This is the first in a series of posts on the secrets of being a successful student. The first secret is to be prepared. With that in mind, today’s post is going to focus on tools/supplies for success. There are several tools/supplies that good students use that will make life easier and create a great environment for success. I have a list of tools and then a brief description on how to use them to your advantage. Learning how to be a good student might be easier than you think.
I have taught in the college classroom for over a decade and being proactive is one of the biggest indicators of success. That means that you get the books early, you have a planner, and as soon as the syllabus is posted you print it off, read it, and bring it to class. These things will go a long way in presenting yourself well in class and becoming a good student, but a good impression doesn’t earn the grade. There are several supplies that will help get you on the right foot. I have included affiliate links for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure here.
Tools for Good Students
- texts/class notes/ syllabus
- colored pens
Optional Tools for Good Students
- Laptop or iPad
- index cards
- sticky notes/flags
- binder clips/paper clips
- a mini stapler (take a small stapler to class – your classmates will love you)
- study group
Let’s talk about planning.
The first step in how to be a good student is to get a student planner. There are lots of great planners, but my current favorite is The Happy Planner. You can also use apps for planning, but most students need to write down more than a smart phone can easily accommodate. Create a plan for everything and put it in the planner. Make a study schedule before classes even start. In a typical course, you will need to study 2-3 hours for each hour in class. That may change as you get in the class, but that is a good rule of thumb. Use pencil and sticky notes for changes and additional details.
Make sure that you are creating a class schedule and plan that is realistic. Insure your time commitments aren’t more than the 24 hours in the day. I have a free course on time management for students that can help you better organize your time.
Highlighters, Pens, Binders Oh My!
Color code everything. I suggest bringing different color highlighters to class and pens. I was recently introduced to Bible Highlighters and they are awesome. Many professors offer some version of their notes online to bring to class. This means that it is more important than ever that you have a way to organize your thoughts as he/she teaches. In many courses, the pace is fast so that the material can be covered. Knowing a system for notes is crucial to your success. Learning what system works best for you is key in learning how to be a good student. Consider how you are going to organize your notes. Are you going to use a binder, spiral, folder, or scan them all into your computer?
By the way don’t be afraid to ask the prof if you need to bring the text everyday. They are heavy and for many classes you may not need to lug it around everyday, but ask and don’t assume you don’t need it. In addition, a mini-stapler comes in very handy and will make you popular with classmates.
How to be a good student and use technology
Technology is wonderful and it has ADDED so much opportunity for learning, but for the most part, it is an addition. Technology cannot replace what is learned in a lecture (even an online lecture). Don’t decide you can sit back and be a passive listener to lectures and passive reader of the notes and be successful. Learning is an active process and since the student is the learner the student has to get actively involved.
Use technology to your advantage and not as an excuse to be lazy. Ask the instructor if you can record the lecture, and then listen to it while you workout (I actually watch online lectures while I do my cardio at the gym all the time) or drive somewhere. If the instructor allows iPads and computers, take notes on the devices. Go back and re-write the notes by hand or at the very least print and highlight and underline with your color coding system. Don’t forget to use flags for important information/organization and sticky notes for extra tidbits or questions.