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Tips for Student Success

Students and parents have already heard that "college is not like high school." Teaching and learning methods are different, and students are expected to be more self-motivated.

Students typically find that when they establish academic goals and combine their studies with out-of-classroom learning opportunities, they gain more from their campus experiences, understand academic concepts more clearly, and earn better grade point averages.

Here are some considerations to help your student get off to a good start.

Select courses carefully—and sign up for a freshman seminar

Students benefit by taking a variety of courses.Although they must meet a series of general requirements, students will enjoy their courses more if they have at least one class each semester that really piques their interest. In small classes, students tend to get to know an instructor and other classmates better.

A freshman seminar is a good option for the first or second semester. In small classes of 10 to 20, students connect with a senior faculty member and each other through discussion and analytical thinking. Language classes, too, are generally small and meet several times a week.

Participate in Welcome Week

All first-time, first-year degree-seeking students are required to participate in Welcome Week activities. Welcome Week gives students a jumpstart on their college experience. Students begin to:

  • Build a sense of community among their class.
  • Adjust to the campus's environment and its diverse culture.
  • Develop relationships with faculty, staff, community members, and other students.
  • Discover and access a multitude of resources.

Visit the Welcome Week website for additional information and schedule. 

On-campus employment

Research indicates that students who work on campus are more likely to stay in school and complete their degree. Campus jobs are conveniently located for students, and the pay rates often match comparable positions at off-campus jobs. Most important, students work with University staff who understand student issues and can connect them with valuable campus resources.

Student jobs generally range from 10 to 20 hours per week. Job listings are posted on the Office of Human Resources website.

Meet the faculty

Each semester, students should make an effort to get to know at least one faculty member. They can make an appointment or drop in during the instructor’s office hours and introduce themselves. It can be intimidating at first, but students can ask a question about class discussions or lectures, talk about their progress on an assignment, or just ask a general question about the class topic or the instructor's interest in it.

Check out campus involvement opportunities

More than 600 student organizations on the Twin Cities campus offer opportunities like special-interest student groups, campus leadership positions, and community service programs. Activities like these help students add value to their classroom learning.

A good place to start is the Student Unions & Activities office, 612-626-9919. The Community Service-Learning Center, 612-626-2044, can help students connect with community agencies.

Special opportunities for commuters

Commuter Connection provides a place on campus and support resources for commuter students. Commuter students can always find resources and support at Commuter Connection's lounge in Coffman Union. Visit the Commuter Connection, email commuter@umn.edu, or call 612-624-5491 for more information.

Form study groups

Working with classmates outside the classroom not only helps students understand coursework better, it helps them develop a sense of community. Students are encouraged to ask those who sit near them in class to meet for an hour or so a week to review homework and lecture notes. Study groups serve as an incentive to get the homework done and to go over difficult concepts with others.