Knowing Your Limits
You will always have that one semester where you (foolishly) decided to take 18 credits. During that semester, you will grow a beard the size of bin Laden's because you will never have time to shave. It is important to know how many credits you can handle in one semester. For some students, they can handle an 18-credit semester, while others can handle no more than 14. The last thing you need to is to take too many classes and end up doing poorly in classes that are considered cakewalks.
Going to Class
You may think this is a no-brainer, but there are many things that factor into going to class that play a key role in your final grade. The most important thing is to sit towards the front of a lecture hall. There is a tendency for students sitting in a back to hold side discussions, distracting themselves and other students from the lecture. Also, there is always a student surfing the web on God knows what site. (Let's keep it G-rated and say Facebook.) Plain and simple, there are too many distractions in the back of lecture halls, and it is really hard to key in on what the professor is saying.
Another equally important point is scheduling your classes in a manner that suits you. If you are not sure you will wake up for the 8 AM Calculus class you signed up for, then don't take it! Schedule classes in the afternoon if it is going to be a struggle to get up early in the morning. The last thing you need is to not show up to a class and have your grade suffer because of that.
Going to the Professor's Office
There is a stigma associated with professors: most seem to be very unapproachable, but they are not. If you see yourself struggling with something in a class, don't hesitate to seek help from your professor. If you are consistently going to a professor's office, chances are they might grade your exams more leniently. Also, if you are on the borderline of the next highest grade, professors will most likely raise the grade if they see a student working hard.
Regarding old exams, two words: GET THEM! Old exams are critical, and they play a key role in test-taking. Some professors use the same questions from older exams on new exams. Even if professors don't use the same questions from old exams on new exams, old exams tend to be very similar to newer exams. Getting them can be a little problematic, but the best way to go about that is to ask students within the class or ask friends if they have taken the same class before or if they know anyone that has done so. A rule of thumb regarding old exams: don't let your professors know that you have them! Even though most universities don't have a policy regarding old exams, some professors get mad if they find out that their students have them. We must point out if your university has a policy against old exams, then we suggest you don't use them.
The most effective study groups are composed of three to four students. It is important when forming a study group that the group consists of hardworking and dedicated students. The last thing a student needs is peers who simply want to use study time for socializing. In doing that, students' precious time is wasted. Study groups are important because they allow a student to pick up on points that may have been missed during a lecture. Also, if you struggle to understand a concept, then there will be three students ready to help you.
The transition to college can be a bit challenging, but it is also a great experience. In short, just remember to be sensible, don't slack off…and that Dean's List is waiting for you!