Dos and Don'ts

A checklist for college and life beyond

Whether you are straight out of high school or it has been awhile since you’ve been in a classroom, it is never a bad idea to discuss ways to improve your chances of success while in college. Below is a list of Dos and Don’ts to help get you through this and future semesters.



This one is basic, but needs to be said. We will cover a lot in the course of one class. Imagine it being like watching a popular TV series. if you missed one episode, you’ll be very behind in the story. Mathematics builds, so you need to see every piece. This also implies that you get to class on time.

Practice every day

Math is like a language and needs to be practiced daily. If you take more than a day off, you greatly reduce your retention. Do not be the student that waits until the weekend or before the test to do your homework.


I am assuming that you are human and therefore, you will make mistakes in this class. Everyone does and you need to learn that they are the best way to improve your knowledge in any field. Doing homework helps point out those gaps in knowledge, and learning to fill in those gaps is the true process of studying.


If you know you are going to miss, you need to let the instructor know. In certain cases, work can be turned in early and you won’t have anything to worry about. Responsibility also means getting your work done on time and turned in on time. You need to treat college like a job. If you turn in projects late to your boss, you will soon be looking for a new job. And, responsibility also means accepting that when you made an error, accepting the consequences, and learning from the mistake are the correct next steps.

BE Respectful

Now more than ever do we live in a global village and that is also true in the classroom. Be nice and courteous to everyone. Also, this means making sure you are not being a distraction to others by coming in late, talking, playing on your phone, and so on.


Welcome to college. Did you think this was going to be easy?

plan, plan, plan

Get a daily planner and get your life organized. It will help reduce stress in your life by knowing where you’ll be at all times. Also, you will find that you have more time than you thought you did to get more work done.


Stress, when used correctly, can drive you to do what you have thought to be impossible. Control the things in life that you can including doing your work on time and sleeping enough.



Just like most everything else in life, you get out what you put in. Just because you sit in a room does not mean that you pass the class. Just because you bought the ticket, does not mean you will see the movie. Every point in this class must be earned. Do not expect rewards for something that you did not work for.


As stated above, this is college. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will lose sleep. Yes, it will be stressful. The sooner you accept it, the better. Do not waste time and energy fighting it.

Wait to ask for help

It is okay if you get stuck on a problem, as long as you gave yourself plenty of time to ask for help. And, be sure to come for help early enough for you to be able to continue to practice and make sure you understand. Come by the office, write an email, meet on Skype. Use the resources that are available to you to help you succeed. Coming in the day of the test for material that was covered weeks prior is too late.

make excuses

You are not the only student in the class that has other classes, job(s), child(ren), etc. There have been many before you with terrible situations and have worked hard enough to, not only pass, but to excel in the class. Excuses are like heavy weights that drag down the desire to be successful.


You should be concerned about your grade from the first day. Many students have come to my office past the withdraw date pleading for extra credit and saying they need to pass. However, they should have been worried about the opportunities for credit in the class all along. As the question goes: If you were given a rope, do you build a bridge or a noose?

Live in the tutoring center

Professors hear all of the time their students saying that they spend hours in the tutoring center. That is not what the center is for. You are to go to the center and to office hours with a list of your questions ready, get them answered, and leave. Doing your homework in the tutoring center does not help because doing homework is not studying.