How To Succeed in the Sciences

Academic Guidance

How To Succeed in the Sciences

My number one tip for science classes is to stay on top of the material. A lot of times, students don’t struggle with the actual material; rather, they struggle with stress because they are so far behind, and an exam is quickly approaching. In college, there is a much greater volume of material that you have to learn in a shorter amount of time than you had in high school. This compressed style of learning can be daunting, but if you are systematic about your studying, you will do just fine. It is important to allocate some time every night to either reading the assigned sections in the textbook, reviewing what you learned that day in lecture, doing homework or studying ahead for your exam. I highly recommend not putting your work off until the week before, or a couple of days before, an exam because everything will seem harder than it actually is.

In most, if not all, science classes, the material builds upon itself. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the earlier topics in order to grasp the later concepts. To minimize confusion, the key is to read the relevant textbook sections before class. Then, you should go to class. While there, ask questions when you are confused. It is generally acceptable to raise your hand and ask the professor to pause, unless he or she specifies otherwise. You can also go up to the teaching assistant (usually a graduate student) or professor before or after class to ask your questions. If none of those options work for you, set up an appointment to talk to your TA or your professor. Even sending them an email is better than not saying anything. They are there for you! So, do not be shy when it comes to your learning. Remember, your classmates can also be a great resource, so bounce ideas off of them and form study groups, as exposure to different learning styles might actually help you understand the material better.

Study group --> New ideas --> Happiness

The bottom line is that you have to take initiative and be proactive to succeed in the sciences. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to go through your classes in a gray area of uncertainty, as that will increase your stress levels and probably decrease your results.