My Tips For Academic Success: Part I


I still remember my dad’s response to me when my third-grade self whined about how hard long division was. He bluntly said, “You wouldn’t be learning anything if it wasn’t hard.” And he was right.

Illinois has challenged me academically from day one and still does to this day — both inside and outside my major courses. Through the struggles, I have learned a lot about how to learn — hence this being only part one of this series! I hope these tips help you do your best at Illinois this fall.


Listen to your professors and TAs’ advice about how to do well in their class

I can almost guarantee that during the first week of class, not only will your professors and TAs go over the syllabus, but they will also give you tips on how to do the best that you can in their class. The people who teach your class know a few things about what strategies work for their best students. Don’t brush off their advice!

Put in 100% effort – if you get 100% so be it

The extreme stress that will result if you pressure yourself to be perfect will hinder your learning more than help you. Accept that you will not be perfect — no one is. Comparison is pointless; in every class there will be students who struggle with the subject more than you and students who find it a piece of cake. You need to compare yourself to you. Are you doing the most you can to learn your best?

Enjoy what you are learning!

No one says studying has to be torture. If it feels this way to you, it might be time to do some serious reflection on if you are in the right major. Need advice on choosing a major? Check out the post I wrote last week. Loving your major classes but your gen eds feel like they are pulling your teeth out? Check out my advice on how to make your gen ed classes more than worth your while.

Sit in the front…No, seriously.

I only took my own advice starting this year as a senior, but I can’t begin to tell you how much of a difference it makes in terms of how much I get out of each lecture. When your professor is making eye contact with you personally, you will definitely not be checking your email or texting or letting your eyes droop (hey, it happens to the best of us). Another plus? The time really goes faster when you are completely absorbed in the subject.

… And while you’re sitting in front, introduce yourself to the professor before or after class

Class automatically is better when you see your professor as more of someone who could be your next door neighbor instead of someone who is intimidating. Don’t worry, they will be happy to meet you too! Just think – if you were them, wouldn’t you like to know some faces in the sea of people you are talking to?


Please note that comments close after 90 days.


March 27, 2010, 1:35 pm

can’t wait to see part 2! 🙂
They’re useful tips! Thanks a lot!