HOW TO BE A TOP STUDENT:
Suggestions for Success in College
by D'Lynn Waldron, B.A., summa cum laude, M.A., Ph.D., FRGS ©2010

1) Before you choose your classes, check out what previous students have had to say about the teachers, and read the teachers' biographies to see if there is someone you feel you can really connect with.

Don't be afraid to go for the great teachers. You will get the best value for your education dollar, and teachers who really know their subject tend to grade far more fairly than insecure teachers who grade hard.

Some of the finest teachers give introductory courses to interest students in their field. Such a teacher may light the path to your future.

2) Sign up for one more class than you plan to carry and drop the one that suits you least.

3) Start your term by finding out what papers will be required and what subjects the teacher prefers, and especially if there is a subject that can contribute to a research project the teacher is doing.

Combining your outside research with your teacher's opinions is usually the safest approach because some teachers do not welcome independent thinking in undergraduates. Really good teachers encourage students to do independent thinking, when it is supported by research.

Begin your term papers right away so you will be free later to study for the exams.

4) Take good notes in class and put margin notes and underlining in your text book to fix the material on your mind. (A well prepared text book by a good student can command a premium on campus when it is time to sell it.)

5) Prepare for tests with group study sessions where ideas are bounced around and questions snapped back and forth.

6) When taking a test, read the questions at least twice and consider what they are actually asking, not what you want to answer. Organize your time to complete the entire test. A perfect grade on the one essay you do in a three essay test is a total grade of 33%- which is failing. Be clear, concise, and anchored in facts. Handwriting that is legible makes the teacher more receptive to what you have to say.

7) When writing term papers, good grammar and proper spelling are essential, but also you must follow the form the teacher wants, including for footnotes. Your paper should look very nice and also feel very nice- 24 lb. paper with a silky smooth surface has a good subconscious effect.

8) My secret for getting through my degrees so fast was that I chose my doctoral dissertation topic early in my undergraduate years and every paper that I possibly could, I designed to be the basis for a chapter in my dissertation. (Those were the days before computer searches, and building up a bibliography was the keystone for writing a dissertation.)

9) Play to your strengths. If you enjoy and are good in a subject, that is a subject you should consider majoring in.

Everyone has areas in which they have a natural aptitude, and areas in which they cannot do well, no matter how hard they try. That is hardwired in our brains.

The so-called IQ tests measure only the ability to do that particular test. IQ tests do not measure most talents, skills, or even intellectual abilities, nor can they measure wisdom, creativity, kindness, and courage, or most of the other things that really matter in life.

Good luck in your studies, but more important, good luck in your life- Lynn