It’s back to school time, so it seems timely to pass on some tips.
I did very well for myself in college, and had a good time in the process. I want to write down my best advice for college students before it is too far in my past to be relevant, so here it goes…
Know Your Professors
When you write a paper in college, you are writing for an audience of one. You aren’t doing it for your own pleasure, you are writing to make your professor believe that you have a head on your shoulders.
What I recommend you do is take notes on your professor (as well as the course).
If you have a notebook, reserve the first page. If you take notes on a laptop, have a dedicated document.
What you want to do is take notes about your professor’s likes, dislikes, specialties, and biases. You should review the notes before writing a paper.
More often than not, professors want you to reiterate their ideas and beliefs. If you want to work hard for your grade, feel free to contradict, but make sure you know what you are doing.
Knowing your professor’s area of expertise is vital. Unless you are deeply interested in the subject, never write a paper on your professor’s area of expertise. It’s a surefire way to have your work torn to shreds. If you really like the professor or the subject, you will learn more writing within her/his expertise, but it’s going to be tough to earn an A.
Learning how to write for a specific audience is one of the most important lessons you can learn in college, and it will always be a useful skill.
Make Sure Your Professors Know You
If you are in a small class, this isn’t an issue.
If you are in a big school with lectures of more than 30 students, there’s a good chance that your professor won’t know who you are unless you go out of your way to make sure they know you.
You want your professors to know you because they will give you the benefit of the doubt.
About three weeks into the semester, go to your professor’s office hours and ask a couple questions. You can ask questions you already know the answer to, the point is to show interest. You should repeat this process again sometime before the semester ends. If your professor can call you by name in class, then you’ve done your job.
This comes in handy if you need to miss class, actually don’t understand something, or need advice. It is also useful when graduation nears and you need letters of recommendation.
Don’t Buy a Mesh Garbage Can
It’s really screwed up that places like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target sell mesh garbage cans in their back to school sales.
If you purchase a mesh garbage can, there will come a night that you regret that decision on a very deep level.
Learn To Write Well
The world is filled with poor writers.
If you can learn to write moderately well, it will guarantee you better grades in any class that involves writing.
Writing skills are practical skills. They will help you succeed in any field.
Learn Public Speaking Skills
If you can verbally express yourself with poise and confidence, people will assume that you know what’s going on.
This doesn’t end after graduation either.
Make Friends Who Are Smarter Than You
Surround yourself with people who are successful, and challenging; they will push you to excel.
Make Sure You Want To Be There
If you only want to have a good time, you might want to find a party that doesn’t have a $45,000 a year cover charge.
Go to college when you are ready, study something you enjoy, and don’t take on debt that will haunt you. If you aren’t going into a high-paying profession, go to a public university. Graduating $140,000 in debt when you can only earn $30,000 a year is completely moronic.
Get Some Professional Experience
Academics can only get you so far.
Don’t allow yourself to graduate without practical experience, and contacts in your chosen profession.
College should be an adventure.
Have a good time, do some stupid things, see the inside of an ambulance, just make sure you are alive at the end. It’s also preferable to graduate without a criminal record.
Backup Your Computer
No one wants to rewrite lost papers. Always backup your work.
Practice safe computing.