Jan. 22, 2015


I’ve had several of my students tell me they wished they had gotten this advice BEFORE college. Now I am well aware that not everyone will agree with all of these suggestions, but they are something to consider.

  1. For how many hours should you enroll? Most students, even Juniors and Seniors in college, tell me 12 hours is optimum. WRONG. The reason they say this is that that is what is required for a “full load” to get their funding. Sadly, this means they CAN’T graduate in four years, CAN’T afford to drop a class, and never face a true “workload”.  Students should enroll in at least 15 hours so that they CAN DROP a class. If they can handle the classes after seeing the professor and material it will accelerate their graduation. (I suggest 18 hours).

  2. Which is best one, two, or three hour classes? This depends on your college standing.

    1. As a GENERAL rule you should take a one hour, three day a week class for all fundamental classes where new terminology and concepts are introduced. Or where you have math problems to learn the procedures. This allows you to take one small bite at a time.

    2. For theoretical courses or “team” oriented classes the three hour once a week class gives you time to discuss and the week to do research.(usually Junior/Senior level classes)

    3. For classes that are extensions of material you have learned e.g. “Retailing” after you took “Marketing” then the twice a week one and one-half hour classes are fine.

    4. Consider the course. I used to schedule any math or statistics courses for three days a week for small bites. Reading intensive courses were twice a week. Theoretical or research classes were prime meat for a Saturday if they were offered.

  3. How can I graduate sooner? A little obvious, do more. Some classes are “crib” courses. Some evenings are just dead time. Some weekend hours are dead time.

    1. Consider 18 hours.

    2. Examine the schedule for night classes.

    3. NEVER ignore weekend classes.

    4. For evening and weekend classes remember that you will be attending with mostly older professionals, will gain more insight into real life issues.

  4. How do I get all the assignments done? As I told my students, always keep in mind “PRIORITIES,PRIORITIES,PRIORITIES”. If your classes are over at 3pm then schedule your time. Go to the dorm, take a shower, and begin. Schedule three hours for work, minimum, each day. LET NOTHING CHANGE YOUR STUDY SCHEDULE. Even if you are to meet with other students to cram at 8pm. Use YOUR time to get ahead. Think about it. Most Girls and Many guys won’t be at the local watering hole until the band gets there anyway, you can study, get ahead, and still PARTY.

  5. Do I need a laptop or tablet?  NO, you not don’t need a laptop or tablet but in many cases it is self defeating. You can’t possibly keep good notes on one because the average professor is going to be moving too fast. You are going to be lugging a 6 pound lead weight from class to class along with your books which may be dropped, stolen, or lost. So what should you do? Suggestion, get a GREAT “all in one”for the dorm. Then fill it with the best software that matches your disciplines software. E.g. SPSS for statistical analysis in business. The machine is only as good as the software you have on it. NEXT, go out and buy six good flash drives and a carrying case. Write your notes in class using the Cornell note taking method. After or between classes go to the lab and type a beautiful set of notes adding whatever you need to remember the material. (redundancy in learning) Then when you get back to the dorm transfer the notes to your nice big screen “all in one” so you can study in private.

  6. Someone says, “I need the laptop/tablet for my books”. Well, if you truly believe you can study as well without a “hard copy” you don’t need to be reading these suggestions. An e-book is not designed to facilitate study and after all why are you in college if not to study. Buy old, ratty, ugly used books and mark them up, scribble on them, etc. BUT GET TEXTBOOKS.

  7. How do I keep motivated over “Summer break”?  Easy, don’t take one. You want to graduate on time. You don’t want to burn out. Well, Summer courses are usually more laid back and WHY ARE YOU IN COLLEGE? Take several summer courses. The load will be significantly lighter and will eat up credits to allow you to graduate earlier. Also, in the summer you will usually have fellow students who truly want to graduate.

  8. How can I keep my grades up? There is a plethora of methods to help with grades but I’m going to give you the two most effective.

    1. First, understand that the first two years of college are referred to as “learning the language of the art”. What that means is that if you were to take all the “key words” in your text and truly examine them and know the definition you could hold a “B” in every Freshman and Sophomore class. Any question the professor throws at you will revolve around your understanding of those words.  (Will also aid you greatly later on when things become more theoretical and applicative)

    2. Second, and probably the most important. You are only one person with one mind. Immediately, begin to form study teams. You can have several different teams or if you are close knit one team that agrees to block classes together. In any case, study with them at least twice a week to help each other understand concepts and support one another. (I went through college teamed with a person I absolutely hated; but they were brilliant and we knew we could help each other) Don’t always meet in the same place, everyone needs variety. BUT, if you find a place, McDonalds, dorm, House, etc. that seems to be “comfortable” use THAT PLACE for crunch time studying.  Always do your studying over time. I used to refuse to participate in “over nighters”. If you have been working together and studying on an ongoing basis you don’t need an over nighter to cram for an exam.


  9. What about the expense of College? Folks, expense is your option. Yale or community college first two years? Away from home or live at home? New or used books? New car or motor scooter? (easier to get around campus) Impressive clothes and electronics or jeans and a trac-phone? It’s funny; in the 70’s College students wore rags and made ketchup soup, now they want their kids to have everything while in college. I’ve seen students wearing $600 outfits, with a brand new I-phone and I-pad, driving a one year old car, renting a condo with their friends, carrying 12 hours, taking the summer off,  and telling me that college was too expensive.