Be successful here at NIU with these 3 easy tips! Guaranteed!

By Aaron Brooks

Welcome back! And for those new students: what is up! Summer in DeKalb was certainly peaceful, but it is so nice to know that there will finally be more action around town.

Whether you are a freshman or an upperclassman, the best thing about returning to college is the freedom: freedom to dictate your schedule, choose your own meals and party all night long.

I remember the day my parents moved me into the dorms for my first semester; keeping a sad expression on my face until they got out of view was the hardest thing I ever had to do.

Reminiscing, I did not go that wild and out. I still bathed on a daily basis, kept my room clean (tip: ladies love it) and went to most of my classes; however, I did not study well. After my classes, I went to my buddy’s house, played basketball, went to the bars and basically everything but study. 

In the freshmen classes I took, there was no daily homework and the tests were not that difficult, but I did have research papers due at the end of the semester. I had a very nervous November. Luckily, two weeks of living in the library paid off, and I finished with a 3.5 grade point average.

I do not recommend doing the two-week cram session. Instead, here are some easy tips to minimize stress, learn the most and enjoy your semester.

Success Tip No. 1: Instead of pulling all-nighters, just stay on top of your work. Sure, have some fun while the weather is nice and classes are not in full swing, but devote 30 minutes a week to each of your research projects, and you’ll be golden by the end of October. 

This is supported by John Skowronski, a psychology professor who is familiar with research on learning. Information provided to me by Skowronski states that learning is optimal when a student spends time-on-task (studying), has time to think about the material and when learning is spread out over time (space rehearsals). 

As Skowronski would advise, “Read early, read often, think as you read, and rehearse (e.g. via flashcards or self-tests) repeatedly over time.”

Success Tip No. 2: Go to class. Some lectures are less engaging than staring at a wall, but going to class will never hurt you.  If you find yourself bored, then occupy yourself by doing homework for that class or reading ahead.

This tip is brought to you by Shevawn Eaton, director of ACCESS, NIU’s free tutoring service. She encourages students who feel like they are falling behind to seek help from their professors or tutors as soon as possible, since both professors and tutors become in high demand near the end of the semester. Tutors can help improve a student’s note taking skills, study habits and explain course content.

Success Tip No. 3 is summarized best by the words of Dana Gautcher, coordinator of the Office for Student Academic Success. She said, “Own your campus and show your Huskie pride through staying on campus, joining an organization or intramurals, experiencing the arts and supporting Huskie athletics, volunteering and having fun.” The Office of Student Academic Success coordinates outreach, programming and resources to assist students throughout their academic career. 

Basically, stay involved. NIU is a great university, and if you make the most of it you can get the same education as some ninny paying $40K a semester in tuition at Harvard. 

Have a good semester and remember to study hard; you do not want the fall semester to be your last.