Best Practices for Student Success

Important Tips for Student Success

Show up: This means attend class--every class. When an instructor outlines an absence policy in his/her syllabus, it is intended for those unexpected emergencies that may occur during the semester. This does NOT mean that a student gets to miss a few class sessions and then will "get off" by providing a good excuse when they miss additional classes. If you register for a class that meets on Fridays from 11:30 a.m. - 12:25 p.m., do not schedule to leave for the weekend, your annual dental cleaning, oil change, etc., for this time period.

Be Punctual: In addition to showing up to every class - show up on time. Attempt to be in the assigned room a minimum of 5 minutes before class is scheduled to begin. In addition to relieving stress of settling in for the learning experience, punctuality shows the instructor and your peers that you respect their time and effort. Chronic tardiness is disruptive and rude.

Prepare: Attend each class session and be prepared. This means doing all readings, writing all assigned papers, completing all assignments and making an effort to comprehend the material. If you do not comprehend the assigned material, be prepared to discuss what you did not understand. This, however, does not mean to monopolize the class with questions; if you find yourself taking an excessive amount of time having ideas clarified, arrange to meet with the instructor at a later time. Preparedness includes respecting due dates for assignments and submitting written work on-time, complete, and in the format outlined by the instructor.

Plan: Plan your semester ahead. Rare is the student who is so brilliant that they can write a 10 page paper the night before and expect a passing grade. Instructors are very smart people and not only can they tell how much effort goes into an assignment, they have been around long enough to have seen all the tricks. It is very unlikely you will come up with something new. Trust us, you're not that clever.

Don't cheat: It saddens us that we even have to say it, but we do. As stated above, instructors are smart people and can usually spot a plagiarized paper or a cheat a mile away. MTSU is committed to providing all of our students with the highest quality education and the University has very strict guidelines regarding academic integrity. The penalties for violations of academic integrity are severe, and not worth the risk of dismissal from the program. To review the Middle Tennessee State University policy on academic integrity, click here.

Common Mistakes Students Make

  1. Not attending class
  2. Procrastinating - Click here for tips.
  3. Not spending enough time studying (for every 1 hour in class, should study 2-3 hours outside of class)
  4. Not taking notes
  5. Not completing assignments
  6. Not asking questions when something is unclear
  7. Not getting help soon enough
  8. Not answering questions fully on homework and tests
  9. Not taking responsibility for themselves
  10. Being passive

Best Study Practices

  1. Read assigned texts/handouts
  2. Don’t procrastinate
  3. Pay attention to the organization of the text
  4. Highlight key points/terms in text as you read
  5. Review often!
  6. Study with a study group
  7. Get help before it’s too late
  8. Do homework assignments
  9. Make an outline or take notes of your reading
  10. Set aside a quiet place to study with few distractions

Best Things to Do in Class to Succeed

  1. Ask questions and participate
  2. Take notes that you can understand
  3. Attend class!
  4. Pay attention (turn off cell phone)
  5. Come prepared
  6. Sit where you can see and hear the instructor
  7. Tell instructor if you are having trouble with the way he/she is teaching
  8. Get to know the instructor (go to office hours)
  9. Read applicable text before class so you know what to expect
  10. Eat well and get enough sleep

Survival Tips for Your First Year of College and Beyond to Graduation

  1. Attend the first day of each class. Attending the first day of each is vitally important. You will learn the format of the class and expectations from your professors about what to expect in the class, tests, assignments and due dates. Avoid the temptation to skip class.
  2. Don’t procrastinate. Prioritize your life. In high school, it may have been easy to wait until the last minute to complete homework assignments and still get a good grade. That will not work in college. Give yourself deadlines and stick to them. Many professors will not accept late assignments or allow extra credit.
  3. Meet and get to know your academic advisor. Your advisor is key resource for you and should be the person you seek for any academic issues. This is the person who will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling classes for future semesters, deciding on majors and minors. If you do not click with your first assigned advisor, don’t be afraid to request another one. Your future is at stake.
  1. Find the best place to study. For every 1 hour in class, you should study 2-3 hours outside of class. Your ideal place to study may be your dorm room or a cozy place in the library. What is important is to find a place that works best for you to get your work done while avoiding as many distractions as possible. 
  1. Get to know your professors. There are only positives to getting to know your professors. Schedule a time to meet with them, Professors schedule office hours for the sole purpose of meeting with students. Take advantage of that time. They want to help you to be successful!
  1. Strive to make the best grade possible. You may have been able to “glide” through and good grade could have come naturally for you in high school. You will have to earn them in college! You should set goals for yourself and make sure that you work as hard as you can to achieve them.
  1. Get organized. In high school, teachers tend to lead you through homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments—often for the entire semester--and expect you to meet them. Buy an organizer, big wall calendar, post it notes, PDA, or whatever it takes for you to know and submit assignments when they are due.
  1. Seek professional help when you need it. If you are feeling sick, isolated, or depressed, please take advantage of the resources that MTSU has to offer. Both a Health Services and Counseling Center are available to you so that you do not have to face these issues by yourself.
  2. Make connections with students in your classes. Meeting at least one new person in each class will expand your network of friends and can be an excellent resource at times if you have to miss a class.
  1. Take advantage of the study resources on campus. Take advantage of the learning labs and tutors that are available on campus. If you are having troubles, these resources are another good tool that is available to you. Another good idea is to form study groups, if it works for you.

10 Tips for Student Success on College Exams

  1. Study smart and not hard. One week before the exam, ask your instructor for the topics that will be covered on the test. Give yourself plenty of time to study. The important key is to understand the topics and not just memorize it. By understanding it well, you will tend to remember it better.
  2. Manage your time
  3. Get sufficient amount of sleep
  4. Read questions carefully and follow instructions
  5. Bring appropriate test tools to include pen/pencil, paper, sometimes calculator, etc.
  6. Don’t worry if others finish before you
  7. Ask instructor for clarification if you don’t understand something on the test.
  8. Don’t get stressed, frustrated or worried
  9. Have a good and positive attitude
  10. Review, review, review 

For MTSU Students by MTSU Students: Tips that are Important for First-Time Freshmen to Succeed

  1. Time Management
  2. Attendance is absolutely necessary
  3. Get involved!
  4. Perseverance. If you don’t understand that college takes a lot of work then more than likely you will not be as successful. College is a test of one’s perseverance and drive to stay committed and succeed
  5. How the college works, the expectations, and hard work
  6. Choose your classes according to the type of person you are
  7. Work hard and focus on making good grades
  8. Study in a way that works for you
  9. Know how to manage time effectively
  10. You must study
  11. Manage your time
  12. You must study and go to class
  13. To realize that it isn’t like high school, where you can often glide through with little effort. You have to be very proactive in college 

Sources:  MTSU Students in University Seminar (UNIV1010) – Section 003, Spring 2010 | TRIO Student Support Services, Northwest College, WY |  Rutgers at Brookdale Community College, NJ

Office of Student Success
Peck Hall, Room 142
P. O. Box 500
615-494-8650

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