7 tips to help you achieve academic success

What is academic success?

Academic success means different things to different people. Whether you want to explore a subject area that you’re passionate about or enhance your credentials to advance your career, one of the primary purposes of education is to help you reach your full personal and professional potential. To achieve your vision for success, it’s important to create clear, actionable objectives and develop good habits and skills to guide your learning and keep you on track in your studies.

How do you achieve academic success?

Setting achievable short- and long-term goals is one key to academic success. When you set actionable objectives and incorporate skills and behaviors like time management, good study habits, and resilience, it’s easier to create and execute an effective study plan, track your progress, and reach your milestones. If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to making a plan, read on to explore seven tips you can implement to align with your unique needs and experiences.

1. Work on your time management skills

One of the most critical skills for academic success is effective management of your study time. Time management skills are essential because they help ensure you stay on top of all your readings, projects, and exams. Managing your time well also requires you to stay organized, prioritize your tasks, and plan out a daily, weekly, and monthly study schedule that you stick to. How you choose to manage your study calendar is up to you, but you should create a system to track your project deadlines, exams, and study sessions in a way that’s easily accessible—whether that be a time management app on your phone, an online daily planner, or a physical calendar. As long as you carve out specific amounts of time each day or week to ensure you accomplish your high-priority items, you will set yourself up for success. It can also be helpful to let the important people in your life know about the times you have reserved for your studies so you can avoid distractions and stay focused on the tasks at hand.

2. Set small goals to help you accomplish large goals

One of the best ways to help you meet your larger, long-term goals is by tackling smaller goals that will help you achieve the results you desire. Create SMART goals that are clear and realistic and use your resources and time productively. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. By setting SMART goals, you give yourself the opportunity to take a hard look at your objectives, understand what is motivating them, and pinpoint the actions you need to take to meet them. An example of a SMART academic goal is, “I will work to improve my grade from a B to an A by devoting four hours a week to studying my notes, readings, and flashcards for the next three weeks.”

3. Surround yourself with supportive people who motivate you

When you lean on people who support your educational journey, it can invigorate you and help stoke your determination. With family, friends, and coworkers, it’s important to open up about your experience of returning to university to enhance your skills—including both your accomplishments and your challenges. It can also be helpful to share with your instructors and peers at Penn LPS Online. Because your coursework includes group projects, presentations, and online discussions, you’ll have many opportunities to collaborate with your classmates, share your experiences, and help each other to excel in your studies. And you’ll also interact with Ivy League faculty and practitioners who are experts in their fields who will be more than willing to support you by addressing any questions or concerns you may have.

4. Build good study habits

Developing and maintaining good study habits is critical to your academic success. When you make good study habits a part of your daily routine, it can increase your efficiency, confidence, and effectiveness while reducing anxiety about your coursework. The reality is that your days are likely already packed with work, family, and other personal responsibilities, so it’s crucial you carve out time to devote to studying. To help you build strong study habits, it’s beneficial to create a consistent and structured daily plan. Ensure that you have a dedicated environment that is conducive to studying and avoid procrastination by holding yourself accountable to your dedicated study sessions. These tips can help:

  • Take effective notes when listening to lectures or reading course materials
    Taking effective notes is extremely helpful for understanding course material and completing assignments—and there is a definite strategy for doing so. First, be selective and pay attention to the concepts that your instructor indicates are important—and look for section headings or summaries in your readings that highlight essential material. Then, once you’ve identified major concepts, rewrite them in your own words to help make them more understandable and memorable. Finally, go back and recap each idea in one or two sentences to streamline and highlight key takeaways.
  • Create mind maps
    A mind map is a diagram that represents how various ideas relate to the main concept. Using mind maps can be an effective way of organizing and summarizing key concepts, particularly if you’re a visual learner. Start by writing the central concept in the middle of your page and then draw curved lines branching out with related ideas. Then, you can add branches to the related ideas with further points. You can also use different colors, pictures, and line lengths/widths to make your maps more memorable or highlight the most important concepts.
  • Break up study sessions
    While some long study sessions can’t be avoided, if you can break up your study time into shorter increments, you will be doing yourself a favor. That’s because your brain needs these breaks to process and store the information that you learn. And stopping to grab a snack, listen to a podcast, or grab coffee with a friend can help you relax, improve your mood, and allow you to focus better once you return to studying.

5. Develop your patience and resilience

In a world where our attention spans seem to be getting shorter and instant gratification is often celebrated, it can be difficult to cultivate patience. But if you want to be successful in reaching your academic goals, you’re going to have to learn how. Practices that can be helpful to overcome impatience include being more mindful of your reactions to your environment, calming your mind by practicing deep breathing or meditation, and rewarding yourself when you reach set milestones.

Resilience refers to your ability to adapt to and overcome life’s challenges. If you’re interested in learning more about how to become more resilient you should look into APOP 1200: Human Flourishing: Strengths and Resilience at Penn LPS Online. This course explores the science of positive psychology and how we can leverage our strengths to contribute to the greater world and enhance our personal well-being. You will also learn about the physical and psychological protective principles and factors that comprise resilience and how they can be nurtured to help you flourish in your academics, career, and personal life.

6. Take care of yourself physically and mentally

You can’t expect to meet your goals if you experience burnout. That’s why it’s so important that you take care of your physical and mental health. Some effective ways to take care of your body include eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet and exercising regularly. Remember that being active doesn’t have to involve going to the gym—it can also be taking a dance class, going for a bike ride, or walking your dog around the neighborhood. The endorphins that your body produces when you exercise can help improve your disposition and relax your mind. You should also prioritize sleep to help boost your immune system, reduce stress, and increase your ability to focus on your studies. Did you know getting outdoors can improve your mental health? Not only will you enjoy the fresh air, but exposure to sunlight is also believed to increase the release of serotonin, a hormone associated with improved mood and sense of calm and concentration.

 Finally, schedule time just for fun! Whether you engage in your favorite hobby, work on a creative project, or go out to dinner with your partner, when you make the time to do activities that you love, it benefits your well-being and ultimately increases your chances of academic success. And it’s important to note that if you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed or struggling mentally during your studies that reaching out to a professional therapist is always a healthy step to take.

7. Practice positive thinking

People who maintain a positive outlook on life may cope better with stress, have stronger immunity, and experience healthier and happier lives. Consequently, cultivating a positive mindset can be invaluable when it comes to learning. Positive psychology is the scientific study of what helps people to thrive in all aspects of their lives. In APOP 1000: Introduction to Positive Psychology at Penn LPS Online, you will explore the underpinnings of positive psychology, address questions surrounding what it means to be happy, and learn the theory and science that supports the conceptual framework of well-being. With hands-on experiments and group activities, you’ll discover how to build well-being in yourself, in organizations, and in communities. So, when you’re registering for courses, do yourself a favor and consider this one.

Are you ready to achieve academic success?

Congratulations on committing to continuing your education and furthering your personal and professional development. In addition to advancing your academic and career goals, lifelong learning can also help you improve your self-confidence and self-worth, renew your creativity and motivation, build soft skills such as critical thinking and adaptability, and enhance your overall quality of life.

The Ivy League courses, certificates, and degree at Penn LPS Online are designed with adult learners like you in mind, offering the flexibility to obtain new career skills, indulge your unique passions, or earn your liberal arts degree on a schedule that works with your busy life. At Penn LPS Online, you can pursue your academic goals while building a foundation grounded in the arts and sciences and broadening your professional prospects.

View our course guide to see what excites you! Enrollment for certificates and courses and applications for the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program are always open. Visit our online application and get started today!

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