Let’s Have a Successful Year in College

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By John DeSpagna
Chair of the ACC. and BUS. Adm. Depart.
Nassau Community College

The summer has come to an end and the new school year is upon us. What I want to do with this column is focus on some of the actions a student can take to make this a successful year. We all face a busy schedule with school, work and other activities that draw us in different directions and make demands on our time. Lets stay focused and see if you can incorporate some of these actions into your successful school year.

One of the most common challenges students face is regarding time management. While advising students, I inquire as to how many hours per week they will be working and how many credits they want to take. If you are taking 15 credits and working 40 plus hours a week, it usually does not work. Try and make your work schedule more reasonable and maybe you will have to cut back on the number of credits you register for.

Another aspect of developing time management skills is to come to class. Being in class helps you learn the material and prepare you for the exams. Many professors have an attendance policy to enhance the importance of coming to class.  Get to class a few minutes early, look over the notes from the prior class and complete the homework assignment on time.

Some of us face a challenge when it comes to certain courses. An example of this may be with math. Many schools have a math-learning center. Take advantage of this resource. The learning centers are there to help you with tutors, refresher classes and to answer your questions. Some colleges also offer learning centers in writing, accounting and many other content areas.

Professors also hold office hours for our students. We are here to help you with your studies, advisement for selecting a course and to help you with school. Go and talk to your professors. Professors are successful practitioners in their field and they can also help you with career advice.

Being able to set aside time to study is important. Instead of trying to do your work in a single long block of time, break things up. I have come to realize that taking a break is important. Try studying in 45-minute blocks of time and then take a break. Walk around, get some fresh air, have a snack and then when you return to studying, you should feel refreshed. Studies have also shown that listening to quiet music in the background can also help.

As you think about your successful future, you should also imagine what area you want to pursue a career in. I would strongly recommend that you try to take an internship in a field that you are considering. You will obtain real-world practical experience that can only help you. Speak to your internship coordinator and see if you can find something that will work for you here.

You should also try and get involved in your school. Join a team or a club to gain some experience in a field that is of interest to you. Think of things that you like to do and find the club on campus that correlates to that interest.

You have to realize that with a college education, you are investing in yourself and I can think of no better investment you can make. The people who are most successful in life understand this and are self-motivated with a passion to make their lives better. So let’s stay focused and incorporate some of the above-mentioned steps into your successful school year. You can do this and be successful!