Do As I Say and Not As I Do – 4 Pieces of Advice to Get Through College

Posted by on June 7, 2013

I can distinctly remember my own college days at a major university, and I shake my head at how I treated the beginning of my undergraduate degree: unimportant.  I have told stories to my students before about those days and have always ended with the well known phrase, “Do as I say and not as I do.”  It’s not that I didn’t like college; in fact, I really liked every aspect of college except the whole going to class part. 

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Freshman Michelle, circa 1999

It was fall 1999, and Y2K was approaching.  Our computers were going to fail, and life would fall to pieces.  We would not be able to function (or so we thought).  Knowing this was supposedly going to happen, there was no point attending classes. So, when finals week rolled around for that first semester, I was not necessarily the most prepared student sitting in the large auditorium. 

Do you want to avoid being “Freshman Michelle?”  Here are four pieces of advice to help you with not only your finals but your entire college career.

Take your textbook out of the cellophane.  Textbooks are expensive, and they serve a purpose!  It’s in your best interest to read them carefully, highlight what’s important, take Cornell notes, and review the information often.  “Freshman Michelle” had to take biology, and I did take the cellophane off the book.  However, I didn’t read it.  I recall going to sell my book back at the end of the quarter and only being offered chump change for the couple of hundred dollars book; I promised the worker that it was new (minus the cellophane) and not marked up at all.  Unfortunately that did not matter, so I decided to keep the textbook to serve as a paperweight (literally because it was such a big book).  Lesson learned, and I had to take the class again to fulfill my liberal arts requirement.  Luckily, I still had the book. 

As Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center (MSB) heads toward the world of e-books, students don’t have to worry about the cellophane, but they do need to worry about reading it!

Go to class.  “Freshman Michelle” did not really see the importance of going to class because I had other things to do, such as sleeping in every day.  If I had a night class, I usually slept during it.  I could, though, without being noticed because I was in such a large room and considered a number.  When I didn’t go to class or when I slept, I missed information, and this put me further and further behind every week.  Midterms came, and I didn’t do great.  Finals would come, and I would do worse. 

At the MSB-Brooklyn Center campus, students are in small class sizes and are able to form relationships with their instructors and fellow students.  Students are missed when they are not there.  Be accountable, and go to class.  You are paying for it, so make the most out of each class session!

Ask for help when you need it.  Whether it is a friend or an instructor, ask for help if you don’t understand the course material or homework.  I was fortunate to have met a group of friends who were studying to be engineers and scientists, so when I needed help with my statistics or calculus homework, they were there to explain the material to me.  Make some friends in school, and form study groups.  Learning from a peer is oftentimes more helpful than learning from an instructor. 

At MSB-Brooklyn Center, there are so many resources available to students.  Our AVID Learning Connection provides assistance with writing and math, and instructors often hold labs for medical and accounting students.  Tutors are also available.  Take full advantage of these services if you need them!

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Remember how I didn’t go to class?  I thought that if I tried to read three months’ worth of material hours before a final exam, I would pass with flying colors.  Wrong.  Cramming for an exam is quite possibly one of the worst things you can do because you will likely not remember anything when it comes time to test.  Your brain will be jam packed with tidbits of information, and being able to recall what’s actually important during the test will be tough.  Read your textbook often, go to class, ask for help if you need it, and review your material often.  If you review even five to 10 minutes per day, your retention will significantly improve, and you will not have to cram. 

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Michelle Barsness, Community Manager

In case you are wondering, “Freshman Michelle” became a better student as time went on.  While my undergraduate grades were maybe not all that they could have been, I did graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, and I went on to graduate school to earn a Master of Education with a 4.0.


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