College will be a large jump from the confined walls of any high school; it represents more independence and new experiences, but with that comes increased workloads and a need for different study habits.
Andrea Nguyen studies nursing and pre-med in her sophomore year at Michigan State University. Also a part of the honors program, Nguyen works hard at school. This responsibility means studying more diligently in order to get good grades on exams. As always, high school students are searching for any better way to prepare for college. Is taking AP classes enough? Or should WO students do more?
One of West Ottawa’s mottos is to prepare students to be college, career, and life ready. While some students are wary to believe that they are truly college ready, Nguyen believes otherwise. “I believe West Ottawa does a great job preparing their students to be college ready, especially the writing. You get into colleges with your [application] essays as well, and all the writing skills you develop in high school definitely transfers over,” Nguyen said. This should give WO students some peace of mind knowing that if they follow what the school tells them and take classes that challenge them, they should be prepared to be accepted into college.
Getting good grades after acceptance takes much more work; “In college, your grades are your exams, so when you have an exam that is all you are studying for. You have homework, but you do not get the feedback to improve your skills or knowledge. You really have to be independent and study on your own.” Nguyen said.
Since college professors at large universities can’t spend the time collecting homework and grading extra papers that must be done all independently. “For instance, in a big lecture your professor isn’t going to contact you individually and ask if you want help, you have to go to them yourself, introduce yourself and ask the questions you may need. You need to go to the review sessions yourself,” said Nguyen. Unlike high school, no one makes sure you are doing your work, and no teachers check up on you when you are performing poorly in their class. It’s all the students’ choice; get good grades or not. Your grades depend on how willing you are to study. If you underperform in college, your money will be wasted, and only you can be held responsible.
In general, professors suggest that you study two times the amount of time you go to class. “ I am taking 16 credits and I should be working on my school stuff and studying for 32 hours,” Nguyen said. That’s far more than most high school students have time to study. That would be equivalent to WO students studying 14 hours after school every day. It’s likely that none of them have that amount of time after school to spend preparing for the next day. Many WO students have jobs or other obligations outside of homework and studying. When college rolls around, many need to make a large change in study habits. A couple hours a night will not be enough studying to get by in college.
This semester, in her second year of college, Nguyen still struggles to get her study habits under control. Each class takes a different amount of time commitment. “I am having a “panic” right now in my third semester of college… I’m taking a physiology class … and there are 5 exams in the semester. I have been barely passing the exams,” Nguyen said. While she studies for her professor’s suggested time she has realized for this specific class the suggestions are not enough. There are not always specific guidelines that assure good grades. Once in college, students have more independent responsibility for their grades.
If you study in college the same way you studied in high school you will not succeed the same way. Even very bright students can not skate through college without putting in more time and effort. While WO can help you get into college, after that you are on your own, and changing study habits greatly affects your ability to succeed. The money and time spent getting accepted to and attending college should not be wasted when you do not find the time to invest in your grades.