The 6-year graduation rate for American college students is about 59%. This figure means that 41% of all students that start college do not graduate within 6 years.
If you are starting college this fall, here are 10 tips for success that will help you be part of the 59% that finish.
1. Pick a major. Even if you aren't sure about your major, pick one so that you can start getting some mentoring from department advisors and meet other students.
2. Join a club. It seems that there is a club for every interest out there. Join one. They do cool things and have lots of fun. If you are not sure which club to join, pick one that does public service. For example, most universities have a Habitat for Humanity chapter that builds or fixes houses. Getting involved is a great way to give back to the community and meet positive people.
3. Turn off the social media and participate in class. When I look at the behavior of top students in my classes, the one thing that they all have in common is that they turn off the social media, pay attention, and participate in class.
4. Avoid the partying. The freshman year is a time for experimenting with who you are as an adult. Skip the alcohol and drugs. If you want to be successful in college, avoid temptations and pick your friends wisely.
5. Exercise and eat well. Depression is a common problem among freshman. One of the best ways to avoid depression is to keep a regular exercise regimen and eat healthy foods. However, if you do get depressed, and talking to friends and family doesn't help, do not be afraid to reach out to your university's free counseling center.
6. Recognize that you will be overwhelmed. There will be times that you do not live up to expectations set by you, your family, or your professors in your courses. Talk to your professors and tell them what happened and that you could not get the work done. Sometimes you will get a break. But even if you don't, it's not the end of the world.
7. Take time to attend important campus events. Universities often have very special events a few times a semester that bring in famous writers, speakers, or performers. Attend them and stick around and meet the guests. This may be the only time in your life that you will have this kind of access to noteworthy people.
8. Get to know some of your professors. Profs understand what you are going through. They were in college for at least 9 years and they live the university life. But they are also regular people and can be helpful to you.
9. Touch base with your advisor. Most universities have two advising offices. There is your general advisor that works to ensure you are taking the right general education credits and there is your department advisor. Stop by and check in once in a while with both of them. Doing so will help build relationships with your advisors and they will remember you and give you great advice on things like the best internships or job opportunities.
10. Don't go negative. A common trait among freshmen who are under stress is that they start to complain about everything. Their dorm room is too small. The food sucks. The professors are horrible. Their advisor is mean. There is nothing right in the world for students that go negative. You have a choice in the way you see every situation. You can complain about things or you can see the good in each moment. Who would you rather spend time with? Someone who complains all the time or someone who is positive? In order to stay out of the negativity cycle that destroys college careers, stay on the sunny side of life.