Tips for Success

Top 10 Tips for a Successful Semester

10. Go to all classes and take notes. This may seem obvious, but it may be tempting to catch up on sleep, finish up the paper that's due today, etc. Attendance in class is key to good time management!

9. Arrive at class on time or early. Give yourself time to get in the right mind set for each of your classes (topic and course type). It helps to spend a few minutes going over your notes from the previous class meeting.

8. Sit front and center in class... easier to do if you're early (see #9)! You'll listen longer and better and will be more likely to participate, even in a large class.

7. Review your notes and graded work frequently. Don't just toss your homework or papers aside after they are returned to you; they are valuable learning tools. The more you review, the better your recall.

6. Keep up with the reading. Another obvious one, but allow yourself enough time in your schedule to thoroughly read your assignments. Tip: It's more effective if you break up long readings rather than trying to do it in one sitting.

5. Familiarize yourself with available resources. This is only the beginning! Help rooms, tutors, librarians, and many other services abound on campus...

4. Get to know your instructors; they are perhaps your best resource in each of your classes. Office hours are meant for you; try them and see!

3. Form study groups. Kicking information around with classmates gets your mind working in new ways. Give yourself time to chat for the first five minutes, then agree to stay on task. Tip: Check with your instructors to be sure what kind of collaboration is acceptable in each of your classes.

2. Reward yourself for getting your work done. Celebrate your accomplishments and you may even look forward to your "worst" assignment!

1. Cultivate a positive attitude. Your attitude makes the difference in every setting. Figure out how you will benefit from every academic opportunity — sometimes the "big picture" approach comes in handy!


The University of Kansas Office of New Student Orientation. New Student Orientation Manual. Lawrence, KS: The University of Kansas Printing Services, 1993.

Van Blerkom, Dianna L. College Study Skills: Becoming a Strategic Learner. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1994.

Additional Tips

(Adapted from the Academic Summer Program 2007 Muses and Becoming a Master Student, 11th edition)

Time Management

  1. Schedule fixed blocks of time first.
  2. Include time for errands.
  3. Schedule time for fun.
  4. Set realistic goals.
  5. Allow flexibility in your schedule.
  6. Study two hours for every hour in class.
  7. Avoid scheduling marathon study sessions.
  8. Set clear starting and stopping times.
  9. Plan for the unexpected.
  10. Prioritize tasks before scheduling them.

Class Notes

  1. Use key words.
  2. Use pictures and diagrams.
  3. Use only one side of a piece of paper.
  4. Keep your own thoughts separate.
  5. Label, number, and date all notes.
  6. Use standard abbreviations.
  7. Take notes in different colors.
  8. Determine the main concept(s) of the lecture.
  9. Copy material from the board.
  10. Edit and review your notes within 24 hours.


  1. Before you read, preview the entire assignment.
  2. While you read reflect on what you already know about this subject.
  3. Use highlighting to monitor your comprehension.
  4. After you read, recite the material to yourself.
  5. Read with a dictionary in your lap.
  6. Set a time limit.
  7. Move your eyes faster.
  8. Look for essential words.
  9. Take notes on your reading.
  10. Find out what the professor wants you to get out of the reading.

Test taking

  1. Write up your own questions and take this "test" several times before the actual exam.
  2. Ask the instructor what to expect.
  3. Look for possible test questions in your notes.
  4. Form a group study.
  5. For multiple-choice questions answer each question in your head first.
  6. Read all possible answers before selecting.
  7. Use time drills.
  8. Analyze before you compute.
  9. List what you already know and what you want to find out.
  10. Pay attention to the directions given for the test.


  1. Read each syllabus carefully. Your professor put a lot of time into writing it.
  2. Go to professors' office hours or make an appointment (if there's a schedule conflict).
  3. Get to know the instructor better.
  4. Submit professional work.
  5. Accept criticism.
  6. Use conference time effectively.
  7. Attend each class and take notes carefully. Professors spend a lot of time preparing for class lectures.
  8. Separate liking from learning.
  9. Don't be afraid to see a professor if you are having trouble. Professors will be expecting you.
  10. Ask questions during office hours if you don't understand material.


  1. Make sure you understand the assignment before you start writing.
  2. Know what your thesis or main argument is.
  3. Stop to think about the "so what?" question while developing an argument.
  4. Start writing. Even if it is not exactly how you want it to be, just get over that blank screen or page.
  5. Stay in one tense throughout an essay.
  6. Be creative—don't be afraid to assert new ideas or different analysis than your professor's.
  7. Try to be clear in your writing. Try to say exactly what you mean, not just what sounds "smart."
  8. Read your paper aloud. If it doesn't make sense when you say it, it probably won't make sense to someone reading it.
  9. Make a writing fellow appointment early. The spots fill up quickly because they are helpful.
  10. Proofread and edit. It can never hurt to look at the paper one more time.

Science and Math

  1. Never skip classes.
  2. Pay attention in class and take good notes.
  3. Review your notes after every class.
  4. Do practice problems and extra problems from the book everyday.
  5. Study with somebody—although do your own work.
  6. Ask questions about anything that you don't understand as soon as possible.
  7. Make note cards for terms, equations, etc after every class.
  8. Understand the material, don't just memorize.
  9. Don't stay up late studying for an exam the night before—get some rest and be relaxed.
  10. Don't give up; with practice you will definitely get it