Not sure how to succeed in college and make the most out of your educational journey? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. College life can be a whirlwind of new experiences, and it’s totally normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. 

Navigating the college experience and thriving academically involves not just attending classes and studying. It also requires tapping into a wide range of resources that are designed to support you on your journey. From academic assistance to personal well-being and career development, these resources are the pillars of support you need to make sure you not only survive but thrive during these formative years. 

So read on to explore some essential resources available to you as a student, each playing a vital role in improving your college experience and setting you up for success.

What is thriving in college? defines ‘thriving’ as prospering or being highly successful. So for a college student, thriving could mean being fully involved intellectually, socially and emotionally in the college experience.

When a student is thriving, they experience social and psychological well being. This adds to their persistence towards completing their education and graduation, allowing them to make the most of their college experience. 

If you’re wondering how to be successful in college and why it is important to do so, read on for some tips. 

Succeeding in college is not just a personal goal; it is a stepping stone for you to build a bright future. The years you spend in college will serve as a foundation to build a solid and financially stable career. In these years, you will set out to achieve your college goals by acquiring valuable knowledge, honing essential skills, and building lifelong connections with like-minded peers. Success in college goes beyond earning good grades as it includes personal growth, self-discovery, and learning crucial life skills. 

We live in a competitive world and, as a student, it’s vital you gain the ability to succeed in college as well as equip yourself with the tools you need to thrive in your career. Here are some tips that can set you up for success in college:

  1. Time Management: Create a weekly schedule that allocates time for classes, studying, and personal activities. Make the most of tools like calendars or apps to stay organized.
  1. Study Smart: Instead of cramming, break down and spread your study sessions over time. You could try techniques like flashcards, practice solving problems, and summarizing to reinforce your learning.
  1. Stay Organized: Use a planner or digital tools to keep track of assignments, exams, and project due dates. Being organized helps you avoid last-minute rushes.
  1. Get Involved: Join clubs, student organizations, or sports teams. These activities not only enhance your college experience but also help you develop leadership and teamwork skills.
  1. Seek Help: If you’re struggling with coursework, don’t hesitate to reach out to professors during office hours or utilize tutoring services. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  1. Healthy Habits: Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and ensure you get enough sleep. These habits are crucial for maintaining physical and mental well-being.
  1. Set Goals: Define clear academic and personal goals for each semester. Knowing what you’re working towards can keep you motivated and focused.
  1. Network: Building relationships with peers, professors, and professionals can open up opportunities for internships, research, and future careers.
  1. Stay Motivated: College can be challenging, but remembering why you’re there and visualizing your long-term goals can help you stay motivated during tough times.
  1. Balance Work and Play: While it’s important to focus on academics, make sure to allocate time for relaxation and socializing. A balanced life can reduce stress and prevent burnout.

To balance your college and personal life, you need to set a routine that can help you excel academically, while also leaving enough time for extracurriculars and socializing. Let’s explore how you can maintain this balance.

  1. Start By Setting Long Term Goals

How do you set long term goals? Start by translating your vision into an action plan. Action plans help split large goals into smaller, bite-size accomplishments. This way, those large goals feel more approachable, giving you the opportunity to check in with yourself along the way.

One method to break down long-term goals into short-term plans is to create SMART goals. SMART stand for:

  • Specific: Identifying your task
  • Measurable: Determining how you would measure your goal
  • Achievable: Creating realistic goals that you could possibly control
  • Relevant: Focusing on goals that will guide you toward your success 
  • Time-bound: Setting a deadline for yourself to stay on track.

SMART goals can help you stay focused on achieving your ultimate goal in a manageable way. So, if your long-term goal is to earn your college degree, consider the individual requirements you’ll need to meet in order to complete and earn your degree.

Implementing this strategy to break down your ultimate goal into achievable targets will not only help you succeed in college, but also help you succeed professionally in the future.

2. Prioritize Faculty Office Hours

Take your relationship with your professors and advisors one step further by attending office hours. Find professors and academic advisors who set aside some hours from their schedule for students to clarify confusing concepts, discuss areas of improvements, or offer advice on future career objectives.

  • Academic advisors – Most campuses have academic advisors that can help you navigate your educational journey. It’s possible that you might be facing difficulties with the admission process, course registration and selection, program planning, degree completion, scholarships or other college related matters. In that case, it’s best to seek your academic advisor’s advice, so that they can help you find the right solutions to your problems.
  • Tutoring – Having troubles understanding a complex concept or drafting a compelling essay for your next assignment? Feel free to contact your in-house college tutor. College tutors can help you learn study material in individual courses and also help build the skill set needed to succeed in college. Tutors can offer specific guidance and instruction that can help you understand your subjects better and become independent learners. Sometimes, they also offer instruction to develop study skills such as effective reading, note-taking, test-taking, and understanding how to use a syllabus.
  • Mentoring – College mentors are yet another faculty member who can help students thrive in college. These professionals offer advice and guidance for you to study better and pick a suitable career path. Sometimes, they also offer personal support to help shape your personality, ways to boost your confidence and navigate the process of entering the workforce. A good mentor  listens to your needs, is flexible, and can find possible solutions to problems. In some cases, students can benefit from speaking with multiple mentors, as their unique opinions, experiences and skills may come in handy when resolving your particular issue.
  1. Develop Communication and Writing Skills

As a college student, a vital skill that needs your absolute focus is developing and polishing your writing and communication. There is possibly no other life skill that is going to help you as much as these skills in the professional world. Your body language, diction, and the confidence with which you communicate with others, is going to leave a lasting impression on every person you meet along your educational and professional journey. 

Your college years are the best time for you to work on your ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

  • If you struggle to communicate effectively or lack confidence when expressing your opinion, speak to your friends or professors about it. 
  • Check if there is a learning center on campus that offers relevant exercises to help you polish your communication skills. 
  • Another way to hone these skills is to actively take part in public speaking sessions. If you have stage fright, it might seem daunting at first. But with practice, it’s very likely that you overcome your fear and become a better communicator in life.

Another life skill that you can set you up for success in college is working on your writing ability. While many students can effectively communicate in person, some might not be able to translate their thoughts on paper. If you’re one of them, check if you have a writing lab or center in college. These writing centers offer training on how to write different types of papers and identify and correct typos and grammar errors. Irrespective of your command on the language, visiting the writing center regularly is recommended as you may get valuable feedback on important projects and assignments, like your master’s thesis. 

  1. Save Costs on Books. Use the Library

If you’re still wondering, “how to succeed in college,” we have another handy tip for you. A smart way of saving some dollars in college is to not buy textbooks each semester. Start by checking with seniors who’ve completed the same program if the study material for your semester’s subjects is available online. Also, it’s wise to check out your campus library. Chances are there might be course material readily available for your subjects. Who knows, you might even find corresponding notes for each subject?

If you don’t find the right textbooks online or in your campus library, there’s yet another way to look for an affordable way to study. Consider renting out the books from a local or online vendor and you could end up saving more money than you anticipated. Looking for more ways to save money in college? Here are some more tips that could come in handy.

5. Build Skills Relevant to Your Degree and Career

As you progress in your degree, you’ll notice certain types of assignments coming up repeatedly. For instance, an English major may have to write a lot of essays, while a math major may have to take multiple exams that require solving  complex equations.

An important measure of your success in college involves academic achievement. So, it’s best to start honing those skills that you are most frequently tested on. Make a list of how you can leverage your strengths, and try not to judge your perceived shortcomings. Some other things you could do to build on skills relevant to your degree and career include:

  • Check with your college or department if they have a peer-review system like a writing workshop for students who can review your work and offer constructive feedback.
  • Joining study groups is another hack to student success in college. Speak to your friends and come up with a comfortable time and location to study together. Studying in a group can actually help you stay motivated, boost your productivity and give you a chance to ask questions and clear doubts in real-time.
  • Take part in activities and clubs that can supplement your career growth. For instance, if you’re studying marketing and advertising, look for clubs that engage in activities that involve sales stimulation, public speaking activities, or creative activities like ad designing. These types of activities will help you build the skill set needed to enter your desired field of work and give you an edge over your peers. What’s more? If you participate and win competitions hosted by these clubs, you can even add those to your resume to show potential employers that you come with the confidence and experience to execute the responsibilities that come with the job.

The benefit of sharpening your academic skills in college will likely extend even after you acquire your degree because more often than not, the skills that contribute to your success academically are also the skills that come in handy when you pursue a career in a related field.

6. Military Student Center

There are a number of colleges that provide a military student center. A military student  center offers academic support, transition assistance, and advocacy for students who are Active-Duty Service Members, Veterans, ROTC cadets, Reservists, National Guard, and their families.

According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, 75% of student Veterans are attending school full time. Also, the main reasons for them to pursue higher education are to:

  • Increase their career opportunities
  • Develop new skills
  • Learn to apply military skills in civilian life
  • Improve the quality of life for themselves and their families

If the college you’re considering is military friendly and has a military student center, chances are they honor national financial aid benefits including the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program, which cover tuition and fees. If you’ve served the nation in any of the ways mentioned above, and wish to embark on your higher educational journey, it’s good practice to check if your college offers these financial aid benefits. Spouses and children of service members may also find help here.

7. Ask For Help and Support When You Need it

  • Financial aid counseling – Researchers from the Educational Data initiative have found that in one academic year, over $2 billion in federal student grants go unclaimed. This means that students aren’t taking full advantage of the financial resources offered to them. Fun fact – Did you know that you need to fill out the FAFSA every year to be eligible for federal, state, or institutional grants and loans? Yup, it’s true! So, if you have questions about financial aid or need help navigating the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to your college’s financial aid office. These professionals are available to help you understand the process of comfortably financing your degree.
  • Mental health counseling – While mental health may not be the first thing that you would consider as a student, it can definitely have a huge impact on your college success. Picture this, you joined a degree program and are now overwhelmed with test anxiety, the pressure to perform, the financial burden of your education, or you’re struggling to cope with the many transitions that come with moving into adulthood. All of this, collectively, could negatively impact your performance and can lead to serious health issues. When feeling low in college, it’s best to find out about your college’s mental health center to find a counselor or therapist and book a session with them. These professionals can help you find ways to navigate academic, personal, and emotional challenges in college.
  • Career counseling – One of the common struggles students face during their college years is deciding on a career path. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused, thanks to the multiple options that every industry has to offer. So, what should you do? Speak to alumni, a career counselor or professionals in the industry of your interest.
    • Industry professionals might be able to share their unique experience and tell you the real facts about the profession you are considering. With the help of your college’s career center, you can meet professionals who can further connect you to internship opportunities, or even help you enter the workforce.
    • Career counselors, on the other hand, have another way of determining if you’re the right fit for a particular profession. They may conduct a session with you to understand your likes and interests and might ask you to take a sit-down aptitude test and then help you determine if you’re cut out for the job you seek.
  • Support from family and friends – For college students, knowing that you’re not alone is always helpful and encouraging to get through anything in your life. This is why it’s essential to have the support of your friends, family and community if you want to meet your college goals. The feeling of belonging and emotional support can considerably boost your self-confidence and help you thrive in college.
    • Friends play a pivotal role in shaping a student’s personality in these formative years. If you find like-minded people who share similar interests, they can help you progress towards earning your degree and building lifelong friendships as well.
    • Your family members are a great resource for support in your educational journey. Simply by listening to your school and personal challenges, offering valuable advice and regularly checking in with you, your family can help build the confidence you need to face the hurdles of college life. 
  • Support from Community – Your community can also greatly impact your performance in college. The sense of belongingness in a community can help in the socio-economic development of a student, thereby building life skills like teamwork, leadership, communication and the drive to bring change for the greater good.  

To succeed in college, it’s important to keep a growth mindset. When you set out on your higher education journey, remember you’re here for a purpose – to increase your knowledge base and set a solid foundation for a successful career. To do so, the most important advice for college students would be to stay focused on the end goal, leverage all the resources you can during these formative years, and never hesitate to ask for help. Your college years are for you to learn the right skills, make lifelong connections and also, to have some fun. We hope this handy guide helps you make the most of your college experience.

Do you need college education to be successful?

Well, that entirely depends on the education you get and the industry you wish to work in. While in industries like medicine, law, or engineering, college education is typically required to obtain the necessary certifications and licenses to practice. In other fields, such as entrepreneurship or the arts, a college education may not be necessary, but can still provide individuals with valuable networking opportunities and a foundation of knowledge and skills.
That said, success is not solely determined by your level of education. Many successful individuals have achieved their goals through hard work, determination, and a willingness to learn and adapt. A college education, however, can provide individuals with a competitive edge in the job market and can open up opportunities that may not be available to those without a degree.

What are three simple pieces of advice for college students?

Some easy yet effective pieces of advice for college students are:

– Prioritize Time Management: Create a weekly schedule to allocate time for classes, studying, and personal activities.
– Embrace Effective Study Habits: Use active learning techniques like summarization, self-testing, and teaching others. Also, it’s a good idea to stay organized with notes, study groups, and a distraction-free study environment.
– Build a Well-Rounded College Experience: Get involved in clubs, organizations, or volunteer work to develop interpersonal and leadership skills. Consider networking with peers, professors, and professionals to find opportunities for internships and future careers.