How to succeed at University: twelve tips for undergraduate students


Another great start-of-term post from regular contributor Chris Buddle (@CMBuddle). Some helpful tips to share with your students.

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Note: this is an updated/edited post, it was originally published several years ago.

The start of term is an exciting time for those of us who work at a University. There are many new students arriving on campus, full of enthusiasm, hope, and questions.  As an Associate Dean, I meet many of these students, and I am often asked for advice during orientation week. Later in the term, I sometimes see students who are struggling, and looking for strategies to help with balancing their academic work with other priorities, or looking for ways to make their time at University a little easier. So, here are my twelve tips for success at University:

1. Work hard. At the end of the day, hard work pays off. You made it into University, which suggests you have the fundamental skill set required for higher education. However, don’t forget to keep your eye…

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One thought on “How to succeed at University: twelve tips for undergraduate students”

  1. Lots of good advice that I hope students will heed!

    Item #6 “Keep up!” is a point that I’ve been particularly emphasizing with students, perhaps because I recently read a book called The Power of Habit (http://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/). Also, I’ve been introducing students to the relevance of The Curve of Forgetting (http://uwaterloo.ca/counselling-services/curve-forgetting) regarding retaining lecture content. (It’s not mentioned at the site that the curve is attributed to German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgetting_curve.) Students are generally receptive to the idea that ten minutes of review time within 24 hours of hearing a lecture is beneficial, and 10 minutes seems like a reasonable commitment. The trick is to make that review time a habit. In order to foster such study behaviour among my students, I encourage them to set short term goals that will result in a reward sooner rather than later. The reward should motivate them to keep up the behaviour so that it becomes a habit.

    If anyone else has shared The Curve of Forgetting with their students, how did they–the students–react to it? If you’ve never shared The Curve with your students, would you consider using it to foster sound study habits?

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