How to Empower your Student to be Academically Successful in College

How to Empower your Student to be Academically Successful in College

By: LeNelle Patrick; Academic Coaching Coordinator in Exploratory Studies

Students in Exploratory Studies have found Academic Coaching to be a wonderful resource for those experiencing academic difficulty. When talking with students, I often hear students say “I never had to study in high school” and “Someone always got me out of bed in the morning when I was in high school.” This can be a challenging transition for students, as there is no one to tell students when to go to bed and when to study. Time Management is a very common problem for college students, especially freshman. Here are some useful tips on how to empower student to be successful in college.

  • Students need to write down all graded assignments in one place. This could be done through a physical calendar/planner or online through a service like Google Calendar. Google Calendar is a helpful resource as it has the capability to set reminders when things are due and through different mediums. Some students prefer to use a physical calendar where they can use the monthly calendar to write down when things are “due” but then use the weekly calendar to put items that they need to “do.” To encourage students to use their calendar, I suggest using this tool to organize both personal and academic responsibilities.
  • Create a routine for studying. For example, establishing a daily routine of going to class and then heading to the library between that and the next class to get homework done. If a routine is established AND followed then more schoolwork gets done. Ask your students where they study. If they are primarily studying in their dorm room, consider suggesting they try another place like a study lounge, the library, or even in Talley to see if it will help improve their concentration.
  • Try not to sleep during the day. While naps can be tempting, sleeping too long can interfere with the quality and duration of sleep at night. The average college student goes to bed around midnight. Talk to your student about their sleep schedule.
  • When creating a study plan, be specific. For example, read 10 pages of History, start an outline for the English paper, etc. The more specific you are with your plan, the more you will be successful in getting your work done … and overall decrease procrastination. For example, students should study for 45 minutes, take a break for 10-15 minutes and then repeat. If your students study plan is not working, suggest that they talk to their academic advisor for some useful tips and strategies to be more successful.
  • Use positive self-talk. Encouragement and intrinsic motivation can be essential to getting tasks accomplished.
  • Use your Strengths in college. Every one of us has many strengths, but we do always recognize these strengths as such. Sometimes we need someone else to point these strengths out and encourage us. We tend to know and focus on our weaknesses, but talking about our weaknesses does not produce change, just more negative self-talk. Help your student see how amazing they are and encourage them to use their strengths.
  • Study on campus. If your student is a commuter, they may need to stay on campus to study. It can be difficult to study at home because there may be distractions that make it difficult to focus.
  • Get involved. We have over 600 clubs and organizations at NC State. Encourage your student to get involved with at least one student organization on campus if possible. This can provide some balanced socialization and aid them in making campus feel more like home. Joining an organization can be beneficial in many ways, but help your student to remember that academics always come first.
  • Start early with all assignments. There may seem like plenty of time to get a project finished, but you never know what might pop up. It is always a safe bet to start an assignment early, rather then worry about it not getting done or having to give up another great opportunity to complete the assignment before the deadline.

Here is a study plan that our students enjoy and find helpful. Students need to preview material for each class in order to be engaged in class but also review notes after each class. Leaving plenty of time to study can also be helpful. Typically, when students have a test on a Thursday they need to start studying on Sunday. When students review each day over a period of time, cramming is not needed for their test because the knowledge is in their long term memory. This also helps students feel more confident walking into their test.

If your student earns a poor grade on a test or paper, try to not to ask them “Why” they earned that grade. Rather, consider asking them what they could do differently next time to better prepare for the next test. This might entail going to their professors’ office hours and asking questions, joining a study group, getting a tutor, or maybe studying over a longer period of time. Helping your student think critically in this way helps your student take responsibility of their school work and make changes to their study process.

Have you ever asked your student how college was going and they replied “Fine?” What is fine? Ask them “what does fine look like?” Generally, they will tend to tell you more about their classes, their roommate, friends, etc if you ask that second question. Additionally, sometimes students can bring concerns to you that they might be dealing with in college and want you to solve the problem. A great strategy might be asking them “What do you think you should do?” to help your student to develop strong problem solving and critical thinking skills with support from you.

I always end my coaching meetings with students every week by asking “What went well this week and what do you need to work on.” My hope is that by helping our students think positively and focus on ways to improve their study skills they can continue to be successful here at NC State. Conrad Hilton said, “Success… seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Hopefully this quote might inspire your student to keep working through their second semester at NC State. Thank you for reading this post. I hope it has given you some new ideas to help your student be successful this semester. If you are looking for some additional study skill strategies, check out our website!

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