10 Tips to Stay on Track in College

Posted by on January 10, 2013

Jessica Denne, Associate Dean at MSB-St. Cloud

You’ve just returned from the holiday break and you want to do well this term—you do! But the time off with family and friends felt so good, and not having homework felt even better. Plus, it is January in Minnesota. How do you get motivated for the rest of the school year?

Take some advice from these experts for college students returning to school after the winter break.

Jessica Denne, associate dean at Minnesota School of Business – St. Cloud and Nicole Rasmussen, service learning coordinator, suggest these tips for “going the distance” this quarter.

  1. Stay Focused on Your Goals:  Nicole Rasmussen reminds students to “have a professional attitude, be professional and attentive” at all times in class and outside of it. This ensures that you stay focused on the ultimate goal—being prepared for graduation and the work world.  Jessica Denne adds that students should set small goals and work up to the larger ones. Accomplishing one goal sets a precedent for the next.
  2. Plan, Plan, Plan: Both agree that planning builds the foundation to success. “Plan everything,” emphasizes Denne, including your social life. Make lists and prioritize, adds Rasmussen.
  3. Attendance is Key: “Attendance can truly make or break a student’s grade,” warns Rasmussen. It is essential to see the value in class time, she urges, and that includes the time spent making relationships with other students. “Those relationships are essential as [students] move forward in their educational career.” Denne also advises: “Be the master of your classes. You cannot learn if you are not there.”
  4. Nicole Rasmussen, Service Learning Coordinator

    Eat, Sleep, Move: Both Denne and Rasmussen agree that a good diet, enough sleep and exercise can maximize a student’s learning potential. Denne summarizes, “If you exercise at least 30 minutes a day, you will reduce your stress; you will be able to focus and function better. You will also be able to sleep more rested, and this can help with your memory and your moods while you are in school.”

  5. Study Any and Everywhere: Rasmussen has plenty of good advice on studying. “Take breaks when you study [and] study in chunks. Don’t try to do everything all in one sitting. Don’t WAIT! Use a tape recorder. Study in your car, study in the shower, study with a friend!”
  6. Ask for Help:  “You are going to school for you,” Denne reminds students. “If you want to learn and master a topic, feel free to ask for tutoring help.” When in doubt, Rasmussen adds, “ALWAYS ask another student, a staff member, a faculty member, mentor, advisor, admission rep, ANYBODY!”
  7. You Can Do It All: Classes, work and home life can make involvement in extra-curricular activities seem overwhelming, but Denne and Rasmussen strongly encourage participation and assure students that it’s both doable and wise. “You find time and commit to items that are important to you,” Denne says. “Keep a schedule. Anything that is worth doing is hard at first.” She also notes that even if it doesn’t seem important now, that can change later. “It may be[come] important once you are looking for jobs and placement in the future.”
  8. Minnesota Winter is a Fact: Rasmussen and Denne remind students to prepare for it. “Have a reliable source of transportation,” advises Rasmussen. “If taking the bus, do they know where the bus picks up and drops off and what times it runs throughout the days/weeks? If carpooling, are they driving with someone that has the same work ethic as they do, are they also reliable?”
  9. Friends are Important, Too: It may sound like the only way to survive this college deal is to dump all your friends and good times. Not so, argue both Denne and Rasmussen. “Your friends are the ones that will help you GET through college,” insists Rasmussen. “Go out and have fun to get a break from studying every once in a while!” Denne insists that the answer is scheduling your social time just like your classes—and committing to both.
  10. Yep. This is College: Being a college student is a serious business. “Take being a student to the fullest,” encourages Denne. And remember, adds Rasmussen, “Being in college can be a roller coaster! It can be really challenging but also very rewarding. Don’t give up when times get tough.”

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