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Academic Success Programs
Tips on Becoming a Successful Student

Get Oriented!

  • Find your classrooms before the first day of classes!
  • Buy books. They are a requirement of the class, not an option.
  • Attend First Year Experience orientation and activities and get involved with other student activities and events to make contact with other students.
  • Find a friend. A friend can help alleviate "classroom shyness" and can also be a study partner or resource if you miss class and need help getting back up to speed.

Go to Class!

  • Sit in the "T-Zone" of the classroom. Instructors are more likely to notice your attendance.
  • Don't ask the professor "Do I need to buy the book?" or "Did I miss anything important?" These questions insult the professor and the class.
  • Go to class! Missed class means valuable time lost. Once behind, it is hard to catch up.
  • Go to class! Professors do take attendance into account. Missed classes can affect your grade. Always going to class and being on time is looked upon favorably and can often bring leniency in a time of need.
  • It is your responsibility to make up missed work and classroom notes.
  • Be prepared to learn--bring textbooks, paper, writing utensils, etc. to class.
  • Actively listen and take notes. It is statistically proven that you retain 20% more when writing down notes than merely listening to lectures.
  • Know your learning style. What's easy for one person may be hard for another. You decide how you learn best.
  • Save all items or documents that have something to do with your program of study. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. As long as the work is yours, it is not cheating.
  • Keep all important papers such as copies of Add/Drop forms and information from your instructors and advisor.
  • Don't underestimate the value of your class syllabus. Read and understand it. It's your contract for the class.


  • Don't be afraid to get help. Even excellent students need help at times.
  • Ask about and investigate student support services. FHSU offers a number of support services to help you free of charge. These include academic support, academic advising and career exploration, personal counseling and alcohol and drug counseling.
  • Take advantage of free tutoring. Academic Success Programs offers 45-minute time slots for free tutoring. Contact the Kelly Center to make an appointment.
  • If you are an online learner (student enrolled in only Virtual College courses), take advantage of "Smarthinking." Smarthinking provides online tutoring and writing services to students enrolled as online learners. For additional information on the services offered through Smarthinking, contact the Virtual College.
  • Don't just talk about getting help for your studies. Do it!

Balance Your Schedule!

  • Budget your time. Equilibrium must be obtained in balancing leisure activities, clubs and organizations, intramurals, studying, work and sleep. Check out our "Tips and Tools" section to learn more about ways to improve your time management skills.
  • Party all the time or study all the time…neither is a good balance. The former will not help you, and the latter does not guarantee success. Understand that being a student is a full-time job. For every hour of class time, the instructor expects 3 hours of study time…on your own.
  • Set measurable academic and personal goals each semester. A key difference between students who succeed and those who don't is that students who succeed have clearly defined goals.
  • Plan your future but don't ignore the present. The present creates who you are and contributes to social and personal growth.

Never Forget these Extra Tips!

  • Build a master calendar. With all of your life activities scheduled (work, classes, study time, practice, etc.), you will be able to see in advance and plan for two tests on one day, for example. You can be proactive rather than reactive in approaching your academic assignments. Check out our "Semester-at-a-Glance" calendar to help you organize your semester.
  • Get to know your professors and your advisor. It will prove useful later and you will become a face rather than a number.
  • Understand that the University has rules. Dropping and/or adding classes is a process that has guidelines, requirements and deadlines. Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in failing a class you only thought you dropped! Be sure you know your academic situation prior to the withdrawal from class deadline.
  • Honesty is a virtue. It is also a policy. Cheating is not tolerated in any class and is grounds for dismissal from the University. Plagiarism is a subcategory of cheating, and a term paper can be tested for authenticity via the internet.
  • Accept constructive criticism. Teachers and tutors are here to help you.
  • There is nothing wrong with being confused at first. Everyone experiences it. It is always better to ask questions than to remain confused.
  • Be patient with yourself. Make your own decisions. Advisors expect you to be prepared.
  • Remember, you are in school for your education, not for someone else's. If you feel that you are not sure you want to be here, ask yourself where you would like to be. If you are unsure of your major, consider career exploration. It's free. For more information contact the Academic Advising and Career Exploration Center.
  • Accept responsibility for yourself and your behavior. Only you can be responsible for you. Advisors are not miracle workers.
  • As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing." Successful students tend to be realistic and recognize that their success or failure is primarily determined by their efforts.
  • Not everyone graduates in four years. Take your time and enjoy college. Remember, if you switch majors, it may take longer to complete the required curriculum since not all courses transfer to other majors.
  • Don't whine. You'll be fine!
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