Rule #12: Do not fear your teacher (or TA).
A certain percentage of students stop by the professor's or teaching assistant's office during office hours. Others do not, lest the teacher think they're stupid.
They are stupid—for not seeking help.
Teachers are happy to meet with students. Really. They don't want you to fail. Your teacher may even tell you what to study. Organic chemistry sent Steven Kramer, College of New Jersey '08, to his professor. "It wasn't like I didn't understand. It was just that there is so much. The teacher would say, 'This is an important chapter; these are important pages.' "
Professors may also be willing to look at a draft of your paper and give feedback. "I would E-mail my paper to the teacher and meet the next day," says Jackie of Oberlin. The teacher would tell her, "This is good, you should include this, make sure you write this." Result: a paper that's "10 times better."
Rule #13: Colleges will hold your hand—let them.
Professors (or TAs) typically hold review sessions before a test. Do not miss them!
Some schools offer classes that help freshmen learn the art of paper writing. Can't hurt! There are study centers. Go to them! And free peer tutors. Sign up! If you get a tutor you don't like, go back and say the tutor's style isn't right for you.
And don't think you're the only one who needs help. "In freshman year, I was intimidated to speak up about needing a tutor," says Jackie Bousek. "I was under the impression everyone was smarter than me." Lots of freshmen feel that way, as Jackie knows now that she's been a mentor herself.
Rule #14: Don't overdo it.
It's time to present a public service message from the National Council on the Dangers of Overstudying: Chillax!
A self-admitted poster girl for overstudying is Sharon Anderson. She worked "a ton of time." A classics and English major, she endlessly translated writings from the Greek. After all-night study sessions for an exam, she'd get "amped up" on caffeine and take the test. Not a good plan. "If I'd slept," she says, "I might have been able to function better."
In high school, she was an athlete and a student government activist. In college, she had no time for extracurriculars. She wishes she'd taken a less demanding mix of classes. And she wishes she'd gone to her teachers and said, "I'm so swamped—I need to figure out a way to do what I need to do."
Sharon's advice: "Challenge yourself, but have fun."
Oh, yes. And don't forget to study!
Make a study pact with a pal and alternate drudgery with sitcommery: Put in an hour, take a break and watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother on DVD, then get back to the grind.