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Academic Advising Centre

Ten strategies for academic success

A successful university experience involves more than just getting good grades and completing a degree, it presents an opportunity for personal development. 

Here are just a few tips to help you make the most of your time in university.


Reinvent yourself

You can remake yourself into who you really want to be, rather than being what others expect or think you should be. Your new university community will not know you, so you can change! This is a unique and potentially liberating opportunity.


Do one new, crazy thing each year

A university offers many opportunities and options. Take some calculated risks by doing something out of character that you have secretly wanted to do. Explore new ideas and uncharted territories—whether in course selection and/or in the rich array of social and extracurricular activities.


Push yourself into deeper waters

You will be joining a challenging, lively community of talented and accomplished students. Your professors will have lofty expectations of you. Work hard to raise your game, to increase your pace and intensity to meet these standards and expectations. This will generate both academic success and self-esteem.


Run your life. Do not let life run you

University life unfolds at warp speed, with tremendous intensity and a bewildering variety of activities, people and situations. Only you can give order to your day-to-day life, by organizing your time and regulating pressures.


You are an adult now

You will be held responsible for what happens, what you do, and the consequences. Random good and bad things will happen: regulations and deadlines, unreliable friends and cranky profs. Be happy for the good and develop tactics to roll with the bad. Stand on your own feet and do not whine.


Use us

The university wants you to succeed and has support services to help you do so. Ask questions, and ask again, until you understand and know what you are doing. Do not go around dazed and confused; get it figured out. But remember, It is your own responsibility to make the best use of the university community.


Build relationships

Introduce yourself to and build relationships with the people who cross your path. Get known by them and show interest in them—from professors and lab assistants to staff and fellow students. They will help you enormously and you will benefit from knowing, helping and interacting with them.


Read, read, read

You must improve your reading skills to be academically successful. Like an athlete in training, you should increase your daily reading, to build stamina, speed, concentration and effectiveness. Expand your reading access and comprehension beyond your courses to other areas and worlds.


Write, write, write

You must develop this skill. Your grades will depend on it! The more that you write, the better you will become. So, write, re-write, and re-write again.


Talk, talk, talk

We talk a lot in university. We debate, discuss, share and learn by talking, connecting with each other and with the world. It is how we push and test ourselves, confirm our ideas, express our feelings and values, and stand accountable for what we believe in. Verbal skills will also be very important in your social, extracurricular, community and employment lives.


Overall, find out what makes you happy and excited enough to get you out of bed in the morning. This formula typically leads to success. Good luck and have fun!

Source: With thanks to Dr. Robert Campbell, president of Mount Allison - University in Sackville, N.B.


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