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Academic Success

One of the easiest ways to improve your grades is to choose the right classes. I don't mean the easiest classes, in fact, but the classes that you find interesting. Nothing spells success like attending all your classes, even the 8:00 ones, and paying full attention. You can't pay attention if you're falling asleep, either from too much partying the night before, or simply from boredom. Just sitting in the class, front and center, in the first row if you can get it, and listening with awareness will help you absorb the materials. If you can't get motivated (or even excited) to learn from your instructors, you may need to take a step back, and get in touch with the reasons why you're in college in the first place.

Every professor has a different personality, and system for running their classes, so make an effort to learn what the professor wants. Not only read the syllabus, but study the grading system that's going to be used for the class. Also, get a bulletin board for your bedroom, to put above your desk. Post the course syllabus for each class on the bulletin board, and highlight deadlines, as well as the requirements for the course. You're not going to get all A's if you miss deadlines, and fail to complete assignments. Go a step further at all times; type everything you write, and print it out on decent paper.

Professors like to follow the texts they assign. It's to supplement their lectures, and discussions from class. You can't skimp on buying textbooks, but you may be able to get the previous edition as a used book on Amazon or Alibris. Read all of the assigned material, twice. Sounds obvious, right, but who really does that? I'll tell you who, people that get 99% scores on exams. When your professor assigns a given chapter, read the whole darn thing, including the opening vignettes, the case studies, tables and exhibits. At the same time, highlight parts of the text that you feel are the most critical. For example, if vocabulary is vital, the textbook will let you know that by having terms and their definitions printed in the margins of every chapter.

If you're falling behind in a class, and the lectures seem too dense, get help before the situation becomes impossible. Some students are too shy to admit difficulty, or just don't realize there is free tutoring available. You can study all you want, but in order to achieve the grades you want, you need to go further than remembering facts, and get a firm grasp on the material.

Try to get organized. It's one thing to set aside time to study in the evening, but do you know what you want to accomplish, and have goals to reach, before deciding to quit? Ask yourself questions about what you're learning, like you were writing quizzes for your classmates to take the next day. Study in short intervals of 30 to 60 minutes. After reading a lot or solving a lot of problems, your brain needs to relax for a bit, but don't let the breaks dawdle beyond 10 minutes or so. Further, review your textbook briefly before every class, not just before exams. It's like a mini-cramming session every day, and the chapter you just read will be reinforced by what the professor has to say. Also, if you have most of the lesson plan in your head, you don't have to take notes, freeing up your attention to listen more carefully. After class, review the main points that were written on the blackboard, or shown as slides. If the teacher took the time to highlight certain sections of the text, you can bet you'll see the same information posed as questions on either the midterm, or final exam.

Exams typically are a huge portion of your final grade, so you need to become an expert test-taker. The main thing is to know what to expect on exams. Every professor will let you know indirectly exactly what questions they will be asking on the big exams. They practically tell you, by raising the pitch of their voice when stressing certain points they're making, like desperately trying to see if anyone's listening. If they take the time to write (by hand) on a display or the blackboard, they're not doing that for kicks. By finding out what will be asked, you can trim down the amount of information you need to learn. Be double-sure to get a full night's sleep before any major test, whether for the SAT Test, or just a midterm exam. Even more than studying for the test, you're going to need your full mental capacity, refreshed and recharged by sleep, then fueled by a lean high-protein breakfast that isn't going to make you drowsy.

On the test itself, arrive early, and pick a seat near the windows. Not to look out and daydream while precious moments tick past, but to get good sunlight and a bit of fresh oxygen that will charge you ability to think. Take time at the beginning of the test, to read through all the instructions and make a plan of attack. If it's a multiple-choice test, look at the number of questions and the numbers of minutes you have in total. If there are more minutes than questions, you have a bit over a minute for each item. However, if there are more questions than minutes, you better scramble, as you have under a minute for each question. Knowing this, make sure you bring a wristwatch, and set your watch right on your test. It will be in the way, but that's the only way you can refer to it over and over again. You need to be around question #10 at ten minutes in, or you're falling behind. Work faster.

The time you invest will pay a dividend as you'll then be able to pace yourself, with enough time to finish all questions, and at least have a shot at an answer. Eliminate outlying answers right at the start. Average all numbers, and look for tips in the question that point you to the answer. Watch out for test-makers. They're tricky, and use a lot of psychology when designing tests. If the first answer, A, is a little too obvious, it's probably a decoy. Test makers like to group the real answers with confusing second choices nearby. Look for patterns in words in the vocabulary section. If you see words you don't know, look for parts of the word called "roots," which are usually one or two syllables long. Then try to think of other words that use those same word parts, and see if you can find any common meanings in the words. For example manual contains the word-part 'manu,' like in manufacturing, and manuscript. Manu means hand, but that's not important, only that you think up related words, and try to get a derived common meaning out of them. Then, go back to your word on the test, and see if any of the answers share some of the meaning you came up with.

Read every question fresh, word by word, like a hawk, and pay attention. Every question is a new little world, full of surprise and wonder. You're the master here, and this is no time to let your mind wander. Finally, if it's a written-answer test, know the point values of each question, and complete the most valuable ones first, while you're still fresh. Go ahead and raise your hand. If you don't understand something about how the test works, or need clarification of any question, ask the professor.

General Catalog
Class Schedule
Add/Drop Deadline
Taking Notes
Memory Techniques
Term Papers
Grading Curve
Incomplete Classes
Re-taking a Class
Auditing Courses
Honors Classes


Writing Skills, Composition

In the pursuit of clear, concise writing, you might think about watching, or listening to, the following free lectures online.

Secret Sauce of Great Writing
by Shani Raja, Editor and Writing Coach
10.1K students 613 active students (74 Reviews)

Creative Writing Samples
by K.C. Finn, Author, Educator, Consultant, Reviewer
2.1K students 337 active students (6 Reviews)

Wordpress 101 Course
by KK Tse, Freelance Translator, Marketer
54.6K students 1.9K active students (169 Reviews)

Power Writing for Marketing
by Ed Scotti, Udemy Business and Marketing Skills Sherpa
1.4K students 134 active students (5 Reviews)

Self-Publish a Book on Kindle
by Ka Tecia "Kate" Redwine, Teaching How to Become a Best-selling Author!
4.7K students 154 active students (52 Reviews)

Magazine Writing (OSU course)

Paragraph Structure

Make the paragraph your basis of writing a larger work, and limit each paragraph to a specific topic. In fact, begin each paragraph with your topic sentence, thereby avoiding a succession of loose sentences. Choose a method of organizing your thoughts in advance, which will allow you to complete an essay or writing assignment with flair and a readable style.

Narration is normally presented in chronological order (through time). However, a good narrative contains more than just listing events in the order that they happened. Narration develops characters, describes a setting, entertains via a conflict, and ultimately a resolution. You don't just throw your story onto the page, you must have a point to the story.

Exposition is explanatory writing, presented with clarity, and credibility, often relying on a source for factual information, citing authorities who have good credentials or are experts in the subject. Meaning is found in the world, not in the dictionary. Bring the world into your story and use it to define your terms.

Descriptive paragraphs must avoid flat-out telling something. Adopt a strategy that makes your description into a story: move from far to near, left to right, old to new, or along any other natural flow. Try dropping in a dramatic revelation along the way, like you were watching a movie unfold. The main difficulty in description is that people can take in a scene almost instantly, but they read sequentially, in a series of small pieces.

Comparisons can be made easier by drawing out a 't-chart' on a blank piece of paper, to make certain you have enough elements to compare and contrast. List the two items being compared at the top, and all the differences and similarities you can think of that will be compared, on the left and right sides of your page. Finally, choose among your options to put together a decent comparison.

Process Analysis explains how to perform a series of actions, breaking the process down into a series of steps. Then, you arrange the steps into some sort of meaningful sequence. Perhaps ask a friend to read your analysis out loud to see if they can follow your directions easily.

Persuasion is the art of letting people make up their minds. More is required than just your opinion or personal sense of conviction. You need to equip the reader with information, analysis, and context, so they can form their own opinions, make judgments, and perhaps take action. Readers are primarily interested in their own opinions, so if you can help them formulate and deepen their understanding, they'll likely enjoy reading your article.

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Transfer College Credits

High-quality classes, and lower cost tuition, are persuading many high school graduates to further their education at a community college. In most states, community colleges have guaranteed transfer agreements with dozens of public and private universities. Among all students who earned a bachelor's degree, almost one third supplemented their education with classes from a community college.

Complete your associate's degree first. Research shows that community college students who finish their degree program also complete the bachelor degree at a much higher rate than those students who transfer with only a few credits. While completing your associates degree, make sure you are picking courses that are transferable to colleges and universities. Further, by choosing your major early, you can take the prerequisites that you need for your degree, saving you time and money. Examine both public and private four-year institutions to decide what will be the best fit for you. The four-year institution that you had your heart set on in high school might not ultimately be the best choice for the subject you want to pursue.

Many states have a set process that makes it clear what's needed to transfer from a community college to a 4-year university. This takes all guesswork out of the equation by telling you exactly what classes you need to take to qualify, and what grades you need to avoid losing hard-earned credits when you transfer. The following state websites provide detailed information about the transfer process in their state. While most states are similar, please ask your community college advisor for the guidelines in your state of residence.

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Reading List:

The secret to improving your score on any type of English test boils down to one common factor, your skill in reading.

The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
3.77 of 5 stars

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
3.92 of 5 stars

by Hermann Hesse
3.93 of 5 stars

Animal Farm
by George Orwell
3.78 of 5 stars

Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand
3.67 of 5 stars

A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
3.74 of 5 stars

A Clockwork Orange
by Anthony Burgess
3.94 of 5 stars

by James Joyce
3.72 of 5 stars

The Prophet
by Kahlil Gibran
4.18 of 5 stars

Jonathan Livingston Seagull
by Richard Bach
3.73 of 5 stars

Tao Te Ching
by Lao Tzu
4.32 of 5 stars

Thus Spoke Zarathustra
by Friedrich Nietzsche
4.03 of 5 stars

I Ching, Book of Changes
by Cary F. Baynes (Translator)
4.13 of 5 stars

Man and His Symbols
by Carl Jung
4.75 of 5 stars

Heaven and Hell
by Emmanuel Swedenborg
4.5 of 5 stars

Tibetan Book of the Dead
by Padmasambhava
4.8 of 5 stars

The Upanishads
by Eknath Easwaran
4.8 of 5 stars

The Essential Rumi
by Rumi
4.42 of 5 stars

The Mathnawi of Jalaluddin
by Rumi
4.33 of 5 stars

The Book
by Alan Watts
4.1 of 5 stars

Isis Unveiled
By H.P. Blavatsky
3.9 of 5 stars

The Secret Doctrine
by H. P. Blavatsky
3.9 of 5 stars
by Rabindranath Tagore
4.34 of 5 stars

First and Last Freedom
by Aldous Huxley
4.44 of 5 stars

Beelzebub's Tales
by G.I. Gurdjieff
4.03 of 5 stars

Zorba the Greek
by Nikos Kazantzakis
4.09 of 5 stars

In Search of the Miraculous
by P.D. Ouspensky
4.28 of 5 stars

Tertium Organum
by P.D. Ouspensky
4.2 of 5 stars

Psychology of Man
by P.D. Ouspensky
4.04 of 5 stars

Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman
4.12 of 5 stars

Meetings With Remarkable Men
by G.I. Gurdjieff
4.15 of 5 stars

Experiments With Truth
by Mahatma Gandhi
4.05 of 5 stars

Bijak of Kabir
by Kabir
4.28 of 5 stars

The Will to Power
by Friedrich Nietzsche
4.01 of 5 stars

Communist Manifesto
by Karl Marx
3.44 of 5 stars

Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
4.27 of 5 stars

Waiting for Godot
by Samuel Beckett
3.79 of 5 stars

Songs of Milarepa
by Milarepa
4.3 of 5 stars

The Yoga Sutras
by Patanjali
4.35 of 5 stars

The Talmud
by Ben Zion Bokser
3.93 of 5 stars

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy
3.99 of 5 stars

Zen and Japanese Buddhism
by D.T. Suzuki
3.93 of 5 stars

Snow Crash
by Neal Stephenson
4.2 of 5 stars

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This website is not affiliated with any educational institution, and all trademarks are exclusive property of the respective owners. College Inspector is the work of a group of Thai students in Bangkok, using info from the US Department of Education, Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). If any stats are incorrect, please contact us with the right data.

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