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3 Essential Habits of a Successful Collegiate

Approximately 64% of American college students complete a degree within 6 years at an institution where they first enroll. While other students transfer or graduate from another institution, nearly 25-30% of students dropout of college. Reasons for dropping out can vary from person to person but growing trends continue to be for personal and mental health reasons, the rising cost of living, deciding to enter the workforce or failure in school. There are several ways to avoid academic failure, and I have found the following to be the secrets to success with my students.

1.Create an effective time management plan

To be a full time college student at most institutions, students must be enrolled in four classes, or a total of twelve credit hours of class per semester. Students coming directly from high school, where they are accustomed to spending 35 hours per week in classes, often lack independent study skills to account for the time difference in learning. Successful collegiate students spend two hours for every hour that they are attending class, reading, absorbing, and digesting the material. This equates to 24 hours of independent study time per week. Adding the time spent in class to this independent study time equates to a full time job. Students should schedule this independent study time in their weekly routine. When students commit and follow through with this approach, they are bound to stay on top of their work, meet their deadlines and maximize their learning potential.

2. Ask yourself this

As a general approach, students should ask themselves the following questions on a continuous basis throughout the semester: Do I understand this concept/material? Could I explain or teach this to someone who isn’t in my class? Can I use what I’ve learned in an applicable way? If the answer to any of the aforementioned is negative, the student should then decide what they need to do in order to answer all questions in an affirmative.

3. Utilize your resources

In preparation for college, students were told that they needed to become self-reliant and independent in school. Make no mistake…this remains true. However, there are several untapped resources available to help you succeed. Most colleges have writing and speaking labs. You can make an appointment or drop in at any point in the process – from not knowing where to start, to editing a draft. Also, your professors, or their teaching assistants, will hold regular office hours. Although intimidating the first few times, these sessions can help you fill missing gaps in your knowledge, re-explain key concepts, or help you find direction in your research. If you had educational accommodations in high school, you can additionally request some of the same through the office of disability services.

College success is largely dependent on the efforts students choose to employ. Students who plan for their independent study time and stick to that plan are setting themselves up for success. There is a time and a place for everything, and studying has to be put before work or socializing. Students who consistently self-reflect on their comprehension of the topics and utilize the school’s resources to their benefit will be a step ahead and will be a part of the percent of students who succeed.

Julie Bortoli Headshot

Julie L. Bortoli, MA, NCC, LPC, has been a school counselor in the southwest suburbs for 16 years. She has 23 years of counseling experience in total, with prior experience as a school based probation officer and a counselor at a homeless shelter.

Julie earned her BA degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a MA in Political and Justice Studies from Governors State University and a MA in School Counseling and Guidance from Lewis University. A life-long learner, Julie continues her education to maintain NCC and LPC licenses.

Throughout her years as a counselor, Julie has assisted countless students with their post-secondary plans and the college admission process. Julie has a passion for helping students find their purpose at an affordable, yet challenging university.

Having served as the ACT testing coordinator for over ten years, Julie currently collaborates with the Junior-Senior group guidance planning team and is the school liaison to Joliet Junior College. Presently, Julie is helping students with medical conditions obtain academic accommodations.

Julie enjoys speed walking, tandem bike rides and beach days. Julie also serves on the board of her local community pool and racquet club. She resides in Naperville with her three children.

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