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How To Be Successful In College


The question, “How to be successful in college?” comes up not only among young people, but also among the middle-aged who either want to change careers or who finally have the opportunity to get a higher education.

Having attended college myself, eons ago (it seems, anyway), I have a bit of an idea of what it takes to succeed in that venue. Times have changed; I’m sure now professors are having students e-mail them their term papers and may even be texting assignments.

I don’t know. Most certainly students are using the Internet for much of their research.

Still, the basic principles about how to succeed in college are eternal. Technological changes aside, here are five you need to follow.

1. Be “college material.”

Face it: if you had low grades all through high school because you hated doing the work and have always dreamed of spending your days up in a bulldozer, moving dirt, you had best skip college.

I could list a dozen other examples, but you get my point. Not everyone is academically gifted enough to succeed at college. Not everyone is called to a career or lifestyle that requires college.

You can, in fact, make a very good living without college if you have the ability to take initiative and be consistent and persistent with whatever work you choose.

So don’t just go to college because somebody filled with fear has told you that you will end up homeless without it. Not everyone is cut out for that kind of academic grind. Not every career requires it.

2. Apply for as many scholarships as you can.

If you’re a teenager, spend your weekends as a junior and senior in high school researching scholarships you might qualify for. Ask your parents to help.

If you’re an adult, do the same.

Apply for as many as you think you have even a small chance of getting – up to a hundred, if you can. When you apply for that many, you will get some money.

Why do I suggest this? I am not into people going into debt for the sake of a college education. And while I’m not against people working their way through college, it does take away from study time and can cause more stress than it’s worth.

If you can get at least part of your college costs covered with scholarships, you’ll have a better chance at succeeding because you will be able to focus on your classes and studies more.

3. Have an idea of what you want to do.

Know your innate gifts and talents, as well as the kind of work that intrigues you. To be successful in college, you need to be focused. Students who switch from one major to another end up wasting a lot of time and money.

Even if you do focus, you might change your mind later in life. I found that, although I’m a natural teacher, the educational system is too restrictive for children for my taste, and I had to leave the profession. But I did learn a lot along the way – both in college and, more so, in my experiences that followed – that has helped me in various areas of my life.

4. Keep your social life on the side.

If you are serious about learning how to be successful in college, you must adhere to this principle. A huge reason that many students fail after heading off to college is that they spend all their free time socializing, and little of it studying. Determine that your social life will be limited to meals and the weekends. Tell your friends that Sunday through Thursday evenings, and weekdays in between classes, you will devote to study.


5. Be the teacher’s pet.

Show up on time for your classes. Don’t skip unless you are truly seriously ill. Take thorough notes and ask questions when you don’t understand. Turn in assignments on time. If you make an appointment to talk to a professor, show up on time and be polite.

Now, I’ve heard that there are some colleges and universities where the only requirements to get a good grade are to show up for the tests and get good grades on them.

Question: why the *BLANK* are you spending tens of thousands of dollars every year to do something that you could do on your own? If that’s how things work in your choice of institution, may I suggest that the faculty there has exceedingly low expectations for its students and you would be better off spending your money somewhere else.

Or, you don’t really need to go to college to do what you want to do. You just need to do some independent studying while you get life experience.

If you are at least eighteen years old and need some foundational grounding in basic personal finance, I invite you to download your free copy of “The Money Monster.” But the money issue is only a small part of learning how to be successful in college. Keep the above principles in mind, put them into action, and you will do well.

To your success!


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