Tips for Campus Success

Packing up all your belongings and leaving the nest can be both exhilarating and scary. Whatever your approach to going away to school it’s important to start your academic career off on the right foot. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind. 

Go with Debit, Not Credit

A 2001 study commissioned by the federal government’s Millennium Scholarship Foundation found that four out of ten students have accumulated debt on their credit cards, with 24 per cent of those carrying credit card debts up to $500, and 19 per cent carrying more than $2,500. Since you’re likely graduating with student loans to repay, why would you also want to be saddled with credit card debt at 18 per cent or higher interest? Here’s an easy way to avoid it. You need to establish credit, so go ahead and get a credit card. Then use it once for a purchase, pay off the bill immediately, and cut the card up. At the same time, get a debit card that looks like (but doesn’t act like) a credit card. In other words, you can’t spend more than you have in your account. Just make sure you track your debit expenses, or you’ll find yourself paying some hefty fines in overcharges to the bank.

Check Out Student Housing In Person

If you look at the university websites, the residences all look quite palatial. The problem is, universities often have one palatial residence and many others that aren’t. Take a tour, and talk to students currently living there about the pros and cons of the living arrangement and the type of students who tend to choose it. Will you absolutely die of embarrassment if you don’t have a private bathroom? Is a single-gender dorm important to you? If the dorm is co-ed, does that mean there will be boys on the same floor or just in the same building? Does the residence have a quiet-hour policy to encourage studying? The more carefully you think through these issues, the happier you’ll be.

Talk To Your Roommate Before September

Most middle-class kids today have never shared a room-until they hit university. So the idea of living with someone else’s mess, smells, and personality in a room the size of your closet back home can be, well, quite disconcerting. So try to meet in person if possible. If that’s not possible before school starts, set up a phone call, not an instant messaging conversation. If, after meeting or talking over the phone, you really think you and your roommate are oil and water, by all means contact the university to find out about getting a new roommate.

Set Study Time

Assuming college is an extension of high school is a big mistake. Many students aren’t prepared for the quantity and complexity of college work and rely on their high school study habits to get by. A good rule of thumb: Spend twice as much time studying for a course each day as you spend in that class. If you need help with study skills, contact your university’s academic support office right away. Don’t wait until you’re mired in midterms.

Bond with Your Agenda

Lack of time management skills has to be the biggest contributor to failure. Go through your course outlines and map out the commitments in your agenda, whether papers or tests. Pay attention to the marks allocation. Then block out the time needed to meet those commitments.

Buy Books

Do you have any idea how much reading is required in university? If you think you’re going to check out the book from the library and save a few bucks, think again. You’ll quickly fall behind on your reading assignments and your grades will suffer. Instead, search out bargains online and from students who already took the class.

Don’t Cut Class…

We know, we know: you slept in or you wanted to party with some new friends or you simply didn’t feel like listening to your economics professor drone on about supply and demand. But here’s the thing: the single most important thing you can do to ensure success at university is attend classes faithfully. Think this sounds obvious? Consider that something like 80 per cent of all students skip one class or more a week.

…Or, At Least Skip Smart

If you’re going to skip the occasional class, that’s your business. But always attend the class that’s just before a test as well as review sessions (if they’re at another time). This is when you’ll get the best hints about the content of the test. Always ask the instructor to get as specific as possible about the material that will be covered.

Party Right

If your calendar holds more party dates than class dates, you’re overdoing it. But, if your idea of a hot Saturday night is when the air conditioning breaks in the library, you’re under-doing your social life. You can’t have the ultimate college experience if you never get out of your room. So find activities you enjoy beyond schoolwork-just keep it all in perspective.

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