How to Select Your Classes

Just a note or two.

When choosing classes, keep in mind what your education goals are.

The first thing you should do is talk to an advisor (remember tip # 1; if needed, speak with more than one advisor).

In addition to talking to an advisor, visit your college’s website and look for information regarding transfer requirements (and your major if you have one).

For instance, this is the checklist for students transferring to University of California and California State University campuses:

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Print out the checklist for your desired school, put it someplace where it won’t get lost and check the requirements off as you meet them.

Make sure you are fulfilling requirements when you are choosing your classes, but don’t overbook yourself. For instance, choose two or three classes that fulfill requirements and then a PE class and another fun class that will count as transfer units (make sure they are transferable classes), but won’t require a lot of outside work. Take advantage of Pass/No Pass options for extremely difficult required classes. However, use P/NP sparingly and remember in some cases such as the math requirement for UC transfers above a P/NP grade is not transferable, so be careful.

Most importantly, keep in mind that college is not a race, and if it were, the winner would be the person who gained the most knowledge and/or mastered a skill, not the person who finished first. So, if you have been struggling to keep your head above water (or you have been sinking), one or two classes at a time is fine as long as you are getting A’s or B’s (and can feed yourself).

Life is long and well worth your best effort.

How to Tips For Turning  F’s into A’s

How to Use the Syllabus

How to Write a College Paper

How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

How to Study for a Test

How to Organize Your Stuff

How to Wake Up and Go to Class

How to Stay Motivated

How to Select Your Classes

 

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How to Stay Motivated

Step 1 – Watch this video.

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A Broken Body Isn’t A Broken Person

Step 2 – Start collecting your own set of motivational videos and quotes. Here are some of my favorites.

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How Bad Do You Want It?

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Never, Ever Give Up. Arthur’s Inspirational Transformation

Now please go back and watch the fist video. It is a must, and it is only 18 minutes long. Listen to while you are folding your laundry (folded laundry will make you feel great; it’s very motivating to treat yourself to nice clean living space).

How to Use the Syllabus

How to Write a College Paper

How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

How to Study for a Test

How to Organize Your Stuff

How to Wake Up and Go to Class

How to Stay Motivated

How to Select Your Classes

How to Wake Up and Go to Class (and while you are at it get some exercise)

If you have spent any time on this site, you have probably noticed that you can do a lot to improve your grades without ever getting out of bed. However, going to class is not one of those things one can do from bed (unless it is an online class!).

I don’t have any hard facts, but based on my personal lifelong research, getting out of bed can feel like the most challenging act ever especially if one did not get any sleep the night before and all one has to look forward to once out of your warm, cozy bed is a lecture on how to find the area of a parabolic segment.

Of course some people can get away with not going to class and still get good grades (we should all visit their website), but I think we have established (based on the name of this site) that you are not one of those people. If you want to succeed in college, you must get out of bed and go to class, and you are probably not going to like step one on how to do this.

Steps to Waking Up and Going to Class . . . :

1. Stop smoking weed.

2. Have everything ready the night before (this will buy you a little extra time in the morning).

3. Get up.

That is it; that is all there is to it. I didn’t say go to bed early or keep the sleep pattern on the weekend the same or turn off all of your devices by 11:00 p.m. etc., etc. because I know those are not realistic solutions.

Yeah, you are thinking not smoking is not realistic either, but trust me, the only way you are going to be successful in college is to be sober (you must stop partying on week nights, and if you are really serious, weekends are for studying and sleep, not for getting wasted).

Instead of smoking (or drinking or taking any kind of drug) , try getting some exercise.

You would be amazed what 30 minutes of exercise can do for your mood, brain, and social life.

Almost all colleges have gyms and PE classes. These are great places to meet healthy people who do fun things on the weekend that don’t involve video games and bongs. Yes, there are lots of buff partiers and partying jocks, but college gyms and PE classes are filled with normal people who just want to be fit and healthy (and look attractive and meet other fit and healthy people).

Set a fitness goal for yourself like a 5k or to swim 50 laps or to bike 35 miles or maybe a sprint triathlon.

Make a training schedule and stick to it. Active.com has a great training site and lists events all over the world.

Get out of bed and get moving; it will change your life!

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How to Tips For Turning  F’s into A’s

How to Use the Syllabus

How to Write a College Paper

How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

How to Study for a Test

How to Organize Your Stuff

How to Wake Up and Go to Class

How to Stay Motivated

How to Select Your Classes

 

How to Organize Your Stuff

Can you get good grades and live in a room like this?
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This is the first of  4,090,000 search results for dorm rooms, so living in a mess is probably not the reason you are flunking college. It seems to be how college kids live.

However, let’s take a closer look at this picture.
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If you do not know where your keys, wallet, phone, AND the syllabus that states“Paper due July 9. Late papers will NOT be accepted” are at this very moment, you are not one of those students who can live like this and be successful.

Steps to Organizing Your Stuff:

1. Put your keys, wallet, bus pass, and phone in the same place everyday. Preferably a place where someone will not accidentally mistake them as their own. Make yourself do this; it will save hours of wasted time and anxiety.

2. Staple each class syllabus to the section of the notebook you use for that class. I like one five section notebook, other people like a notebook for each class. One notebook or five notebooks – keep all of your school materials in one place (a desk is nice, but a table and some drawers next to your bed will do). Buy some extra ink and paper for your printer.

3. Do your dishes immediately after you eat; do not let them sit overnight – one night will become two then seven and before you know it you are throwing away your dishes. Sorry I have no idea how to deal with your roommate’s dishes; I don’t think anyone knows the answer to that question.

4. Just do the laundry. Just do it.

5. Take the garbage out – it smells really bad!

6. Learn the art of shutting things. Close the cabinets, drawers, closet . . . . You would be surprised how much cleaner your living space will feel when you just shut a door.

Notice that I did not tell you to dust, vacuum, or make your bed (although most people find tidiness to be a positive and attractive quality in a person); the key is to be organized, have something clean to wear, and be able to print your paper, get to school, and turn it in on time (not when you find your keys the next day because that late paper “will NOT be accepted”).

How to Tips For Turning  F’s into A’s

How to Use the Syllabus

How to Write a College Paper

How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

How to Study for a Test

How to Organize Your Stuff

How to Wake Up and Go to Class

How to Stay Motivated

How to Select Your Classes

 

How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

I am going to keep this short and sweet.

What is fascinating reading for one’s professor might look more like a lot of words to the rest of us.

Looking at the words and occasionally coloring them with a yellow highlighter is a waste of time.

If you find yourself thinking about anything other than the words including how boring the words are, you need to follow these steps.

Steps for Reading:

1. Either print the material out or read it in a format where you can make comments (copy and paste it into Word).

2. As you read, highlight key terms in green.

3.  Highlight the key ideas and author’s claims in yellow.

3. Insert a text box in the  margin next to each paragraph summarizing what the author is saying (or if you are using printed materials, jot your notes in the margin).

If you do this, you will not drift off and you will understand what you are reading. Highlighting the author’s claims will make the paper you have to write later a lot easier.

I’m just going to pull something out of the New York Times to illustrate how this is done.
Click to enlarge:

imageBy summarizing very briefly after each paragraph, I stayed focused on the article. Your notes do not have to be detailed (or spelled correctly); just a couple of words to keep your mind on the text, and help you recall what was said. You would be surprised how much you can learn from a text when you are not thinking about something else.

How to Tips For Turning  F’s into A’s

How to Use the Syllabus

How to Write a College Paper

How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

How to Study for a Test

How to Organize Your Stuff

How to Wake Up and Go to Class

How to Stay Motivated

How to Select Your Classes

How to Talk to Your Parents

How to Use the Syllabus

Using the syllabus is the first step to getting an A in the class (yes, boring I know).
The professor is telling you exactly what TO DO.

Steps to Using the Syllabus:
1. Print it out.
2. S
taple it to your notebook, so you always have access to it (you really need to do this).
3. READ IT . . . . over and over!

The syllabus is the professor’s way  of showing you what to do; it’s a map for success. She is saying, “Hey, this is all you have to do to get an A in this class.” She is also saying, “Hey, this is all you have to NOT do to get an F in this class.” She is a busy woman, she understands, she went to college, but she has a life , . . . . she has her own dirty dishes and piles of laundry to deal with, she is telling you what to do.

Please do it.

I have highlighted some of the key things one should look for on the syllabus below. Notice how the professor underlines, capitalizes, and uses bold print for what is important for her students to do and WHEN they should do it.

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Following directions is the KEY TO SUCCESS. 

How to Tips For Turning  F’s into A’s

How to Use the Syllabus

How to Write a College Paper

How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

How to Study for a Test

How to Organize Your Stuff

How to Wake Up and Go to Class

How to Stay Motivated

How to Select Your Classes

 

How to Study for a Test

For some reason we live in a society that places value on temporarily memorizing stuff. In the real world you can pull out your phone and type in, “What is the difference between maintenance rehearsal and elaborative rehearsal?” and you will get 14,900 results in approximately .47 seconds. People who can remember stuff sound smart, but interestingly enough on the continuum of thinking skills, memorization is at the bottom.

imageSmart people understand what they have learned; they can analyze and conceptualize and support their opinions using facts and details (which they can pull up on a phone in less than a half second, but please do not do that in social situations because it is really annoying as is spouting off memorized factoids).

When you prepare for an exam, you need to ask yourself one very important question:
Do I 1) just need to get through the exam on Monday,
or 2) need to know and understand the material in order to proceed with what I want to do with my life and/or education?


Answer 1: If you are fulfilling a general ed. class in an effort to transfer to a four year university and you must get a passing grade on Monday’s exam, you can get by with drill and practice (bottom level of thinking skills – WATCH video below).

Answer 2: If you need to know the material for your long term goals, you will want to utilize the highest level of thinking skills to study for the exam and develop a comfortable and confident level of understanding (Highest level thinking skills – CREATE video below – scroll down to Study Steps for Answer # 2).

higher level

We will  look at both approaches to studying for the exam which is scheduled for Monday.

Steps to Studying for a Test on Monday– Answer 1:

Please note it is Friday.
1. Drill and practice – use a free site like
StudyBlue.com to create flashcards and quizzes. In some cases the cards may already be done for you; all you need to do is plug in your professor’s name and the class. Of course, you can also make flashcards on PowerPoint or on index cards, but I like to use sites that will generate a quiz or game with the information I have plugged in.

2. The information you study should be the vocabulary and key concepts you highlighted while reading the assignment (or if you are lucky, your professor’s study guide).

3. Review (read) the flashcards you created a couple of times. The information may seem overwhelming; how can you possibly remember the difference between maintenance rehearsal and elaborative rehearsal along with 38 other concepts?

4. Talk about what you learned in class during the party tonight (stay sober). This might be easier to do with Psych 1 than Math 2, but you never know, you might run into someone who wants to talk about polynomials. Ask your new friend to study with you tomorrow.

Saturday
1.
Okay, go ahead and get your laundry done and clean up your living space (may as well use procrastination in a productive way).

2. Make a deal with yourself that you can do whatever you want to do today after you have studied the flashcards for at least 45 minutes.

3. Tell yourself to look at them for five minutes now (you can do anything for five minutes).

4. NOW

5. That wasn’t so bad was it; did five minutes stretch into 45?

6. In order to remember things especially if you haven’t really learned them (see Steps For Answer 2), you need to make connections that will jog your memory (aka elaborative rehearsal = connecting new information with old). As you look at each card, elaborate on it a bit, make some connection to your life or come up with a clue to help you remember. For instance, if you need to remember the order that something happens make a word or silly phrase out of the first letter of each item in the sequence. Example: If CC P’s = Information – Flashcards- Connection-Clues- Practice,Practice, Practice

7. Practice, practice, practice (aka maintenance rehearsal = rote repetition).

Ya know there is an app for that – standing in line in the grocery store, waiting for the movie to start, no one to talk to at the party; pull your flashcards up on your phone (pretend its reddit).

Sunday
1. Practice, practice, practice early in the day.
2. Have someone quiz you or take the quiz on StudyBlue (or the site of your choice).
3. Make sure you have everything you need for the test: pencil, answer sheet, bluebook, etc. DO THAT NOW!
3. Go to bed at a decent hour.

Monday
1. Eat a good breakfast.
2. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get to the bookstore (if you need something for the test).
3. Relax and enjoy the test. You have nothing to worry about because you studied for it.

Steps for Studying for a Test on Monday– Answer 2:

All of the above plus . . . . using your higher level thinking skills to CREATE, analyze, evaluate . . . .

The absolute best way to learn something (in my opinion) is to understand it well enough to teach it to someone else. Of course the first step to teaching it to someone else, is learning the information.

Hmmm? Did that make sense?

Sitting and listening to the information in class is not really learning. You need to take the key concepts you heard in class and read about in your text, and do something creative with them. If you do not understand them well enough to do something creative with them, you need to gather more information.

Click to enlarge.
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YET another benefit of living in the 21st century; you can do all of this from your bed. When I made my first photo montage of the history of the world in ten minutes, I had to use clothes pins (look it up) to hold photos to a music stand and then take split second shots of them using a camera at a local public TV station because movie cameras didn’t come with the phone (don’t even get my 81 year old rocket scientist step-father started). Needless to say, I have a pretty good sense of the order of how things happened in world history.

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How to Tips For Turning  F’s into A’s

How to Use the Syllabus

How to Write a College Paper

How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

How to Study for a Test

How to Organize Your Stuff

How to Wake Up and Go to Class

How to Stay Motivated

How to Select Your Classes