Library Front Cut
Eli M Oboler Library, Courtesy of

This may seem incredibly obvious, but academics are key part of college. However, many students come into college thinking that it will require the same amount of effort that high school did. Sorry to break it to you, but college is a whole other ballgame with it’s own set of rules. Lucky for you, I’m here to give you some tips to help you tackle those difficult classes. As a disclaimer, not all of these will work for you, but it’s important to try things out and figure out what is the best way to help yourself succeed.

  1. Go to class.
    It’s been proven that students who have consistent attendance will do better than students who only show up for the tests. Soon you will discover that some professors have mandatory attendance, and will dock your final grade if you don’t show up. A potential upside to consistently going to class is extra credit. Often times, professors will reward perfect attendance with extra credit, or surprise students on a random day with a few points of extra credit.  However, going to class is much more than just showing up. Make the most while in class and get involved. Ask questions about the material, and answer the professor’s questions once in awhile. This leads me to the next point.

    Courtesy of
  2. Learn to take notes.
    During class, jot some notes down! Don’t ever assume your professor will put the lecture slides up on Moodle. However, find a way that works for you. I like to color coordinate my notes. Others use the Cornell Method, the simple outlining method, or charting. Whatever method you use- just make sure it helps you retain the information. During class discussions, make sure you write down key points. If a professor discloses what material will be on the next exam or quiz, WRITE IT DOWN. 
  3. Be organized.
    I strongly suggest getting a planner and writing down all of the important dates for each class after receiving the class syllabus. This will help you with time management and help you remember important dates. (Nothing is worse than missing a test or major assignment because you forgot to write it down.) If you’re not the planner type, use Google Calendar! You can put in important dates and reminders that can be sent straight to your phone. Having a binder for every single class isn’t necessary, but I do recommend having some method to organizing each class. Whether it’s by having M,W,F classes in one big binder with dividers for each class, and T, R, classes in another, or simply having large portfolio with a pocket for each class, learn to separate all of your classes notes, assignments, and other paper material given to you. This will make studying and staying on top of course load much easier on you. 
  4. Go to office hours.
    Professors usually have a minimum of two office hours each week. The point of office hours is simply to help students succeed. Professors understand that some students may have questions they may have not had time to address during class, or may need clarification on upcoming assignments. I promise you that going to office hours will only help you. Professors will not be angry at you for not understanding something, or think that you’re dumb. From my own personal experience, I know that professors are happy that students take the initiative to make sure they actually absorb the information professors give out. Beyond helping you in class, going to office hours will also help you build a relationship with your professors. This may lead to getting letters of recommendation from them, nominating you for jobs and awards, and opening up so many opportunities for you! 
  5. Find a study habit that works for you.
    Like I mentioned before, college is nothing like high school. I quickly learned that although I cruised through my high school classes, I could not keep that up in college if I wanted good grades. Finding a way to study that works for you, is absolutely essential. Some people use the study buddy method, or they form study groups within their classes. Flashcards, reviewing notes while listening to classical music, and having roommates quiz you, are all options you can explore. What works for your friends, may not work for you and that is okay.

    Math Center at the Student Success Center, Courtesy of Idaho State University
  6. Use school resources!
    At Idaho State University, there are SO many resources that help students achieve academic success!

    If you find yourself struggling with a class, get a tutor. They’re free at ISU! The Student Success Center also offers writing and math centers for students. You can stop by at the Student Success Center in the Rendezvous, room 323, and to get a tutor for a specific class.
    You can also find the form here: If you need help picking classes, talk to your advisor! You can find out who this is by accessing BengalWeb and exploring DegreeWorks. Your advisor’s name and contact information is located at the very top of the page.You can also go the Central Academic Advising center and schedule a meeting. They’re located in the Museum Building, room 307.

    You can visit their website for more details:


Regardless of what type of student you were in high school, it’s important to remember that it is not the same experience. College is incredibly challenging, but so, so fun. Despite the opportunities you’ll have to have fun, the entire point of college is getting a degree. By remembering this, and building strong academic habits early, you will only set yourself up for success. In the end, grades are NOT everything in college, but they are still incredibly important. So crack open a book, send an email to your professor and ask for help. Idaho State University is more than happy to help all of its students thrive.