Most students find their undergraduate years both challenging and rewarding. Success can lead to a huge number of future opportunities, but finding that success is easier said than done. The combination of increased responsibilities, newfound freedom, and the difficulty of most undergraduate courses means that plenty of people have trouble doing well in their classes. Fortunately, academic success often comes down to mastering skills that help you to cope with the environment and your workload. Most of them require some practice, so it’s best to start with them as early as possible.
1- Get Enough Sleep
Undergraduates have a reputation for staying up all night. Doing that every now and then isn’t harmful, but making a habit out of it is dangerous. Scientists have found that there is a strong link between getting enough sleep and learning. People who skip their sleep have trouble remembering things. That leads to bad grades, which often leads to people staying up all night to study, which makes the problem worse. The best thing to do is to avoid the cycle entirely by getting six to eight hours of sleep every night.
2- Set Realistic Expectations
It’s easy to sabotage yourself by taking on more work than you can handle. It may seem like a good idea to join every interesting club and take on enough classes to graduate early, but most people can’t handle all of that. Spreading yourself too thin usually means doing poorly at everything, so it’s best to avoid it. Instead, most students should start slowly until they figure out how much they can handle at once. That allows you to perform at peak efficiency without sacrificing the quality of your work or overwhelming yourself with stress.
3- Master Time Management
Most undergraduates need to find time to deal with a dizzying number of tasks. Most classes have a huge number of projects and plenty of homework, but they still need to find enough time to deal with chores and relax enough to avoid going crazy. The stress that comes from balancing all of those concerns is a major problem for most undergraduates, and failing to find time for everything often leads to failure. The solution is to master time management. It can’t add any more time to the day, but it can ensure that you get the most out of every minute that you can.
4- Make Friends
A social support network can make the difference between success and failure. Friends can help to deal with stress, or even to deal with practical tasks when you are running out of time. Most people can make plenty of friends by joining an interesting club or two, but many universities also offer networking events for new students. Taking part in one or two of those events is a great way to meet people and build positive relationships. It may seem awkward, but all of the people who attend are going there for the same reason, so it really is a great way to meet new people.
5- Start Studying Early
Cramming is a mistake. It may be enough to get a passing grade on a single test, but it’s terrible for retaining information. It’s better to take some time to study and review every day instead of doing it all at once right before exams start. In addition to being better for learning, it helps to cut down on the panic and anxiety that can come with feeling unprepared for a test. It also gives you a chance to identify particularly difficult material while you still have time to master it.
6- Get Help
Universities usually offer plenty of help to their students. Tutoring, study centers, and office hours can all do a lot for people who need to understand challenging material. Relatively few students take advantage of those resources, but those who do tend to be the ones who perform at the top of their classes. Most of these resources take the form of regular sessions, so they’re also a valuable tool for people who have trouble adhering to a regular study schedule without support from a group that can keep them on the right track.