7 Habits for Academic Success

Few transitions in life are totally seamless. Shifting from high school or community college to a four-year comprehensive college like Grand Valley State University can bring about some difficult adjustments, including academic ones. But there are plenty of things you can consider in advance of your arrival to GVSU that will significantly ease your academic transition.

Following is our list of the "7 habits of the academically successful GVSU student." We encourage students think about these important factors to ensure that you are prepared to transition to GVSU!

1. Understand that college is a HUGE academic leap from high school, and maybe even your prior institution.

In high school, students benefited from frequent assessments, reminders about assignments, and routine feedback about where they stand. Students may receive academic assistance from countless sources, but the student must initiate contact, by visiting an instructor's or advisor's "office hours" or obtaining other success services that the University provides. The student must seek out these services and make the choice to be active in his or her success.

2. Treat your studies like it's your 40 hour/week job.

Students consistently report that "college is nothing like high school" in the amount of reading and studying involved. Students who did little to earn their good grades before find it especially difficult to suddenly have to work hard for high grades. Others get swept away by the social aspects of college life and ignore studies altogether (and it's tough to rebound). Students should commit to a schedule of 40 hours of work (classes and studying) per week. By doing so, you still have an incredible amount of social/recreational time with which to balance the entire college experience. The "typical" expectation is to have 2-3 hours of preparation outside of class for every one hour in the classroom. Since most GVSU students will enroll for around 15 credits you can see that it really is a full time job. 

3. Routinely check your GVSU e-mail and Blackboard for announcements/notices.

Though many forms of communication are used to keep you informed, e-mail is the official mode of communication at GVSU. You will regularly receive critical information about when to meet for one-on-one advising, how to register, deadlines for withdrawing from courses, special and daily campus events, feedback/announcements from professors, and much more. When you don't read your official GVSU student e-mail, you may feel quite lost when it comes to handling your own academic affairs. Attending and responding to e-mail prevents the consequences of "...but I didn't know" mistakes.

4. Keep a daily planner with you during the day. Note every class, meeting, assignment & "to do" item in it.

Relying on short term memory and cell phone calendars might have worked in the past, but they are often insufficient for managing complex tasks in college! Since most assignments and due dates are stated in the course "syllabus," reminders are seldom given. It is, therefore, critical to have a reliable system for remembering even the smallest of assignments as well as being able to plan for work that is due in the weeks ahead. Students must be self-disciplined to attend all classes, be committed to your studies, and remain accountable for your academic and social actions.

5. If you're having difficulty with anything, act immediately.

It's not uncommon to experience difficulty with a course, a psychological/medical issue, a learning challenge, or family and financial matters. GVSU has countless offices, services, and personnel to assist you with a range of issues - but we can't help if we don't know something is wrong! At the very first sign of difficulty, tell someone - e.g., a faculty member, an advisor, an RA, a counselor - so we can together prevent a fixable issue from becoming a major academic problem. Be proactive!

6. College is a time to strengthen your senses of independence and self-efficacy.

We sometimes get phone calls from your parents/guardians that begin something like, "My son's in a panic because he couldn't register for a class he wants," or "My stepdaughter is thoroughly confused because her advisor said she needed to fill out some form." We know you may seek your parent's assistance to solve problems or issues. However, in most (if not all) cases we usually must speak directly with you to collect more details about the situation before we can help. Information can get lost in the translation so, in most cases, the best thing you can do is call or visit the appropriate offices that can assist with the problem. If you aren't sure who to ask...check with your academic advisor!

7. Bring all of your important "academic information" to college, and keep it in a safe place.

You should have materials from your new student orientation (college catalog, general education guide, curriculum guides, etc.). If you remain organized and informed, you will make wise and timely academic choices. Each student has a faculty/professional advisor in your major who will provide help and direction. However, it is ultimately your responsibility to know your particular degree requirements (available on the myPath report), keep track of progress toward degree completion, and successfully complete courses that satisfy your degree. Referring to your important academic information helps you keep track.

Early habits tend to last

...and these 7 habits of the academically successful GVSU student should start you off on solid footing. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of monitoring these seven habits throughout your first semester, and beyond. From all of us in the CCPS Undergraduate Advising Center... We hope that you have a happy, productive, and enlightening time while studying at GVSU. We are here to assist you and hope that they make an appointment to see us soon!