While there are an infinite number of strategies and tactics that can drive a student’s success, there are only a handful of reasons that may lead a student to crash in failure. But those reasons are MAJOR. And, oftentimes, hard to avoid. But not impossible.
By understanding the pitfalls that often plague students, you can better prepare for your own college success. Whether you are just learning how to navigate a work/life balance, or searching for a reason why going back to college as an adult is so much harder than you thought it would be, kick these 9 habits to the curb and give yourself a degree tune-up:
1. Poor Time Management
Work is calling. The kids are crying. Dishes are piling up in the sink. You miss a course deadline… or two… or three… We get it. Life gets busy. You can’t plan for everything. But you can plan for something.
The Fix: Set aside a few hours each day to do schoolwork, uninterrupted, that will allow for your total focus on the task at hand. By planning your day or week in advance, and writing it down in a notebook, planner or on a post-it stuck to the fridge, will help you visualize what needs to be accomplished. Then you can make adjustments and arrangements as needed.
2. Not Keeping Up
We’re all guilty of procrastination. Putting off tasks until another day is going to happen in some way, shape or form while you pursue your degree. Telling yourself that you will just “do it later” will only hurt you in the long run. Getting totally lost in a course is a problem that happens far too often.
The Fix: Set personal deadlines that come before your course deadlines so you can assure that the work gets done in a timely manner. You may need that extra day or two to polish your work, or recap something you read earlier on. By staying on pace with your courses, even studying will come much easier to you; cramming for your courses is one thing you can avoid.
3. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Ah, sleep. We can’t get enough of it, literally. With the hustle and bustle of balancing work, school and family, where is sleep supposed to fit in? But not getting enough sleep can hurt your test taking, studying and writing performance.
The Fix: Getting a good night sleep can actually improve your grades over pulling an all-nighter, help you to retain more information and much more. Find the balance that works for you so you’re refreshed and recharged to take on the day ahead, the right way.
4. Not Discussing Your Plans or Questions With Your Advisor
Not discussing your degree plans with your advisor could adversely affect the courses you take; who knew you didn’t need to take that class again?! Your advisor certainly did! Your advisor is the one that can offer the guidance and advice you need to finish your degree on time and as efficiently as possible.
The Fix: Your advisor is an invaluable resource. When in doubt, ask. As a Thomas Edison State College student, when you are in doubt, you can make an advising appointment through myEdison® 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or, you can call the College’s Advisement Expressline to reach an academic advisor quickly without the need for a formal appointment, especially for questions that typically take less than 10 minutes for an advisor to answer. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Every question is important because it applies to you.
5. Not Having the Right Supplies, Materials or Equipment
You wouldn’t take a test without studying, right? And you really wouldn’t take that test if you didn’t even have the book to study from, right? It is crucial to obtain your course materials in a timely manner so you can engage properly at the very beginning.
The Fix: Plan to purchase your materials, test out your equipment and review the syllabus before the course begins so you can understand what’s required of you. And don’t forget to test out your technology; be sure to have a reliable computer with the programs you’ll need and a dependable Internet connection to actively participate in courses.
6. Using Google and Wikipedia as Credible Research Sources
Sure, Google can be a great resource to help you develop ideas, but it should never be the only source you use to look for information. And neither should Wikipedia. Simply put, these sites are not credible sources in an academic paper.
The Fix: Public libraries, online journal databases, and credible online websites (typically those whose web addresses that end in .org, .gov, .edu, etc.) are the most reliable places to gather research information. As a Thomas Edison State College student, you do have access to the New Jersey State Library and its special databases, articles, books, journals and more that can help you nail that next research paper.
7. Taking On More Than You Realize
“Biting off more than you can chew,” as they say, can be detrimental to your success in any course you take. When you begin as a new student, ready and eager to get started as quickly as possible, it may seem tempting to take two or three courses at a time, and underestimate the time commitment required. Falling behind then becomes all too easy.
The Fix: Speak to your advisor and get their insight into what they think may be an appropriate course load for your first term. Keep in mind any job, family or outside commitments, and consider how much time in a week you will be able to dedicate to school. This will help you assess the right amount of courses to take without sacrificing your grades.
8. Not Participating
In any course, class participation is key. Whether you are raising your hand in a traditional classroom, or posting a reply to a discussion thread, your presence is noted. And assessed. And graded. If you don’t participate as required, not only are you putting your grade in danger, but you won’t get the most out of your course. Which, at the end of the day, is the whole reason you’ve chosen to pursue your degree.
The Fix: Actively participate with quality responses, and be sure to answer emails promptly and efficiently. Sure, your mentor is watching, but your classmates are also hoping to learn from you, as you are from them.
9. Not Writing Down Due Dates and Assignments
If you don’t have a planner, get one, stat! It will be your fail-safe throughout your academic career. Notating your course assignments and deadlines is fundamental to your time management skills, and will help you plan your life accordingly to stay on track.
The Fix: Whether it be a planner, a Google Calendar or a mobile calendar and reminder app, find the planning tool that works for you. Include the due dates of all your assignments, exams and readings. Being able to quickly and easily reference your commitments is the easiest way to stay organized and on top of everything.
Are you guilty of any of these habits? How have you overcome them?