13 Rules Every College Student Needs to Know

Very smart advice from a self-described worst student in the world.

Posted Aug 28, 2012

Sometimes amidst all the books, articles and guides to being the perfect college student, a clear simple voice of wisdom emerges. This voice acknowledges that students aren’t perfect, that they are awkward and anxious and going to make mistakes, that they just need to try again, and that a small thing like saying hello to someone before class can make all the difference in their college experience.

A self-described “worst student in the world” who now just happens to be a Senior Vice Provost for Enrollment and Graduation Management at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. David Laude looks back on his college years and combines his experiences with insight from current students to create a list of 13 “rules” to help any college student succeed. If you are in college, or know someone who is, please share this video. College students will not only learn how to be better students but how not to be bored, how to find time to party, and why it’s OK to be nervous about it all.

The rules are below, but to get the full flavor of Dr. Laude’s wonderful observations, be sure to play the video.

Here’s the link to the You Tube if the embedded video doesn’t work.

1. The first class is very important.

We don’t do anything well the first time. Your first day of class can be overwhelming but it’s important to be there.

2. Be nervous, grasshopper.

It’s OK to be anxious and wake up at 4 in the morning wondering if you’re going to do it right. You’ll figure it out.

3. Get to know your classmates.

Use your time in the hall waiting for class to say hello and meet people. Being able to get a good grade in a class may depend on your connections.

4. Don’t be a loner. It’s inefficient.

Some of the best learning opportunities take place in groups.

5. Get to know your professors.

Ninety percent of the inability of students to develop a relationship with the professor is on the student, not the professor, according to Dr. Laude.

6. Getting to know new people can be really hard. It’s worth the effort, though, and it gets (slightly) easier with practice.

This rule and section of the video will warm the hearts of introverts (and their parents) or anyone who has ever felt awkward or like they don’t fit in.

7. Boring is in the eye of the beholder.

Can you find a way to make the course material interesting to you?

8. Don’t make college harder than it has to be.

There are ways to do your work efficiently.

9. Forethought + discipline = time left over for fun.

You can have fun and still get good grades if you organize your time.

10. Create routines.

Good study habits can be created and become as natural as brushing your teeth. Your brain needs time to absorb what you’re learning.

11. Failure’s inevitable. What’s important is what you do next.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on internal victories- set goals to improve yourself.

12. Success is almost always incremental.

Here’s where you’ll learn why getting a 67 on a test can be a successful experience.

13. College is hard. Life is hard. Be courageous, and be compassionate toward yourself.

If you’re going to achieve something that matters, you will likely fall on your face a dozen times first.

©2012 Katharine Brooks. All rights reserved. Find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo credit: Bradleygee's Photostream Flickr Creative Commons