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Fifteen Tips for Those Starting a College Degree

Like most local educational institutions, Azusa Pacific University started classes in August. In this season, my mind invariably goes back to my own educational journey, how it transformed me, and what it took to make it to the end. So, without further ado, here are fifteen tips for those beginning a college degree.

  1. Remind yourself again and again what your education will mean to you, the people you love, and lives you will touch–especially in the hard times.
  2. The support of family and friends will be essential if you are going to make it. Invite their input as you begin and ask for help throughout the journey.
  3. Is a friend or family member a polished writer? Enlist them as your writing coach/editor and reward them for their efforts.
  4. Remember this insurance policy for educational emergencies: exchange phone numbers with one or two classmates in every course.
  5. Build rhythms into your life that will help you stay on task, including when you will study, rest, play, and eat.
  6. Pay attention to the times and places that are the most conducive to study. Return there again and again.
  7. If you work better with others around, find a study buddy. If not, find a quiet place and/or a set of headphones.
  8. If you must be on the road for extended periods, redeem the time by streaming your text books or phoning the important people in your life.
  9. Get to know your profs. Visit during office hours, greet them before or after class, and learn what interests them. These small efforts can yield huge benefits when you’re looking for a reference letter, a job, or a mentor.
  10. Learn to say “no.” There are countless celebrations and important events that will need to be set aside so that you can say “yes” when asked, “Did you graduate?”
  11. Take advantage of student discounts. It’s not just the movies–both Amazon Prime and Apple Music offer benefits for students.
  12. Understanding your university’s online learning management systems is essential to your success. If you are tech-challenged or run into problems with the system, ask for help from a classmate or utilize resources the university provides.
  13. Take advantage of tools such as Google Drive, Drop Box, OneDrive, or iCloud that allow you to save information/work online and access it on your phone, tablet, or computer. It’s always nice to be able to knock out homework in a line or at a waiting room!
  14. Keep close tabs on your academic plan to ensure you finish on time. Enlist the help of an advisor or faculty member if you have questions.
  15. Finally, take time to celebrate milestones. Completing your degree can be a long journey, but celebrating the completion of major assignments, classes, and semesters will strengthen you for the road before you.

Written by Dr. Drake Levasheff

Drake Levasheff, PhD, Senior Director, Murrieta Regional Campus Azusa Pacific University.

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