12 College Commandments
- Don't steal -plagiarism. It's different than cheating because you could easily avoid this mistake by giving credit to the author in your essay. “If you are found guilty of plagiarism, you will at the very least have to rewrite the assignment or fail it.” Most likely you will take a zero for JUST that assignment if you are lucky. However whether or not your intention was to take the information as your own and you purposely didn't give credit to the real author and the professor discovers that you have plagiarized, “he/she may bring you up on judicial charges. If you are guilty of plagiarism, most colleges will look at their honor or judicial codes to determine what the consequence will be. Depending upon the school's policy and your judicial record, you may be suspended from school. Suspension means that you must leave campus and stop attending classes, but you may return at the start of another quarter or semester, after the suspension period ends.” The suspension may affect your financial aid and other possible prospects at other universities you were hoping to attend in the future. Be on the safe side and research your sources and ALWAYS give credit where the credit is due! Professors are more likely to be impressed by your amount of sources and how you integrate them in your essay than the fact that you sound like a textbook or their old research paper from ten years ago [TRUE STORY].
- Don't cheat -this includes looking at someone else's test during an exam or hiding study notes while taking the exam. College is competitive. Fellow students will take cheating more seriously in college, because they realize what's at stake. They're more likely to turn you in. I think students who are worried about maintaining their GPA have the most to lose if they cheat. If you are just too lazy to study, you cheat then get caught, you get kicked out, but I doubt your life would crumble if your heart wasn't in it anyways. However, if your that student plugging along that most professors respect or moderately like and they catch you cheating, even if its just once, you lose all credibility with professors. *This is a big loss in college so...
- Get along with your professors -even the ones you can’t stand or are a little afraid of. In high school we can survive if our teachers lose confidence in us, or even if they don't like us. College is a different story. These are the people that could write your recommendation letters for jobs, internships, awards, scholarships or even other colleges/universities. Their opinion (at least on paper) matters, and if you want to succeed in life you have to take that seriously. This isn't the same as brown-nosing because some professors may put up with that but not actually like you. If you can show them you are competent, responsible, and at least can “pretend” to enjoy the material, you have a shot to get a decent recommendation letter. However, you don't want just a decent recommendation letter, you want a recommendation letter that is so glowing that if you look at it directly it will blind you. The best way to do this is to assess which classes you are doing best at, the classes you enjoy, and the classes where you and your professor have good rapport. A good clue is if your professor doesn't sigh or wince when you are around, then you are golden.
- Group Work -it happens, it's required, deal with it. If you can pick up your group -go with the smartest, or hardest workers in the class (it's usually best if you can get a mixture of both). If you choose your group by how “hot” they look, you are playing with fire. There is a good chance that good looking guy will expect you to do all the work, or that the girl who spends class putting on makeup and texting won't even know what you are all supposed to do. You want someone you can work with, someone who doesn't get on your nerves but doesn't slack off either. If you have a reputation of slacking off in class gets around you may end up working alone or in a low achieving group so either way, do your portion of the work and don’t be a social loafer!
- Listen, Take Notes -if teachers say “this is going to be on the exam” for goodness sakes WRITE IT DOWN, HIGHLIGHT, AND UNDERLINE! Not all teachers are kind enough to give reviews or study guides, so be in the habit of note taking and being attentive. If worst comes to worst, sit next to a good note taker and ask to borrow the notes to see what you missed. Notes are valuable for a good study session. You can either record yourself reading your notes and listen to the recording, or re-write notes, or write them with diagrams and graphs. As long as you know your study style, you can't go wrong whichever way you study or take notes, just as long as you do it.
- Be Silent -this includes cell phones & talking to your friend about that party on Thursday. It's beyond rude, and some professors have a great memory for names and faces. They will remember you and make sure to show that in your 10% participation grade. However some professors just go for good ol’ fashioned humiliation. They may ask to answer your phone, if it's your boyfriend or girlfriend, prepare for a really awkward five minutes. If you are talking in class you may be asked to leave the class, you will probably miss important parts of lectures if you are too busy talking so leave that for your group work.
- Think Goldilocks -not too far back or too close front. Sit in the middle-first aisle for better note taking during lectures. It's easy to fall asleep against a wall or in the far back, so don't tempt yourself -sit closer to the front. Also, if you have friends try not to sit with them if you know they have worse study habits than you. Surround yourself around people that you may not want to party with, but study with. You can pick up on their good habits and learn something that will help you out in the long run. Do this even if you are the smart student. There is always someone smarter than you and who will work twice as hard as you so make them your ally not your enemy.
- Don't fall asleep -unless you are home or in the library. If you haven't gotten enough rest JUST GO HOME, or at the very least sleep in the library where its more quiet. Some professors will humiliate you. Once, a professors ended the class and exited with the rest of the students. No one woke that student up until the janitor came to clean up. ~I know a guy...
- All night study sessions - attempt them at your own risk. Keep all nighters to a minimum ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE A MORNING CLASS. You will burn out this way so prioritize what needs to be done first and do the rest in the morning. It's also wise to keep track how many times you do this a semester. It's better to never have to do a study session all night than to be doing them every Sunday night.
- Bring your lunch -it's cheaper than the cafeteria. Bringing snacks and a water bottle could save your life. There has been many a time where I forgot my wallet at home but whenever I have had a water bottle and a lunch on hand, at least I made it through the day. Also buying starbucks or really any food on campus adds up quick, if you really need a coffee fix go to your campus coffee stand and bring your own cup -this will save you some cents.
- First day of college -get there early, don't panic, and get a map. Depending on where you are the layout is more complicated than high school. Side-note: Get to know your health/counseling centers they can give you medical care and if you are not a minor, it's confidential. I've gotten lost a few times when I was at Santa Ana College (3 years) as well as Cal State Fullerton (finished my 1st year). It really helps if you can get hold of a map and highlight which buildings your classes are in for the semester. Getting there earlier will give you a chance to get lost but still be on-time. Also, expect the room to be packed the first day. If you can get there early you can find a seat to sit down. If you are on a waiting list -first come first serve. I once kicked a girl out of class by being there before her. I felt bad for one minute, but I was there early so it was her own fault for being late. It's a harsh world...
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket -split up your class schedule. If you know what your major is, don't fill up your semester with just classes for your major. Chances are you will change your major two or three times before deciding what makes sense for you. You have the opportunity to be an “undecided major”, so you shouldn't rush into it. Take at least one difficult class to challenge yourself and one easy class that you enjoy. Most 3 unit classes are moderately difficult and 4 unit classes in my experience can be quite difficult, so balance it out. 1 unit classes and 2 unit classes may not seem like a lot, but they pile on the homework like no one's business, so if you do take a (1-2 unit class) make sure it's something you enjoy don't take it because you think it will be easy. Variety in your first and second semester is a good thing general ed. classes may remind you a lot of high school -that's because they are. Don't get too comfortable though, I had a math class that I thought was beyond easy, but I didn't study enough and I wasn't as genius as I thought. I got a D and had to retake the class but I learned my lesson. If you fail a class, or have to re-take it -its not the end of the world. Community college is less about intelligence and more about testing your maturity for Cal State or UC level of college. I didn't start out at a 4 year college, but I think the same rules apply. Be persistent, don't get complacent, and try to have fun. Join clubs or attend school events to mix it up a little if you are a president of a club that looks great to other colleges if you want to transfer. People of all ages attend college, but while it's never too late to learn, it's always easier to learn something when you are young, your mind is limber and you don't have 20 other responsibilities. Part time college is an option that is available if you also work, have to take care of siblings or your own kids, so don't lose hope. As long as you want it enough and are determined to succeed you will get that AA or Bachelors.
Just remember, it's a lot like high school, only it's not.