It’s back to school—and the best time to get organized, get informed, and get on the path to a great academic year. Here are some top tips for succeeding at the university from a number of Rutgers professionals who spend a good part of their day advising undergraduates.
Have a Great Academic Year
Start with the Basics
It’s obvious, but essential: study. Often students overestimate their academic abilities and don’t study as much and as often as they should.
Major in a subject you enjoy! You’ll perform better in a subject you like.
Take control of your destiny. Learn how to use WebReg and Degree Navigator to register for classes and track fulfillment of degree requirements, reach out to faculty in your major for advice, and seek counsel from advisers. But remember, advisers do just what the name suggests: they advise. It’s up to you to understand processes and policies that affect you.
Eat healthy. Take the time to eat regularly and keep a supply of snacks handy for times when you can’t break away for a full meal.
Check and read your Rutgers/school email. Important information from advisers, faculty, and the university will be there.
Connect with Facebook and Twitter. If your school or college has a Facebook or Twitter page, make regular visits to see what’s new.
Study the Rutgers website. Check links for current students to find help and practical information. Then explore the rest of the website and discover things to see and do that will enhance your college experience.
Stay in the moment. While it’s natural for undergraduates to discuss majors and postgraduate plans, first give yourself time to sort out who you are, where you are, and where you are headed. The more important and more interesting question at this point is: as a young scholar, what will you do while you are here?
First-year and transfer students: Prepare for change! If you are ready to adjust your study habits and lifestyle to a new environment, you will find your transition will be that much smoother.
Keep on top of your schedule. In a calendar (paper or electronic), write down papers, tests, and reading assignments for each week so you can see what is needed and when things will get intense.
Schedule some time every week for something you like to do. (Yes, schedule it!) If it’s scheduled, you can have guilt-free time to relax and enjoy yourself.
When you plan your course schedule, also plan your life schedule. Consider part-time jobs, family responsibilities, commuting times, whether you are an early-morning or late-night person, study/homework time, and “me” time.
Find out early where to seek out advising, and seek it out often! If you’re not sure exactly who to ask, it’s still important to ask someone—they’ll steer you to the right place.
Connect with at least five Rutgers professionals who know you by face and name. The faculty and staff in this network will become your “go-to” resources for answers.
Tap into the Learning Centers. They provide subject area tutoring and academic coaching to assist with test taking, note taking, multiple choice exams, and more.
If a problem arises, contact your professors immediately. They won’t know what is happening in your life—difficulty with concepts, illness, personal emergency—if you don’t tell them.
Embrace the Adult You Are Becoming
Make a good first impression. Although you may be intelligent and capable, you are less likely to be taken seriously if you don’t wear clean, appropriate clothing and aren’t well groomed.
Get out of bad teenage speaking habits. Learn to engage in conversation like a “grown-up” because you are inescapably becoming one! Expressing yourself maturely and intelligently in an academic environment is the best practice for interviews, internships, grad school, and “the real world.”
Join in. When you become involved with a club, sport, on-campus job, or any other campus activity, you gain skills and confidence that will enhance your academic pursuits and personal growth.
Pursue internships. Internships can provide you with the upper hand you may need in landing a job. Through internships, you can explore your intended career path and gain valuable experience.
Study abroad! Focusing on topics about which you are passionate while immersed in a culture different from your own has effects far beyond grades and credits. You will mature academically, culturally, and emotionally.
Seniors: Remember, you have learned subject matter in your major and so much more. Try to identify transferable skills you have gained during your years at Rutgers. If you can articulate how you can read critically, write persuasively, analyze data, develop and defend conclusions, and collaborate with peers on projects, you will have the flexibility to enter the workforce through many doors.