We have all heard the many tips that will help you be successful in school… Get at least 8 hours of sleep! Eat a healthy breakfast! Study more and go to class! And while all of those things are really important factors in the level of success you have in a class, we all get stuck in that one required class with the horrible professor who does not get us at all, and you could be doing all these things and still just not get it…
Well this is what I have learned to do since high school that has helped in all of my classes I have taken and am currently taking. And that is to be flexible.
Yup, you heard me. Remember those tests you did to determine what kind of learner you are? (Visual, auditory, etc.) Well some people like to aspire that one day we’ll be in this perfect world where all teachers will effectively be able to teach in a way that all their students will be able to learn. And while many high school teachers do fairly well with incorporating different styles of learning, college professors don’t live by those rules!
So my tip to you is to be flexible… flexible in how you learn and flexible in the type of work you present.
For example, I am a very visual learner. In classes that are solely lecture based, I have a really hard time listening and actually absorbing the information. So to fix that I take notes and even go a step beyond that and pull out all my highlighters and colored pens and use those to highlight and expand upon important information or definitions. I do not really have a system that I do that in, and by the end of class my paper looks like I let a toddler color over all my notes. But it helps me to retain information and also go back and study. I find it easier to pay attention to the different colors than I do just black words on white paper.
So take that and apply it to your situation. If you are a kinesthetic learner, bring a tennis ball to class and roll it around on the floor with your feet, your teachers should appreciate that you are making an effort to learn from their class. Auditory learners, ask if your teacher minds you recording the lectures on your phone for you to go back and listen to.
Earlier I mentioned that you also have to be flexible in the type of work you present. Use the first few assignments in a new class to figure out exactly what the teacher/professor expects of you, and tailor all your work for them, even if it is totally backwards from how you learned it.
When I took government, I had a lot of papers to write and the formatting she wanted them in, made no sense to how I had learned to format a paper previously. Even though to me, they were not very decent papers, I did them the way she wanted and did really well in that class as a result.
For another example, I took Intro to Communication my first semester of college, and every week or so we had to write a reading response over the chapter. It took me a while to figure out exactly what she was looking for in the reading responses, but I eventually did. It would then take me no time at all to write one because I knew what to include. Now I am in another communication class and we are again required to write reading responses every so often. Because both classes were in the same department, I knew the teachers were similar enough to require the same type of work.
This does not just apply to writing though, it also applies to tests and quizzes. Pay very close attention to the way things are formatted and worded on assessments because it will help you know exactly what to study for in the future.
Some professors will take questions exactly the way they are worded from the notes. Others will change up the wording but only take from the key concepts. In this situation, I make sure I understand the concept really well, so I will be able to see the answer no matter how it is worded.
I have never been a brainiac, but I have always been an A/B student. But not because I was just “born smart,” it is because I took the time and effort to make sure I am able to learn from the class and to learn my teachers. I encourage you to apply this concept to all your classes, especially the more difficult ones and see how it helps you!
Leave your tips for passing your classes below!