How to Succeed in College

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Amidst everything else that goes on during your time in college, it's sometimes easy to lose sight of the end goal: graduation. But when you finally do have that diploma in hand, what will it mean? What will you have truly learned and done?

Academic success comes in many forms. For most students, it's a stellar transcript that opens doors into great jobs or great graduate schools. For others, academic success also includes what happens outside of the classroom. With so much going on in college, though, how can you make sure you're headed down a path toward true academic success -- and toward a truly rewarding college experience?

Let Yourself Explore

You may arrive at college knowing that you are destined to become a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer. Or you may arrive not having the slightest idea about what you want to major in.

No matter which end of the spectrum you're on, however, you should let yourself explore everything that your school has to offer academically. Take classes in a subject you've never taken before. Follow a passion that doesn't relate to your major. Just let yourself really learn from your environment.

Make Informed, Honest Choices -- and Enjoy the Consequences

There will undoubtedly be a lot of people giving you advice about what you should do during -- and after -- college. And while you may be in school to learn, you will, at some point, have to draw your own line in the sand. Pick a career and course of study that suits you, not your parents. Pay attention to the fire in your belly and learn what you're truly passionate about. Make sure you're happy at your school. And once you've made a choice, feel confident in your decision and do all you can to learn from the resources around you.

Set Yourself Up for a Strong Performance

You've explored a little, changed your mind here and there. Decided on a major, maybe even a career. With those decisions out of the way, you can now set yourself up for a successful college experience. Make sure that you make the most -- intellectually -- of the time you have left, be it one year or four. Take classes from the best professors in your department. Don't let minor errors in your papers take away from your great ideas. Grab coffee with your favorite professors and talk about what they love about their field.

Remember to Learn Outside of the Classroom

True, you spend a significant amount of time in class (and possibly in labs) learning new material. But what are you doing during the other hours of your week?

How you spend your time outside of the classroom is a critical part of your college experience -- and, in a sense, of the education you receive while in school. Make the most of it! Join a club or organization that explores your interests and passions. Take all your required courses next semester . . . in a different country. Branch out and try something you've never done before. No matter what you do, make sure you do something that you can look back and be proud of.

Remember to Stay Balanced

College can be overwhelming. And while you're focused on doing well academically, there can be multiple parts of your life that are keeping you from doing so. Maintaining a healthy, balanced life in school is challenging but important. Make sure to let yourself de-stress when you need it. Keep the things in your schedule that keep you healthy, whether it be going to the gym or going to religious services on a regular basis. Do what you can to keep your relationships healthy. In essence: take care of all of yourself, not just that big brain of yours.

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