Academic success strategies

Learn how you can find balance in your life at the university in order to achieve your goals.

Academic discipline

Make academics a priority.

Read more

Do you:

  • schedule study time?
  • seek tutoring when you find a class challenging?
  • keep a calendar of important deadlines?

It takes discipline to succeed academically. Plan and prioritize to increase your academic success.

Learn more about:

Academic self-confidence

Feel confident in your ability to perform well in your classes.

Read more

Do you:

  • feel nervous that you won’t give the correct answer when an instructor calls on you in class?
  • feel incompetent if you ask for help on a project?
  • get anxious before you take an exam?
  • worry about team projects?

Scheduling and making the most out of study time can help ease anxiety.  Taking advantage of your instructor’s office hours to discuss concerns can also be helpful in building academic self-confidence.

The Counseling Center also provides assistance with academic self-confidence and test anxiety.

Learn more about:

Commitment to college

A bachelor’s degree requires four or more years of hard work and dedication.

Read more

Do you feel frustrated that friends who started working right after college are making more money?
Are you prepared to dedicate yourself to four years of continuous study?
Is attaining a college degree important to you and/or your parents?

When examining your commitment to college, assess both your short-term and long-term goals. Higher education is a commitment that you should base on your personal goals.

Learn more about:

Communication skills

There’s no such thing as a bad question, especially when you’re learning something new. 

Read more

Do you:

  • have difficulty listening when there are other activities happening around you?
  • take notes that reflect what the professor is saying in class?
  • feel comfortable asking questions in class?
  • have trouble getting along with your roommate or others?

Good communication requires active listening, and the ability to appropriately express your needs. Active listening requires you to focus on the speaker and indicate that you understand what he or she is discussing. Such indicators may include physical gestures such as nodding, smiling, or taking notes.

Look for clues from the speaker to identify key information so you can take appropriate notes. These may include:

  • vocal inflections
  • gestures
  • information presented in a PowerPoint or written on the board 

If you are uncomfortable asking a question in front of the class, ask another student or ask your professor outside of class. Chances are, someone else has the same question.

Learn more about:

Determination

Set priorities and dedicate yourself to your classes.

Read more

Do you:

  • tend to commit yourself to too many activities?
  • stay focused on assigned tasks, or are there previous commitments that might get in the way?
  • lack the self-discipline to start early and work consistently on your assignments?
  • struggle to find motivation?

Keep track of your commitments in a planner to help you evaluate how much time and effort you can devote to your studies. If you don’t have enough time to do your homework and studying, you might need to reduce your extracurricular activities.

Learn more about:

Goal striving

Set short-term goals that lead you toward your long-term goals.

Read more

To develop your goals, ask yourself:

  • what are three things I would like to learn during my time at the university?
  • what is my personal definition of success?
  • what habits must I change in order to achieve greater success?

Short-term goals help those long-term goals seem easier to reach. Engage with people and activities that lead you toward success.

Learn more about:

Social activity

Part of university life is balancing your social life with academics.

Read more

Do you:

  • have a large group of friends?
  • feel comfortable being the center of the attention?
  • spend more time alone or with friends?
  • struggle when initiating conversations?

In order to be successful in your academics, you may need to reduce some of your social engagements. Schedule study time with friends in order to maintain friendships.

If you want to meet people, initiate conversations with classmates, or get involved in student groups. The Office of Student Life provides information on student organizations and clubs on campus.

Learn more about:

Social connection

Part of the university experience is building social connections and networks.

Read more

Do you:

  • participate in campus events?
  • live on campus?
  • eat alone or with friends?
  • have difficulty making friends?

Every student should feel that they have a support network at the university. Getting involved in groups and clubs on campus makes university life more enjoyable, and provides opportunities for much-needed study breaks. Student Life can help you find student organizations so you can form connections on campus.

Learn more about:

Steadiness

You’re likely to experience many ups and downs while at the university.

Read more

How do you manage anger?
Are you comfortable expressing your emotions in front of others?
How do you handle stressful situations?
Do you have difficulty setting personal boundaries?

The Counseling Center can help you learn strategies to effectively express your emotions, and Residence Life can help you manage difficulties with your roommates.

Learn more about:

Study skills

Everyone has different study methods. It is important to find what methods work best for you.

Read more

How many hours do you typically study for a test?
What kinds of grades do you get?
Where do you study?
Do you study better in a group or alone?
Do you schedule study time?

Many students find it best to study in an environment with few distractions. Pay attention to what time of day studying works best for you. Are you more alert in the morning or evening?

The Student Learning Center can help you build study skills.

Learn more about:

Strategies for increasing your GPA

Having difficulty earning the grades you want? Follow these tips to achieve your academic goals. 

Reduce your course load

Taking fewer classes will give you more time to devote to each course and will increase your chances of doing well.

Repeat courses in which you have received a D or F

Repeating courses is the best way to improve your cumulative GPA. Be aware that you may not repeat a course at another institution to replace a grade earned at Northern Arizona University. See your academic advisor about repeating courses.

Reduce your non-academic activities

Work, club activities, and social activities can cut into time needed for study. Be sure you’re prioritizing your time correctly.