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Preparing for Success at UVU

22 August 2011 No Comment

Martha Wilson, Program Coordinator of Student Success/Retention

Just Google “college success tips” and you’ll get more than 6 million results for sites that reference tips and resources on how to make the most of college. Apparently, a lot of people are concerned about their ability to succeed in college. And they should be. Completing a college degree takes a lot of hard work, time, energy and money (did I mention hard work?). Anyone serious about achieving this goal would do well to make sure they knew every tip written on the subject.

But with such an overload of information available, how do you focus on those few tips and habits that are most helpful for you, a student at Utah Valley University? Based on my own experience as a (former) college student and a UVU staff member, I’m sorting through the pile to give you my top ten recommendations for success at UVU:

1. Get a new attitude
Just about everything at college is different from what you previously experienced in high school. Classes are harder. Schedules are more complicated. Homework seems endless and parking is a nightmare. Make up your mind now that you will approach these and other new challenges with a positive and open mental attitude. Change and challenges are good for you. They provide the opportunities that allow you to grow as a person. Embrace them and cultivate the attitude that you will do whatever it takes to succeed.

2. Set a goal for college graduation
Even if you are not sure of your career choice or a major, set a goal that you will graduate within a specified timeframe. Then do everything you can to stick to it. If you are serious about your goal, you will find that the choices for a major and/or career will fall in place.

3. Go to class — every class
This is a no-brainer, right? Courses move more quickly in college and professors provide a lot of content you won’t find in the book. If you’re coming from the mindset that you never missed anything when you skipped class in high school, you’ll have a rude awakening here. Decide now that no excuse is important enough to miss class.

4. Know thy professor
This is a commandment you’ll find on every college success tip list — and for good reason. Nearly all (legitimate) classroom concerns can be remedied if you have formed a relationship with your professor. You already decided that you’ll be at every class, right? Sit in the front row, stay awake, participate in discussions and make sure the professor knows your name. This might be enough to tip your grade to the positive side of the borderline someday.

5. Be realistic about your commute
Although some of you may live in one of the nearby apartment complexes, UVU is essentially a commuter campus. Acknowledge the fact that you will spend time daily waiting for a bus, driving or finding parking (or, actually, not finding parking). Be realistic about your time and travel expectations. Plan either to arrive early or plan to park in the far lot. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes.

6. Plan to stay on campus for more than just classes
There is a ton of research out there that links student involvement with college success. However, involvement can be a challenge on a campus where students tend to go straight home after class. Choose instead to hang around after class and grab lunch with a classmate in the food court. Or, head over to the library to do your homework there instead of at the kitchen table. You’ll benefit from the increased exposure to campus activities and potential relationships.

7. Utilize resources
UVU has some of the most comprehensive and easily-accessible student resources I’ve ever seen on a college campus. However, they cannot help you unless you take the steps to seek them out and ask for help. Click here to download our most up-to-date campus resource guide (pdf). Resources vary, from those meant to help you identify financial aid resources to tutoring you in your math homework to helping you cope with depression. If you are serious about graduating from college, then learn how to ask for help. Ask often, ask loud and keep asking until graduation.

8. Stay informed
The other day I heard about a student who referred to email as “old” technology he didn’t care to utilize anymore (I wondered what that student did when they realized professors actually require them to read books). Email, ancient or not, is still the most efficient way to circulate the vast amount of information relevant to your college experience. Every student is provided with a free UVLink email account and is responsible to know the information provided there. Check and read your UVU email regularly.

9. Be realistic about combining work and school
One of the biggest reasons that students drop out of college is the frustration of trying to balance the competing demands of work and school. If working is imperative for you, be realistic about your college course load. Don’t attempt a full-time load with a full-time job. If possible, get a job on campus — you’ll save time commuting and campus departments are usually flexible about working around your school schedule.

10. Expect some D’s: Disillusionment, Discouragement, and Despair
“I didn’t know that college would be so hard. I’ll never pass my biology class. How will I ever get my nursing degree?” I’m not promoting a negative attitude when I remind you that you will face challenges in college that seem insurmountable. When you get one of these D’s, refer to the previous nine tips — talk to your professor, reach out to a resource and ask for help and, above all, maintain the positive determination that you can, and will, overcome your challenges!

— Martha

UVU Student Success
“Resources for Success” pdf download

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