Tips for Academic Success | Counseling | Therapy

Tips for Academic Success

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You want to start next semester off right so below you will find tips for achieving academic success. In order to do well, you must first set yourself up for success. One way you can do this is by setting up an effective academic learning environment, developing your time management and scheduling skills, better understanding your academic interests, and balancing your outside influences with your academic commitments. After you have spent some time preparing for academic succces, these tips will help you to start off your new semester successfully.

Planning a successful academic learning environment.

  • Decide on a place to complete your work: Routines work! By deciding on an academic learning environment, your body and mind will be ready to complete your assignments when you are there. Just like your body is ready to eat at the kitchen table, decide on where your body is ready to write, read, and study.
  • Set time aside for distractions: If you work well with music or background noise than that is not a distraction, but a tool to help you learn. Your cell phone, the television, and internet searches can all be sources of distraction. Decide on times when you can take breaks to distract yourself. Managing your distractions will help you to be more successful.
  • Reach out for support and resources: You will only get as much out of school as you put in. Reach out for extra support. Create opportunities to enhance your academic environment. Create regular times to meet with professors. Set up tutoring support at the beginning of semester. Take the initiative!

Planning your time management and scheduling successfully.

  • Track your time: Take a few days to record your time so that you know where it goes. You will be surprised how quickly time adds up.
  • Look at your syllabus: Read through each of your syllabi fully. Decide when all your assignments are due. This will give you a better understanding of all your requirements throughout the term. Knowing this information will help you to better schedule and manage your time.
  • Put all your classes and course requirements in your schedule: You cannot change you class schedule. Put your schedule in your calendar. You have to attend class. After you put all your course requirements in your schedule, put all other mandatory events on your schedule (work, outside activities). . Put this into a calendar so you can see all that is required of you. Then if you notice things all piling up on the same week figure out what work can be done ahead of time this way you can stagger your work load. Also, put in when you will have completed the rough drafts, and times to talk with your professor.
  • Then put in the fun activities that are not mandatory but that you would like to do: Try to make sure that you are not overloaded. While busy people are productive, it is easy to go overboard and find yourself overwhelmed and unable to live in the moment.
  • Decide on your priorities: During your time in school you have to decide on your priorities. If you have decided to pursue school, I hope it falls at the top of your priority list. Decide on what other activities and life events are important to you. Maybe it’s to party… maybe it’s to become the leader of the frat house… where do you want to put your energy… what do you want to learn from college.

Pursuing your academic interests

  • Try on different majors: Many schools allow you to take some time before deciding on a major. Use the first few semesters to take your general education classes. This will allow you to get a better understanding of the different options you have, while taking classes you will need towards your degree!
  • Choose a minor or two: Minors are a great way to boost your academic profile, knowledge, and resume. Many times you can pick up a minor easily. You may have to start planning this early in the process so you can use some of your general education or elective courses towards the minor. It would be great to speak with your academic advisor about how you could successfully minor and graduate on time.
  • Seek out an internship: Internships are perfect tools to help students get real world experience. You do not always know how you will like something until you try it. Take opportunities to find internships that allow you to try on the career you want after graduation. You will need to do some work to get an internship, they are not just handed to you. Sometimes schools will even allow you to pursue an internship for college credit. This is also a great resume booster. If you feel like you do not have the time commitment to pursue an internship, try shadowing a professional in your career field or contact someone who is in the field to get a more accurate perspective. Better yet, attend a school sponsored career fair.
  • Speak with graduates or professors about career opportunities: The best people to speak to are graduates/alumni of your program and your professors. These people have been where you are. Ask them questions. Schools usually have opportunities for students to interact with alumni. These people have been successful in their careers, which make them great mentors.
  • Try auditing or sitting in on a class: Schools have varying policies about auditing or sitting in on a class. When you audit or sit in on a class you are not “technically taking the course for credit. This is a chance to get the feel for the class or major without any true commitment. You will want to ask your school about their policies.
  • Get to know you professors: Your professors will be one of your most valuable resources. They will receive information about internship opportunities, have contacts within your field, and can help you navigate graduate school (You will need them for letters of recommendation). Talk with other students about the professors they have had and their teaching style. There could be a professor who works best for your personal learning style. This could make your learning experience and the academic material more enjoyable. Stop by and even get extra academic support during their office hours. Bring them your questions, rough drafts, etc. Seek out extra feedback. They are teachers. Their job is to teach you.

Successfully balancing outside Influences

  • Set up personal boundaries: Feel okay saying no! You do not always have to be at every event, say yes to every social request, or sign up for all the clubs. You are in school to get a degree. Prioritize your time. If you have completed all your assignments, reward yourself.
  • Reach out for support: College campuses offer a wealth of supports to aid in your academic success. These supports include counseling centers, student health centers, academic advisors, learning support services, financial aid officers, and office hours. There may also be different clubs that may help you gain extra support for your different life events and experiences.
  • Set realistic expectations: Sometimes you cannot always get the wanted A. It is completely okay to receive a grade of B or even C. When life is requiring you to wear many hats, you will need to set realistic expectations for yourself. Remember to focus on learning the material, instead of needing a grade. You will always want to work towards doing your best, but if you are managing multiple priorities you may not be able to give them all 100%. That is okay.
  • Be honest: It is important to be honest with the people around you. If you are experiencing difficulties, share that experience with someone you trust and feel safe confiding in. If you feel badly about not being able to balance your time, share that with the people you feel you are neglecting. Trust that people will be able to understand your current situation. These conversations will allow you to develop more successful management of your time.


There are many ways to problem solve and navigate the obstacles you face trying to achieve academic success. The tips above are a starting point. You may find yourself in need of extra support during this process. If you are looking to work with a mental health therapist at The Center for Growth/ Sex Therapy in Philadelphia to continue your journey towards academic success, please call 215 922 5683 x 100 and speak with one of our therapists. We have offices in Center City Philadelphia, Ocean City NJ, Mechanicsville VA and Santa Fe NM.

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