STEPS to Success
“Using a personal planner has helped keep my assignments on track.” –NDSU Student
How does having a calendar help keep me academically successful?
- Using a planner helps you stay organized and aware of homework due dates, project deadlines, and test dates.
How can I get the most out of using my personal calendar?
- At the beginning of the semester, pull all the due dates from your syllabi into your planner. That way, you have everything you need in one convenient place.
- Use your planner to break down big assignments over multiple days or weeks. This way, you won’t end up cramming at the last minute or that big project or test won’t seem so daunting.
- Make using your planner part of your daily routine. Set aside times during the day to check it (perhaps right away in the morning or at night), and if you can, carry it with you so that it is always on hand if you need to check a date or add something new.
- Use color or stickers to help you organize certain subjects or events. Use a highlighter if something is really important.
- Putting extracurricular events in your personal calendar is helpful too. This way you know when you might have to find different times to work on assignments or readjust your study time.
- Some students flourish by making a to-do list each day and checking off tasks as they go. Reward yourself for completing your to-do list or items in your planner with a delicious snack, time with friends, or watch a movie.
Where can I get a personal planner?
- The NDSU Bookstore has a variety of different planners unique for your personal style which available in a number of colors and styles. Whatever you get, make it your own.
- NDSU freshmen receive a free NDSU planner at move-in. Upper classmen can purchase NDSU planners at the bookstore. NDSU planners already have many important dates listed, so this can save you time in the long run.
How does participating in organized clubs or groups help me to be academically successful?
- Clubs in your major can help students to apply classroom knowledge to real-world settings.
- Helps to unite students and faculty with common interests, which can strengthen professional ties and builds a sense of community.
- Allows students to interact in a non-formal atmosphere to strengthen leadership and communication skills.
- Allows interaction with your community or other professionals in your interest areas.
Where can I find more information on student clubs and groups
- Visit the Student Activities Website to see a list of clubs, groups, events, and volunteer activities.
How does checking my student email and Blackboard account keep me academically successful?
- Many instructors use Blackboard to post quizzes, tests, assignments, or to make important announcements. Logging onto Blackboard keeps you up to date with your classes.
- NDSU email is the university’s official form of communication. You receive messages about important announcements, dates, and other crucial information that you need to know. Professors, advisors, and organizations will also use email to contact you.
What steps can I take to make sure I frequently check my email and Blackboard?
- Plan times to check your email and Blackboard every day. Check right away in the morning, before bed, or in between classes. Find a routine that works for you.
- To conveniently check your email and Blackboard on the go, get quick access on your mobile devices. Instructions can be found below.
Here is how one NDSU student reacted to this fact:
“Making it known that most students use tutoring made it easier for me to do the same. Tutoring used to be for just the extremely smart or struggling. Knowing that pretty much everyone uses tutoring takes away some of the stigma/fear.”
How will academic services help me?
- College courses can be difficult, even for the very best students. It is important to seek out assistance in your courses when you are feeling confused, lost, or just have a few questions. Consulting with a professor, tutor, or TA will help clarify the material and assist you in getting through your course.
- Learn how to be successful in all of your courses. Many academic services will help you learn basic study techniques, time management skills, or how to manage test anxiety.
- Academic services will assist you in ‘mastering’ your work. They are not just for ‘catching up.'
- Research tells us that the most successful students on college campuses regularly use some sort of academic service.
What academic services are available at NDSU? (Click on the link for more information about each)
Why should I make class attendance a priority?
- Success in school starts with class attendance. Even though your professor may not take attendance, going to class should still be a priority for you if you want to get a good grade.
- Learning is more effective when you receive it in multiple formats (e.g., lecture, reading, discussion). Don’t do just one.
- Instructors cover material and make announcements in class that you will not get anywhere else.
- Class time is study time. If you attend class, you may spend less time later studying for the exam because you already have a basic understanding of the content. Attending class means that you don’t have to make sense of the material on your own.
What can I do to make sure that I attend class and get the most out of my lectures?
- Commit to only missing class if you are actually very sick or in case of emergency.
- Set alarms to make sure you are up in time for class. Don’t hit snooze!
- Talk to your professor before and after class. Get feedback on a project, ask a question about a concept you are struggling to understand, or set up a time to visit them during office hours. Professors encourage students to engage with them in this manner.
- Keep busy in class. Add to the discussion and take good notes while listening to the professor. Put away things that distract you such as your cellphone or laptop if you can’t refrain from browsing the web in class.
Here is how one NDSU responded after hearing this fact:
“Treating school like a full time job is how I stay focused for the education needed to get my dream job.”
What does “approaching college like a full-time job mean”?
When you are a student, college should be a priority. In the working world, you must have consistent attendance and dedicate time and effort to the work that you do. Your approach to college should be no different. Hold yourself accountable to attend all of your courses, thoroughly complete assignments, and create a schedule to effectively manage your time.
How can I take this approach to college?
- Create a schedule for yourself during the week. Know where you’ll study, what you will work on, and have an idea of how long it will take. Try to maintain the same basic structure each week.
- Find a place on campus to be your “office.” Some people may choose to work in the union or a coffee shop, while others will need the quiet of the library or private study room.
- Put the same amount of hours into school as you would a job. As a full-time student, you are expected to go to class and complete a few hours outside of class working on assignments and studying. Challenge yourself to work a regular schedule, such as 9-5 pm, with time for lunch and other small breaks throughout the day. With this sort of schedule, you can be more likely to get everything done and have a little downtime for yourself in the evenings. Just be aware may need to work a little “overtime” to get everything done during midterms and finals weeks.
Here is how one NDSU student responded after hearing this fact:
“Meeting with an academic advisor is definitely helpful in planning your classes for next semester or even planning into the future.”
Why it important to meet with my academic advisor each semester?
- Your advisor will work with you to select courses that are most appropriate for your abilities, interests, and career choices. Advisors may also suggest academic resources that are the most applicable to you.
- With their experience and expertise in their field and department, advisors will often see obstacles in your educational path before you will. By meeting with your advisor, you can hope to avoid pitfalls that could set you back in your academic career.
How do I connect with my academic advisor?
- You should be able to find and contact your advisor using Navigate.
Here is how a few NDSU students responded after hearing this fact:
“I took it easy my freshman year and hurt myself in the process. I am still trying to get myself out of the hole I dug, and I will be a senior this year. You have to come in with this type of attitude because if you don't it'll sneak up on you and once you fall behind it is extremely difficult to catch up again.”
“Completing 15 credits each semester has put me well on my way to graduate with a degree from NDSU in a timely fashion.”
Why it's important to register and complete 15 credits a semester?
- A majority of NDSU majors can be completed in 4 years; however to do this, it is important to take at least 15 credits per semester. The exception to this rule would be those who take summer classes, bring in large amounts of college credits, or come from programs that require additional credits to complete a degree (e.g., engineering, pharmacy, etc.)
- Taking 15 credits a semester helps you to make the most of your college experience by managing your time wisely. Financially, you will save money by not having to enroll in additional semesters of class and you can begin to make money in your career sooner.
What does this mean?
As an NDSU student, you are part of a strong community of achievers who are motivated to complete their degree at this institution.
What if I am struggling to find that feeling of commitment?
It’s not uncommon for a student to question if they are in the correct major, going towards the right career, or even wonder if NDSU is the perfect fit for them. If these are feelings you have experienced, you know how stressful they can be! Luckily, there are many resources on campus that can help you figure out which path is right for you. Here are a few:
- The NDSU COUNSELING CENTER can help you to process your personal concerns and will even help you to explore your interests, potential majors, and career options.
- Your NDSU advisors, professors, and other staff would be willing to hear out your concerns and help out make a decision about your future.
- If you find yourself struggling meet new friends, getting involved in student organizations can help you make connections with others and strengthen your sense of community at NDSU.
Why is it important to make homework completion my priority?
- Because you want to obtain all the points possible for your courses, completing your homework is a necessity if it is a graded assignment.
- If you get assigned homework for practice rather than a grade (such as reading), do it anyway! The incentive should always be to understand the material, and your understanding early on will lead to success in the class and on the exams later.
- Completing your homework before class gives you an idea of what you understand and what you do not. If you have a question, talk to the professor, classmate, or tutor and make sure you understand before the next class. Ignoring what you don’t know will only cause you to fall further behind.
How can I make sure to always complete my homework prior to class?
- Keep a planner to make sure you are aware of when all the assignments are due.
- Create time in your daily routine to work on homework for specific courses. If you already have time set aside for your class, you can make sure to finish all of the assignments during that period.
- Figure out which environments you learn best and minimize distractions. If you are more likely to study if you are working with someone else, find a study partner. If you know that your cellphone is a distraction, challenge yourself to stow it in your backpack until you are done with your assignment.
What do you mean by ‘preparing for class’?
- Preparing for class is anything that is done outside of class to ready oneself for the next class period. This could be reviewing notes, making flashcards, getting tutoring, completing homework, or reading the textbook.
How often should I be studying?
- Most experts recommend spending two hours outside of class for each hour spent in class. For a full-time student, this amounts to 20+ hours a week.
- Make sure to plan breaks while you study. Generally, most experts believe that after studying for about an hour, a 5-10 break is acceptable in order to give your brain a bit of a break. Reward yourself for the time you put into studying with a snack, talking to a friend, or get up and stretch.
- Avoid distractions while studying in order to get more out of the time you set aside. That way your entire focus can be on your work and you can get done faster. When you are finished, you will have free time to do what you want without that assignment looming over your head.
What does this mean?
- It takes a wide range of study skills to be academically successful. These skills will also vary from student to student. What works for your friend, may not work for you, and that is okay!
- Study habits that worked in high school may not always work for you at a college level. Challenge yourself to find new techniques that work for you and visit with an advisor or academic counselor to find out more.
- Choose your mindset wisely. Prepare yourself with the idea that college will be hard, but that you have the tools, resources, and the capacity to succeed even when the going gets tough. If you are willing to do the work (e.g. tutoring, studying daily, attending class, etc.), you will get the grades that you deserve!
What is the advantage of studying in advance?
- Cramming for a test only works in short term memory. Committing learning to long term memory takes time and repetition. Your brain needs to be trained to retain the information and the more your review and practice, the longer it will stick.
- This is the same concept and practicing for a sport. You can’t expect yourself to be ready to run a marathon if you start training the night before. To perform well, you train each day to be able to do well the day of the race.
How can I study efficiently?
- Break down the materials you need to study into manageable chunks (e.g., Day 1-Review Chapter 1, Day 2-Review Chapter 2, etc.). Each day, also take a little time to review what you studied the day before. By the time you get to the night before the exam, you should be simply able to do one final review and feel prepared to take the exam!
- To make this process even simpler, always review a little before and after class. This keeps the material fresh in your mind and shortens the amount of time spent cramming or reviewing right before the test.
- Meet with a professor, tutor, or classmate to ask any final questions you might have. If there is a review session offered, always attend—you will get information there that you won’t get anywhere else.
What do you mean by special projects and research and why are they important?
- Special projects and research can encompass many things such as running studies and managing participants in a professor’s lab to helping out with their class as an exam proctor, grader, or even as a leader of review sessions. You may also elect to work with a professor to complete a thesis tailored to your specific interests.
- Finding a strong mentor in your field can help students be successful at the university and lead to better opportunities for jobs and graduate schools, especially when a recommendations or references are needed.
Why should I talk to my professor about coursework, and when can I do that?
- Working with professors outside of class to solidify concepts helps students to reinforce their knowledge and gives students an opportunity to build a stronger professional relationship with their professor. Professors notice students who come in with questions and remember them as motivated learners who want to succeed.
- The professor is an expert in their course and academic field. If you are struggling with a concept, there is no one better person to go than the leader of the class.
- Most faculty and staff will list their office hours and contact information on their class syllabus. If one is not listed, send your professor an email to arrange a time that will work for both you.