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Six tips to keeping college students successful

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Bob McDonnell

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Posted: Saturday, September 24, 2011 9:00 am

Every student wants to be successful in college, so follows are six tips to keeping student's successful.

1. Use daily, weekly, and semester calendars to keep track of appointments and assignments and to plan how you want to use your time. Effective time managers don't rely on their memories to hold important dates and times. They write them down! This clears their brains for more important tasks, like thinking.

Combine due dates for several major projects on a long-term calendar to help you set and accomplish goals, plan and use your time wisely, and avoid procrastination or last-minute panics.

2. Review your lecture and reading notes within 24 hours after you take them. Since we tend to forget about 80 percent of what we read or hear within the first 24 hours, this first review is vital to retention. Equally important, it helps you to build a "framework" of knowledge that you continually add to, instead of starting from scratch.

3. Keep all your class materials syllabi, notes, papers, exams, and homework, in a three-ring binder. Many students spend half their time just getting organized. Do it as you go; then, use the time you've saved for valuable physical and mental recreation.

4. Establish a regular study routine, and study during daylight hours. Find a place that is comfortable, but not too comfortable, and always do your studying there, preferably during the same hours each day. Also, keep in mind that you're about 1.5 times more productive during the daylight hours than when the sun is down.

5. Begin preparing for exams from the first day of class. Make everything you do from taking notes, doing homework, writing papers, and taking quizzes are an exam preparation strategy. Watch and listen for potential exam questions. Then, use the week before the exam to review, not to learn.

6. When you need help, see your instructors during their office hours, and/or talk to your academic advisor.

• Bob McDonnell is executive director of Arizona College Planners, L.L.C., a member of the College Planning Network, the National Association of College Funding Advisors and the National Association of College Acceptance Counselors. For questions, email

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