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College Expectations and Success

Whether you are just out of high school or an adult returning to school, attending college marks the beginning of a significant and exciting change in your life. What can you really do to ensure your success in your studies? Here are some tips that will help you make this important transition.

Know What Is Expected 

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The college environment differs greatly from previous levels of education, and using the same approach to academic studies simply doesn't work. It is important to be open to making the necessary adjustments to ensure your success.

Below are some links to information about what is expected of you as a college student. Print the material you find most relevant.

The Transition from High School to College

High School versus College Check out this list of key differences between high school and college expectations. Any area you feel might be troublesome for you, look for handouts on the Academic Success Center web site that will help you. Also think about working with tutors as they provide academic support your high school teacher did. (Louisiana State University)

Preparing for the Transition—So you're going to college: Is everything cool? Read how to put going to college in perspective. (Muskingum College)


College Survival Tips

College Survival Tips Some realities to consider and common sense ways to help you handle them (

Ten Tips You Need to Survive College Effective strategies if you use them! (Middle Tennessee State University)

Follow-up Planning/College Success More practical, useful tips! (Evergreen Valley College)

Academic Success Tips Especially for international students, and good for everyone! (University of Michigan)

College Study Cycle Start out using effective study habits. This short handout give you a clear idea of the study process that works for learning the material in your college courses. (Louisiana State University)

Tips for Parents of College Students

College Expectations: Parents—How to Talk with and Support Your College Student Attending college after high school is frequently a difficult transition—for students and parents alike. The strategies listed offer information about and examples of how to talk with and offer support to your college freshman.

Know Yourself

International college studentsCollege life is a new beginning. Now is the time to redefine yourself as a student. At the same time, you need to be realistic.

Take these quick learning assessments to see how you stand in relation to college success. Also refer to the ASC Learning Styles information.

The more you know about where you are, the better you can adopt the behaviors that help you reach your academic goals.

Temperament Sorter II A self-test to assess your personality (AdvisorTeam)


Know Basic College Vocabulary

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Knowing the language used in the college catalog, class schedule, and by counselors and faculty is important. Here are some references to help you. While most of the vocabulary is universal, you may encounter some terms not used at SWC.

The more you know, the easier it is!

College Survival Vocabulary (Bellevue Community College)

To learn the terms that are the most meaningful to you, follow suggestions given in the following handouts:

Effective Vocabulary and Dictionary Strategies

Links for Improving Your Vocabulary


Know How to Choose Your Classes

Because there are many options for scheduling classes, it is important to understand how and when you best learn. Pay attention to what works for you!

  • SWC Catalog 03College Materials: Learn to read the college catalog and class schedules. When you have questions, go to Admissions (or appropriate office), see a counselor, or meet with an instructor.
  • Class Format: Traditional classes versus those offered online, day versus evening, weekdays or weekends—each has advantages and disadvantages. Match your learning styles and most effective learning times with the class delivery options.
  • Spacing of Classes: Spacing of classes is also important. Keep breaks between each course. This is your most effective learning threshold as it allows you time to review the information immediately after the class you completed and prepare for the one that comes next. Use this time and you will see your memory and recall of class lectures and discussions increase significantly.
  • Choosing College Classes: Here's advice on how to schedule your first year classes and increase your success. Choosing College Classes (College Board)
  • Choosing Professors: What should you consider when you select the instructors for your classes? This handout has several points to consider. Choosing Professors (ASC)
  • Choosing Your College Major: Here are some reasons for choosing your major carefully.
    • You are about to invest several years of your life in studying a subject in great detail. You'll be most successful in your major, and subsequent career, if you're truly interested.
    • College can be a big investment of your time and money, so to maximize your psychological and financial payback make sure the major you choose points you in the right direction.

    • There are many careers that favor or even require one degree over another. If you're interested in a particular career find out which majors are required or recommended before you choose one.

    • Choosing a major is not a decision that should be made in two hours, two days, or even two weeks. Research all your options and keep an open mind. Once you've narrowed the list of majors and careers that seem interesting, take classes in the major and talk to your professors about the possibilities. Pursue internships and jobs where you can get hands-on experience and talk to people working in the field. If you are not excited by the subject matter or can't see yourself in that type of career, then move on to others. (Originally posted on the CollegeBoard site)

    • Check out the SWC Career Center!

Know the Learning Skills That Will Help You Succeed

For extensive information about college learning skills, click on other study skills listed on the Learning Links content page. Bookmark this site and refer to it often.

The links below will give you a good overview.

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College Study Cycle This short handout give you a clear idea of the study process that works for learning the material in your college courses. (Louisiana State University)

How to Take on College Studying (College Board)

Controlling Your Own Study Behavior (University of Victoria)

Avoiding Study Traps (ASC/DSEA)


Know Available SWC Student Resources

College is a community of learners of which you are a part. As with any community, there are support systems available.

Student & counselorFour SWC links that will be helpful are the following:

Student Services

Academic Success Center

ASC Learning Links and OWL

Two additional links may also be of value:

Free College Resources Get help meeting college demands (College Board)

Credit Card Smarts Take charge of your cards (College Board)


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This site was created and is maintained by Barbara J. Speidel, SWC Academic Success Center Coordinator. @ Barbara J. Speidel

The ASC logo was created by Andrew C. Rempt. @ Andrew C. Rempt

Southwestern College