by Rachel Navarro, Brown Graduate
Read, read, read: You will be doing a lot of reading and you won’t get months to finish a novel; you sometimes get three days. During the same week you might also have a ten page paper due, a 50 page chapter to read, and an exam to study for. Start reading daily for at least one hour a day. Vary what you read (newspaper, classical literature, autobiographies, etc.).
Take notes: Find a style that works for you and start practicing now. Don’t just take notes and forget about them. You have to review them frequently.
Develop study skills: Do not study in your room; there are too many distractions. Go to a quiet place and study in chunks of time (20 -50 minute time periods). Take breaks, but not more than 10 minutes. Unless you can handle it, don’t study too late at night.
Form study groups: Get to know the people in your classes; they are your best references before any exam. Prepare before meeting; come with questions. If you don’t, you will tend to socialize and not get very much studying done.
Know what resources are available: These were the things/people that helped me survive Brown. You want to know if, and where, the following things/people exist: tutors, writing center, peer advisors, and academic deans/professors.
Learn how to analyze: You will not be given questions or worksheets with every novel or article you read for class. You will be expected to read the assignment and have questions, comments, and notes to discuss in class. Many professors, especially in English classes, base a majority of your grade on participation.
Don’t procrastinate: In college you can’t write a paper the day before it’s due and still get an A! You have to make sure you know when major assignments are due and work on them a little at a time. Rank your classes and spend time on the most challenging one every day.
Develop your writing skills: I always got A’s on my papers in high school. Unfortunately my A papers met with a lot of red ink in college. It’s important for you to always keep going back to your writing. Have other teachers read your essays and tell you what they think. Even if your teacher gave you an A, ask what areas you could still improve. In college, use your writing center. These places have people trained to help in every part of the writing process. Ask your professors if they would be willing to comment on a draft, before your assignment is due (make sure it is a good draft).
Talk to your professors: This might sound like brown nosing, but it can be very effective. Find out your professors’ office hours and make it a point to visit with them at least every other week. Come with questions on upcoming assignments or things you are finding difficult. Professors will remember you and will feel more apt to help you succeed in the class. This will come in handy when you start applying for jobs or grad school and need recommendations.
Have a balance: Like high school, you want to find a balance between academics and your social life. If you study hard during the day, you can find time to relax in the evenings. Accept that you can’t be involved in every club or sport available in college. Join only one that you feel very passionate about. Finally, find a good group of friends that are going to support you.