Upon graduating I got a job at a small business college working in student support. I worked with students who were having issues with things like grades, financial aid, scheduling, etc. Here are some tips for surviving college when things are not going your way.
1. Keep a paper trail.
This means don’t throw away your homework, your tests, etc. Keep them in a folder. You can throw away the folder (if you want) when the class is over and the grades are in a book.
2. Keep your emails.
In fact if it’s an important one, you may want to print it out and put it in the folder from step one. Also be aware that even when you are frustrated, act in a professional manner. Most of the time you are working with people who will be the people who help you. Screaming and calling names to the person who is going to help you is not a great way to start the process.
3. Know the syllabus.
A syllabus is similar to a contract with you and the professor. It shows you exactly what to expect. It is the most important part of paperwork you receive in each class. It is the road map to good grades. Also if you have a problem with a professor, the first thing the college will look at is the syllabus.
4. Follow up, and get it in writing.
Realize that people in the school’s office are people and they do (unfortunately) make mistakes. If a school employee says they will do something for you, don’t take them at their word. This does not mean call them a liar, but instead follow-up or ask for proof (have them copy you on an email for example) so you KNOW without a doubt that whatever they promised to do was actually done. So follow-up with the school if they do not alert you that a certain task has been done. If you are told this over the phone, ask for the person’s name, and ask then to send you this information in an email so you have it in writing. This is your future we’re talking about, so be nice, but get it in writing.
5. Register Early
One of the ways you can help the school is to register for your classes as early as possible. This helps ensures you get the classes you want, and helps the staff (as one of the reason mistakes are made is they get swamped two days before the registration deadline).
6. Get Your Road Map
Your degree or program should have some sort of listing of all the classes you will be taking to graduate. Make sure you have one, and mark off the classes as you take them. When you first start this process it is depressing as it seems you have so far to go. As you move through your degree, you will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It keeps you motivated. It will also help you when it comes time to schedule classes as you know which classes you need.
Thanks to Curtis Donelson of Iowa State University for his donation to help support the show.
Music on This Episode
Rob Cotlow “I do”
Cambridge Guitar Orchestra “Reverie”
Deep Sea Dust “Autumn Strings”
Mark Heimonen “celebration”
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