College Success: Making it Happen
Office for Student Affairs
Center for Teaching and Learning
The successful U of M student possesses responsibility & accountability, so:
; Sit front and center in your classes. Research shows that students who sit in this “action zone” are more engaged in class and
; Ask questions during class, office hours or via email. Don’t hesitate to get clarification, examples, or further explanation if you
; Answer questions during class. Your professors and TAs ask because they care about what you think and want to find out how
well you understand the material.
; Clarify assignments as needed and complete them on time.
; Get your reading and homework done before classes.
; Make sure you have time for all the classes and activities you become involved in so you can avoid canceling or skipping
The successful U of M student demonstrates independence & interdependence, so:
; Visit your instructor in office hours early during the semester even if you don’t have questions. Research shows that more
learning takes place when the teacher and student share background information.
; Get to know your instructor. Use her name and make sure she knows yours. This may be beneficial in the long run, especially
if you need to discuss your grade or get a letter of recommendation.
; Find out about your instructors’ research interests. It may open doors for you to do future research with them.
; Get to know other students in your classes by name.
; Facilitate communication among students or between a student and instructor if you see breakdowns occur.
; Form study groups with other students in your classes. Meet regularly or just for homework and exam prep. (Find out first
from the instructor if it’s OK to work on assignments together.)
; Recognize when you need help and know where to get it. For papers, go to the Writing Center; for homework, go to tutoring or
; Think of your TAs as a bridge between you and the material. If you don’t understand or need clarification, ask for help. They
are there to assist you.
The successful U of M student demonstrates goal orientation, so:
; Talk to your advisor early and often to plan and maintain your educational goals.
; Make time to study every night even if only for an hour. If you set up a reasonable schedule, you’ll be more likely to stick to it
and stay on track.
; Don’t worry if you don’t know what to major in. Take classes that interest you and fill the prerequisites to see what subject
areas interest you. And remember you can always change your mind. A declared major is not set in stone.
; Use assignment calculator to manage homework, papers and exams.
; Decide for yourself what you want to get out of each class.
; Follow through on e-mails and important messages from instructors, advisors, employers and classmates.
; Stay on track for graduation. Although college is a place for meeting new, diverse people and exploring who you are, mainly it
is for education. Find a balance between hanging out with your new friends, extracurricular activities and your course work.
The successful U of M student possesses self-awareness, so:
; Answer questions and express opinions with self-assurance.
; Don’t necessarily follow the crowd. College is a place for self-discovery. Feel confident in who you are and always think for
; Know when you’re wrong or you’ve made a mistake. Admit it. Take responsibility and move on.
; Don’t be afraid to ask if someone else has a better idea.
The successful U of M student demonstrates resilience, so:
; Be willing to stick your neck out and take risks even if you fall. Failure is part of the learning process. It’s a good way to see
what you’re made of.
; Be forgiving if your instructor has a bad teaching day. Come next time with an open mind and a readiness to learn.
; Don’t let one bad presentation or grade bring down your morale.
; Don’t give up. Things aren’t as bad as they seem sometimes.
; Realize that everyone makes mistakes, and that it’s not the end of the world. If you get a bad grade, talk to your instructor to
see what you can do to improve.
; Use other sources of information if your professor is unavailable or doesn’t match your learning style (TAs, study groups,
tutors, online resources).
The successful U of M student appreciates differences, so:
; Realize that college is a diverse, multi-cultural environment. Not everyone agrees on every issue. Be open to new ideas and
courteous when you disagree.
; Be aware of your own cultural biases. Each of us has a culture that impacts how we behave, and how we understand and
interact with other people.
; Be inquisitive about instructors and classmates whose culture or language differs from yours. Ask them about their native
country or culture.
; Avoid negative responses such as rolling your eyes if an instructor or classmate confuses you. Show empathy and work toward
; If instructors don’t understand you, be OK with rephrasing your comments and questions.
; Speak more slowly and simply if it will help your instructor or classmates understand you.
; Have an inclusive attitude toward other people’s ideas in groupwork and class discussion.
; Be ready and willing to challenge or defend your own values and beliefs.
; Embrace new ideas and be willing to incorporate them into your way of being.
The successful U of M student demonstrates tolerance of ambiguity, so:
; Be ready for college to be more complicated than high school. You may be juggling classes, course work, one or two jobs,
extracurricular activities, financial aid, dorm life, new friendships, and more. You probably won’t have someone telling you
what to do first, and you will sometimes have to think about an assignment or reading before you actually begin to understand
; Recognize that some important questions that will arise in the classroom and in life in general will not always have clear,
“black or white” answers.
; Know that it may take awhile to adjust. Be aware of how you are managing yourself and your time in this new environment.
Center for Teaching and Learning
Office for Student Affairs