a graduate receiving his diploma

Follow my advice and that diploma will be yours!


College classes are hard. They demand that you read more, write more, hold more information in your head and confront more new ideas than you had to in high school. As you get closer and closer to heading off to college yourself, this fact is probably creeping up in your list of worries.

When I was a freshman, I had this same worry –especially after my first round of exams and essay assignments. I knew college was going to be a step up, but I didn’t understand how high of a step it would be.

You see, high school had been pretty easy for me. I was usually one of those kids who set the curve and was salutatorian at graduation. I had set a high bar for academic success and I wanted to succeed in college too. My friends, parents and former teachers expected me to succeed as well. Failure seemed like it was not an option.

Whether you were a straight-A student or not, we can all relate to the fear of failing at college, of disappointing your families, of becoming another statistic, of ruining your chance at a good career. But before you start down that slippery mental slope, know that there are steps you can take to succeed.

As a senior who has never come close to failing a class, I am proud to present my secrets to college success.

1. Go to Class and Participate

It seems like a no-brainer, but one basic key to college success is showing up to class every day. Even if you totally understand the subject matter, go to class. It doesn’t hurt to hear the concepts repeated in the lecture or get some hands on practice with in-class activities.

That being said, it isn’t enough to show up but spend the class browsing Facebook or Reddit– you have to participate as well. Really listening to your professor, taking notes and asking questions will help you get the most out of the class.

2. Do Your Homework Right Away

Let me say this straight out: being a procrastinator is NOT a badge honor. Staying up all night to finish a paper does not make you a hero— it only makes you sleep-deprived with a crappy paper to turn in the next day.

Instead, do your work early so you have enough time to create something of quality. Plus, by getting your work out of the way early, you can have all the fun you want over the weekend without worrying.

3. Study Without Distractions

We all think that we are great multi-taskers, but in reality we can only focus well on one thing at a time. So, when you are studying, make your textbooks the priority. For example, watching television and studying do not mix well.

Neither, in my experience, do beds and warm blankets (Hello, nap!). If you don’t like studying by yourself, by all means study with friends. But don’t let the discussion wander off-topic with roommate drama, stats about your favorite sports teams or the latest shows added to Netflix .

4. Get Help When You Need It

Maybe you want to figure everything out for yourself, but there is nothing wrong with getting help when you need it. Take advantage of the Writing Center and Tutoring Services, both of which are free of charge and open to walk-ins.

Tutors at the Writing Center can help you write a thesis and properly cite your sources while at Tutoring Services, you can get help with just about everything else from Anatomy/Physiology to Spanish to Organic Chemistry.

WSU also offers an on-campus health clinic with mental health counseling to students. If you aren’t taking care of yourself physically or mentally, then you can’t be at your best in the classroom.

I’ve used these services multiple times and it’s so convenient to get care right on campus. Last thing that you want to do when you’re feeling sick is trek across town to Winona Health or find a way to get back home to see a doctor.

Ok, so maybe these tips are not so secret. Nevertheless, they are tried and true tactics that can help you be ready to succeed in college. I know they have certainly worked for me!

Updated Feb. 14, 2019