Vice Dean of NCI's School of Computing, Paul Stynes, offers up his tops tips for college students.
1. Attend your lectures
You will probably be tired of people saying this but it’s worth repeating: college life is very different to school. The emphasis is on independent learning – which means that your lecturers won’t be on your back in the same way that your parents or teachers might have been. This makes it very tempting to miss the odd lecture but I can’t emphasise enough that for most students, attendance is fundamental to academic success. I will often cover areas that aren’t in the textbooks and go into topics in much greater depth. I will also give advice on assignments, on studying and on exams which will help you to successfully get a degree. I’ve definitely noted a correlation between the students who fail and the students who don’t turn up for their lectures.
2. Know your learning style
At NCI we work with students to identify their preferred style of learning, which helps people to revise better and ultimately, to perform better academically. Individual preferences can be used to help develop more effective strategies for learning, and can determine how you take in information, how you should study and how you should prepare for an exam. One of my mantras is “learn more with less effort”.
3. Get to know your lecturers
Introduce yourself after the lecture or alternatively stop by our office or email us if you have a question. It might sound intimidating but by and large we are a fairly approachable lot. Getting to know us means that we’re getting to know you too – don’t be just another face in the crowd.
4. Take all the help that’s on offer
Avail of all the learning development support that is provided. This can range from study skills to time management and critical thinking. It’s free and it will help you with your course. Read more about the student supports at NCI.
5. Make friends in your class
Apart from all the usual social reasons, befriending someone in your class will give you more incentive to attend your lectures and you’ll also have somebody to discuss things with. Also, just in case one of you really, really has to miss something (and see point number 1 before you do), you’ll also have somebody to trade your lecture notes with.
6. Hit the ground running
My students always seem to be surprised when the exams loom –they come around much sooner than you’d think! Try not to let things overwhelm you. Keep up with your reading, do plenty of library research (why not follow the library on Facebook?), complete your assignments and attend your lectures from the outset. It might sound boring, but start as you mean to go on, and you’ll have taken the first step towards academic and personal success.
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