and I have never forgotten it and live by it).
- Don’t go it alone. Visit your profs; chat with the librarians, hang out and play ping pong in the caf. Those who go it alone just do not do as well as those who join.
- Understand the grading system and self-evaluate. If you get a C and you don’t know why – ask. Be sure you understand why you get the grades you do; otherwise, you are flying blind and that’s just silly.
- Don’t be scared of your profs – they were once just like you: an undergrad starting out. They remember what it’s like and they LIKE you to see them. They don’t hold office hours ’cause office hours are just so much fun. Visit them!
- On that note, friends, don’t try to read your profs’ mind. Tackle every assignment by reading the guidelines and rubrics carefully and using the power of your own thought process. For example, if you think: “I bet Prof X would love it if I said this because Prof X is always talking about this in class,” then you will likely get a much lower grade than you thought you would. You are at uni to listen, learn, and think for yourself.
- Have fun, for goodness sakes.
and the last bit of advice is the best, mainly because it’s a cartoon and offers you the good and bad about BEER and COFFEE: