Students share secrets to success as semester begins

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College classes require more independence than high school, students say.

Students on campus offered advice for classroom success and adjusting to the difference between high school and college.

“Time doesn’t wait for anybody,” real estate freshman Tony Chavez said, stressing the importance of goal-setting and focus.

He cautioned students to have discipline to avoid distractions and stay on top of priorities.

Prioritizing time and getting enough rest have been essential to theater sophomore Stephen Gamez’s success as a college student.

“Don’t wait to the last minute,” Gamez said. “Be flexible with the other stuff like hanging out with friends.”

A big proponent of sleep, he said, “Without it, you’re not making your best decisions and it will affect your performance.”

Immaturity does not bode well in the classroom, biology freshman Matthew Canedo said, noting the only major difference between high school and his college courses is the level of maturity not only of the students but the teachers.

“Act more like an adult here because they’re not going to tolerate it,” Canedo said.

While communication design sophomore Katy Quintanilla’s core college classes are similar to the classes she took in high school, she said she is putting more effort into building her graphic design portfolio than any class she had taken in high school.

“I take school a lot more seriously now,” Quintanilla said. “I definitely have a lot more responsibility while pursuing graphic design.”

She said the keys to her success in college are doing all her work, showing up to class on time and doing whatever it takes to not fall behind in assignments.

Music freshman Claudia Cuellar has study tips she uses “when studying for math, at least.”

Cuellar, along with reviewing her notes from class, makes up exercises for the math formulas she learns in her classes and looks online for other resources.

The study habits that have proved to be the most effective for criminal justice freshman Margaret Medina are to write a lot of notes and do research online.

“Because I take so many notes, when it comes time for me take a test or when the professor asks a question, I am always ready for an answer and usually do really well on a test,” she said. “But when I don’t know, that’s when the research online comes into play because what I can’t find in my textbook or notes, I can find online.”

Although she has not been in high school in recent years, she has seen education change rapidly.

“Everything is electronic and digital now, which for me makes it much easier,” Medina said. “It’s easier now to seek out help if you don’t know the answer to a problem or whatever question you have.”

Nursing sophomore John Spears recommends linking the Canvas calendar to a cell phone calendar so notifications not only got to school email, but the phone as well.

“As soon as you can access Canvas, begin checking your classes,” Spears said. “Look for your work, so you know what to expect. Set up your notifications so you are always aware of your assignments.”

“Listen,” Dimon Barnes, radio-television-broadcasting sophomore, emphasized as she broke down each syllable.


“Listen to anyone who wants to help you, especially for those people taking the time to talk to you, like your instructors,” Barnes said.

Political science sophomore Bradley Richardson said he pays close attention to the instructor and takes good notes.

“This is my second go at college,” he said. “The most important thing I learned is to listen to the instructor. Their job isn’t to baby you, but to prepare you for the real world.”

The study habits that have made Richardson succeed in college thus far are going over his notes, doing research online and setting an appointed time to study.

“When my kids were young and I worked and went to school, the best time I had to study was at night time,” he said.

Richardson said college is significantly different from high school.

“High school is just not as structured as college,” he said. “College is much better. It’s more about discussion and not regurgitation.”

Liberal arts freshman Nicholas Welch echoed Richardson’s sentiments, noting college classes have more discussion and require more independence in learning.

“High school teachers basically get paid to hold your hand, but in college you have to ask for help,” Welch said. “In high school you have people to motivate you, but in college it’s more self-motivating.”

Welch is a part of a study group that meets daily in Loftin Student Center.

He said the first thing he does in each class is obtain classmates’ phone numbers in case he misses anything, preferring to call rather than email fellow students because of difficulty using ACES.

Biology freshman Nicholas Coronado said forming a study group makes subjects more interesting and keeps students engaged.

His most important piece of advice is to take time picking a major.

Having switched among three science majors, Coronado said, “Sometimes you think something is good until you take some courses and realize it’s not right for you.”

Medina said the best advice she could give students is find tutoring on campus and continue learning while they are young.

“I’m a wife and a mother of two boys. It’s been a while since I’ve been in school. I took a long break to raise my boys. Now it’s time for me to go back to school and pursue the career I always wanted.”

Kimberly Brown, J. Carbajal, Brandon A. Edwards, Maria Gardner, Niesha Goodloe, J.A. Riley and Jakoby West contributed to this story.


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