Student Success Stories: Steve B.
Steve B.'s Academic Success Story
My first semester of college was kind of a wake-up call for me. I remember doing poorly on my first couple of exams and the pressure I felt from my folks to get the kind of grades I got in high school. So, I doubled my efforts for the second round of tests and felt confident that all that extra time would improve my grades. Well, the midterms came and went, and so did my hopes for doing well in college. I was lost about what more I could do to improve my grades.
I never had any reasons to have goals in high school -- other than going to college, which was just kind of expected. After a bad first semester at college, I realized I need to improve my performance -- and the way I did it was for the first time in my life establishing some goals, both for individual courses, but also for the entire semester of work.
I realized, at some point, that my attitude way playing a pivotal role in my performance on tests. Because I did not do well on tests in my first semester, I later realized that my attitude going into tests was kind of negative -- like self-defeatist. I would walk into tests thinking 'sure hope I don't screw up another one.' I really thinking changing my attitude about tests played a big role in improving my grades, of course, but even just improving my studying techniques.
When there is a big project due for a class, one of the first things I do is ask the professor if there are any good samples of previous projects that I could look at.
I've never been a good test-taker -- and that affected my attitude and also my performance and grades. Besides slowly changing my attitude, the other thing I did -- kind of by accident one semester when a professor told me to review his old exams -- was that I know actively seek out old exams for every class I take. I'm not trying to cheat or anything, though sometimes I feel a little guilty when a question on the exam is exactly the same as on the practice exam... I just know that taking a practice exam kind of eases my mind and helps me keep a positive attitude. And it's definitely raised my grades!
With math classes, always do the assigned problems -- but don't stop there. Also try to do the problems that weren't assigned. You might be happily surprised when the test comes around -- because my professor typically had a problem or two right from the book, but always ones he had not assigned as homework.
My parents, especially my dad, expected me to become either a doctor or a lawyer. He's in marketing, so I'm not sure why except that he wanted a better life for me. And while I think I actually did have some interest in those fields -- it's sometimes hard to tell if I ever did or did just because my parents talked about it so much. Anyway, I did do pre-med for a while and also joined the pre-law club, but the grades in the core courses were just not there and the stress just became unbearable. I considered dropping out of college. I did finally talk with my parents, and while I think they are still disappointed, they have told me it's my life and I should pursue what I want to do.
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