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Webpage of Dr. Marcel B. Finan


Road to Success in College

  • Don't miss class unless there is an extreme reason for that.
  • Finding out what happened in class and attending class are not the same. Attend every class and be attentive. Don't just take notes and let your mind wander. Use class time as a learning time.
  • Take notes in class. Write everything you can.
  • The keys to success are desire and discipline. You must want success and you must discipline yourself to do what it takes to get success. There are a lot of things that you cannot do anything about, but you can learn to be disciplined. Set your goals, make plans, and schedule your time. Before you know it, you will have the discipline that is necessary for success.
  • If you need help, don't hesitate to get it. Math has a way of building upon the past. What you learn today will be used tomorrow, and what you learn tomorrow will be used the day after. If you don't straighten out problems immediately, then you can get hopelessly lost. If you are having trouble, see your instructor to find what help is available.
  • Get to class early so that you are relaxed and ready to go when class starts. Collect your thoughts and get your questions ready. Take responsibility for your education. Many come to learn, but not all learn.
  • Use the free tutoring services provided by your school through the math lab.
  • Ask questions in class. If you don't ask questions, then the instructor might believe that you have total understanding. When one student has a question, there are usually several who have the same question but do not speak up. Asking questions not only helps you to learn, but it keeps the classroom more lively and interesting.
  • No two students learn in the same way or at the same speed. No one can tell you exactly how to study and learn. Learning is personal. You must discover what it takes for you to learn mathematics and then to do whatever it takes.
  • Working problems one hour per day every day of the week is better than working problems for 7 hours on one day of the week. It is usually better to spread out your study time than to try and learn everything in one big session.
  • Be considered to your classmates and never leave in the middle of a lecture.
  • Being a full-time student is a full-time job. A successful student spends from 2 to 3 hours studying outside class for every hour spent in the classroom. So if you must work full-time, do not schedule more classes than you can handle.
  • It is a good idea to work with others, but don't be misled. Working a problem with help is not the same as working a problem on your own. In the end, mathematics is personal. Make sure that you can do it.
  • Don't expect to understand a new topic the first time that you see it. Learning mathematics takes time, patience, and repetition. Keep reading your classnotes, asking questions, and working problems. Someone once said "All mathematics is easy once you understand it."
  • Do your assignment the same day it is assigned. The longer you wait, the harder it is to remember what happened in class.
  • Be active in class. Don't be embarrassed to ask questions or answer questions. You can often learn more from a wrong answer than from a right one. Instructors love active classrooms and will not think less of you for speaking out.
  • Don't cram for a test. Some students try to cram weeks of work into one "all nighter." These same students are seen frantically paging through the text up until the moment that the test papers are handed out. These practices create a lot of test anxiety and will only make you sick. Start studying for a test several days in advance of the test and get a good night sleep before a test. If you keep up with homework, then there will be no need to cram.
  • Never leave an exam early. Use the exam time to the fullest.
  • When taking a test, try not to spend too much time on a single problem. If a problem is taking a long time, then you might be approaching it incorrectly. Move on to another problem and make sure that you get finished with the test.
  • Don't wait until the day before the test to review material. Do some review on a regular basis.
  • When you get a test back, don't simply file it in your notebook or the waste basket. While the material is fresh in your mind, rework all the problems that you missed. Ask questions about anything that you don't understand and save your test for future reference.
  • Relax and don't worry about grades. If you are doing everything you can and should be doing, then there is no reason to worry. If you are neglecting your homework and skipping class then you should be worried.
  • When working a test, scan the problems and pick the ones that are the easiest for you. Do them first. Save the harder problems until the last.
  • Keep on reviewing. After you have done your current assignment, go back a section or two and try a few problems. You will be amazed at how much knowledge will improve with a regular review.
  • Everyone knows that you must regularly practice to become a good athlete. Success in math also requires regular practice. Thus budget your time so that you have a regular practice period for math.
  • Solving problems is based on principles like rules, theorems, and definitions. These principles justify the steps we take. Be sure to understand the reasons. If you just memorize procedures without understanding, you will soon forget the procedures.
  • The keys to college success are motivation and time management. Students who tell you that they are making great grades without studying are probably not telling the truth. Success in college takes effort.
  • A lumber mill turns logs into playwood, adding value to the logs. College is like a lumber mill. If you are not changing, growing, and learning, you may not be increasing in value. Everything that you learn increases your value.
  • Make sure that you know what you instructor expects from you. You can determine what your instructor feels is important by looking at the examples that your instructor works in class and the homework assignments.
  • Most instructors believe that what they do in class is important to your instructor and what is most likely to appear on the test.
  • If you must miss class, be sure to get notes from a reliable classmate. Take good notes yourself in case a classmate comes to you for notes.
  • Keep reminding yourself that working hard all of the semester will really pay off.
  • Stay alert for the entire class period. The first 20 minutes are the easiest and the last 20 minutes are the hardest. Some students put down their pencils, fold up their notebooks, and daydream for those last minutes. Don't give in. Recoginze when you are losing it and force yourself to stay alert. Think of how much time you will have to spend outside of class figuring out what happened during those last 20 minutes.
  • If you are not having the success in school that you would like, do something about it. What you do now will affect you the rest of your life.
    Page created and maintained by Marcel B. Finan
    Last updated:June 24, 2016
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