7 Simple Tips to Succeed In College

September 9, 2015


7 Simple Tips to Succeed in College 

With school now well under way, it means stress is looming just around the corner. There are tests, quizzes and final exams, all while maintaining a social life. Being a successful college student is a daunting task, but doable with a little planning and preparation. Here are a few tips and tricks to start prepping now before the first exam sneaks up on you:

  • Go to class. It doesn’t get more obvious than that, but late nights and early morning classes make hitting snooze pretty appealing. Life has a tendency to get in the way and when a professor doesn’t take attendance, it’s easy to make excuses to skip class. If you want to know what you’ll need to study, it’s best to get it straight from the source.
  • Take good notes. Using a laptop or tablet makes jotting down important tidbits quick and easy, but also carries the heavy temptation of distractions, like checking emails or blowing up Twitter with #MostBoringLectureEver updates. If you are going the good old fashion route of pen and paper note-taking, use different ink colors or highlighters for marking potential vocab words, important facts or when your professor flat out says, “This is going to be on the test.”
  • Start studying now. Maybe your first test won’t be for another few weeks, but now is the perfect time to start committing information to your long term memory. Spend just a few minutes each day reviewing your notes or create a small stack of flash cards to have an easy, portable study tool to use. Set aside small chunks of time every day and when test day arrives, you’ll find most of the information is much easier to recall.
  • Find a study buddy. Get together with a classmate or two to divide and conquer the class materials. Take turns learning about different sections and teaching it to one another. When you are able to teach the subject to someone else and answer their questions, chances are you have a firm understanding of the core concept and can move onto mastering the next one.
  • Set up a study-only zone. When it comes to effective study, the key is location, location, location. Remove yourself from potential distractions by avoiding areas with televisions, radios, friends or even your phone. Conveniently, the library has already done this for you which makes it an ideal location. But if it’s after hours or you don’t live near one, find a room at home with the least ambient noise. Ideally, silence is the most conducive for effective study time.
  • Schedule your distractions. A general rule of thumb is for every hour of class, you should have two hours for studying and completing assignments. Schedule a short ten to fifteen minute break during study time to use the bathroom, move around a bit and check Facebook. Set an alarm to mark the beginning of your break so you won’t feel the need to compulsively check the clock and a second alarm to sound when it’s time to get back to work.
  • Be physically ready on exam day. It’s tempting to spend a few extra hours of cram time the night before a big test, but being bleary-eyed and exhausted during the exam is far more harmful to your grades. Avoid caffeine the night before as it stays in your system up to 8 hours and instead aim for 8 hours of sleep and getting a filling breakfast. The energy will help you power through your exam and keep your stomach from being a growling distraction.

Keep calm and test on!

Heart of Florida United Way believes education, both in and out of the classroom, is a lifelong experience and the most influential factor in ensuring a child will grow up to succeed.  To help ensure students get the education they deserve, we fund many programs that serve people from cradle through career, such as mentoring and tutoring services, literacy initiatives, food pantries, medical services and clothing. To get help, please call the 2-1-1 Information and Assistance line. For more information about how Heart of Florida United Way invests in education, visit our website.  


United Way at Work: YMCA Achievers

August 25, 2015


When speaking with Mina Ford, Executive Director with YMCA of Central Florida Teen Achievers, her passion is contagious. This is more than a job to her and YMCA Achievers is more than just a program; this is Mina’s calling.

“When my son was in 7th grade, I was looking for a program for him to help him grow,” she said. “We found the YMCA Achievers. First I was involved with them as a parent, then when I saw their great work, I became a volunteer eventually became a member of the part-time staff.”

After spending time as a PT staff and seeing her son off to college and then graduate school, YMCA Achievers became Mina’s passion and she became a full-time employee.

Mina’s dedication is easy to understand due to the great work the United Way-funded YMCA Achievers program accomplishes. Focused on college and career readiness, the program helps students look beyond middle school and high school and encourages them to think of their future.

The Corporate partnerships provide volunteers to facilitate career and college sessions working together as group mentors.  Achievers provides exposure and introduces students to different careers and educational paths.

The program prepares students for the transition to college life. For many, they have never spent time away from home before. The Achievers program organizes college tours, visit the dorms and eat at the cafeteria to get a real taste of college life.

To help students think about their fields of study, the Achievers invites industry leaders and experts to talk with the students.

“We will bring in nurses or healthcare professionals to speak to those interested in a medical career for example,” said Mina. “By bringing in active professionals, it gives them snapshots of what those jobs are like and what kind of skills and education they will need.”

Once they have a goal in mind, students are coached in career readiness. Serving Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, volunteers in the program help prepare resumes and teach how to handle professional correspondence, helping students prepare to have real jobs.

Since its inception 25 years ago, the YMCA Achievers program has served over 11,000 students, including 150 funded by United Way this past year. The Achievers program gives students a real opportunity at improving their future and paving the way for success, key tenants of United Way’s philosophy.

For more information about YMCA Achievers or how to volunteer, visit the YMCA website.  

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