Student Info & Guide

Success in College

by on May 15, 2023 | Useful Tips


A college education is a minimum requirement these days. A secondary school qualification such as the SPM doesn't seem enough for young adults to get a good job or to secure a bright future. Employers don’t just look for diplomas or degrees as evidence of learning; they seek the maturity and skills that students acquire from their years in college. Employers look for candidates who can think out of the box and not those who only know how to do things by the book.

Many young people have the misconception that when they go to college they will be 'free' from restrictions and rules such as wearing uniforms, keeping their hair short, and wearing white socks and shoes. They go to the other extreme and behave outrageously as though they needed to prove their new found freedom. Secondary schools are where teachers push students to excel. Students do not have a choice of what they study. They memorise facts and figures and regurgitate them during exams. The minute exams are over; students forget most of what they learnt in school.

Life in college is quite different. Courses in college usually lead to a future career. Therefore, college students have to make a wise decision when enrolling for a course as this would affect their future. to the prospect of going to college is an exciting one. However, some students may find the college environment so new and different that they might experience a minor culture shock. If you’re nervous about beginning college, fret not – follow these tips on how to do well in college and in three to four years, you will graduate as a mature and worthy young adult.

What makes a successful student? A successful student...

  • is an active learner. An active learner talks, listens, reads and reflects on what he or she is learning. Don't be afraid to talk, ask questions or be curious. In secondary school, you may have been reprimanded for talking and asking questions - in college, if you are quiet, you will lose out to students who are more vocal. Listen attentively to lectures and opinions, reflect on what you hear and form your own opinion. Read widely, whether newspapers, magazines or blogs, and think critically about what you have read. Don't be afraid to discuss your opinion but do not be so arrogant as to think you are right all the time.
  • attends all classes. It does not mean that when no one is taking down names for lateness or absenteeism, you can come to class as and when you like. Most courses in college have an 80% attendance requirement, failing which you might be barred from the exams. Most lecturers do not repeat what they have gone through for late comers, so you might miss quite a bit if you are habitually late. The responsibility of being on time is yours as a young adult so don't be tardy
  • is participative in class. Get to know your instructors and classmates. Be friendly, but it does not mean being kay poh. Take part in college activities and give something new a try. Learn not to be too sensitive when your mates laugh or criticize you. Believe in your own ability. Learn from your mistakes.
  • stay up-to-date with work. You will have to work very hard at college. Learn to self-regulate. Manage your time well. Be independent and take initiative for your own learning. Approach learning in a systematic way. Learn to take notes, develop concept maps, preview, highlight, predict and think critically. Learn to use the library and other research toola such as the Internet. Don't leave work such as assignments and reports until the last minute. Procrastination will only increase your workload and may cause you undue stress come exam time. Learn to be like the tortoise and not the hare.
  • knows strategies for learning.You should understand your self as a learner, and if you don’t, you should start by discovering what your learning style is. Learning style refers to how you acquire process and retain information. Visual learners learn best by seeing things, reading and watching demonstrations. They understand better if they read ahead of time. Visual learners use note-taking strategies such as outlining and re-reading texts and notes to remember. Auditory learners learn best by listening. They listen to lectures, read out loud, have discussions or listen to tapes. Kinesthetic learners on the other hand, learn best by doing things and having hands-on activities. They understand better by doing experiments, taking self tests or replicating tasks. Each of us has a preferred learning style but most successful students learn by using a combination of learning styles and switching styles depending on the demands of the course or assignment. When faced with a new learning task, try working within your preferred style first and if it doesn't work, try another style. The objective is to internalize learning and prepare well for an exam.
  • is motivated. Motivation is something that energizes, directs and sustains behaviour towards a goal. Motivation affects whether or not you do your work, and when and how well you work. Intrinsic motivation is when you want to learn and when you are interested in what you are learning. Extrinsic motivation is when you are told to learn and it might not be of interest to you. College students should have more intrinsic motivation as it would lead to more effort which leads to success. They should not need to have a reward or to be punished before they begin to learn. You can motivate yourself by setting challenging but realistic goals. See the value of what you are learning and have a positive attitude towards achieving your goals. Break down your tasks into smaller goals if they seem too difficult and use study strategies to finish one task at a time. Monitor your learning.
  • Is a good decision maker and problem solver. Each time you study for an exam, you make a conscious decision to complete the task instead of socializing or sleeping. Each decision involves more decisions. You need to decide what to study and how long to study. You also need to make good decisions when you set long- and short-term goals. Making decisions when the choices are obvious is easy. When choices are unknown, you need to use problem-solving strategies. You need to define the problem, then consider the alternatives. Make a plan, take action to solve your problem, and then evaluate the outcome.
  • Projects a positive self image. It is very important for college students to prioritize their image as it will give others a good first impression. The right image gives a positive or favourable impression to help others believe what they see. Various factors shape an image including physical appearance. You don't have to wear expensive or branded clothes but a neat and clean style will give others a good first impression. The good habit of dressing well might even carry on to your working life. Old T-shirts, Bermuda shorts and slippers should be kept for lazy weekends at home and not for college. Girls should learn to dress for a working day and not for an evening of clubbing. First impressions might influence how others perceive or treat you in college and it could affect your self-esteem. College is also where many people meet their future life partners and of course, you want to give a good first impression.

A wise man once said: "Life is what you make of it. Nothing in life is free." It means that if you want a good life, you have to put in effort to get it. But don’t let that scare you – it doesn't mean that college life is all hard work. You are likely to have numerous clubs, interest groups or sports teams that you can take part in. Move out of your comfort zone – try something new or take on a leadership role. You can even organise activities for your mates. It will be good experience for your future. There will also be a lot of workshops or seminars you can attend at college. These will help you stay motivated and open your mind to the many happenings in the world around you.

As you can see, life as a college student is not all play or all tuition like in secondary school. You will have to work hard but you can play hard too. After all, you are an adult now. You have to be responsible and mature enough to make your own decisions. These decisions will play a part in forming your life and career. Your future is in your hands!

tips_lucy.jpg Acknowlegment
This Article is contributed by Miss Lucy Ooi Choon Lean, Head of Modern Language Centre, Southern College

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