Setting yourself up for Success

This page discusses strategies on how to set yourself up for success in class

Research has shown that certain strategies for studying work better than others, and some techniques are ineffective or even counter productive.

The main thing is to apply yourself – In every class I find students who: feel forced to take the class; don’t want to work in teams; don’t like the quizzes; don’t like the assignments; don’t like the textbook, and so forth. To fixate on such things is poison to yourself and often to your classmates. You only have two real options (1) take the class (2) drop the class.


Why spend an entire semester “hating” a class? – it is stressful, a waste of time and money, and a recipe for failure. No one likes to do something that they dislike and will often do ANYTHING to avoid it – not a recipe for success.


Research shows that applying yourself; embracing the experience and trying to get the most out of it are keys to success.


Tips for Success

1. Clarify your Goals: What do you want out of this class?


2. Preserve your health: avoid overload, get plenty of sleep, and remember to eat.


3. Never resist sleep when you feel tired.


4. Minimize stress: defined as worry about things you have no control over. A little stress is productive – a lot is debilitating.


5. Refuse interruption: have spaces where you will not be interrupted.


6. Space out repetition to increase knowledge: long sessions and cramming DOES NOT WORK. Shorter session and reviewing does.


A Word on Stimulants

Studies show that caffeine can increase mental acuity IF it is used properly. The correct “prescription” is small amounts combined with high carbohydrate snacks (tea and crumpets anyone?).  Large amounts of caffeine actually DECREASE mental acuity by stimulating flight/fight responses – not the best for higher brain function. However, if you are just looking to jacked up - Red Bull away!


Study Myths

Chewing gum, listening to classical music, taking supplements, doing crosswords, and eating fish do not make you smarter or increase brain capacity.


Study Facts

Aerobic exercise/training increases cognition.

Slow down – speed-reading and multitasking decrease cognition and understanding.

Mix it up  – switching from task to task , spending short amounts of time on different classes, readings, etc, increases retention.

Get Visual – graphic representations of problems or ideas increase retention.