After being a college professor for 5 years, I've come up with some helpful ways to help students achieve greater academic success and be a good student in the process.
1.) EVALUATE THE TEACHER
Let's state the obvious here: a good or bad teacher can single-handedly impact your learning experience to Become a Master Student. What you want to know is if your course is being taught by a general educator, or an educator with a special emphasis? Ideally, you want a teacher with an emphasis on a specific subject or related subjects such as accounting/economics or English/creative writing. The longer the teacher has taught a subject, the more likely they are to have mastered it. The teachers who are truly passionate also tend to be leaders in their fields or have author credits. They also tend to have a waiting list to get into their class. Once again, interview former students and get a first-hand accounting of their experiences so that you know what you are getting into in terms of teaching styles.
2.) RESEARCH THE COURSE
When selecting classes make sure that you do research on the course. Primarily you should be concerned with the answers to these important questions: Does the course provide you with the credits you need? Is this the right time to take this class? Does it realistically fit into your schedule? Also, make an effort to confirm that the course description is congruent with what is actually taught in the class? Interviewing former students who can give testimony about the class should be a part of your research as well.
4.) STUDY THE SYLLABUS
Don't just read it; study it! This will be your chance to honestly assess whether the class and/or the teacher are a good match for you. First year students tend to overestimate their ability (and time) to handle a heavy workload. Anticipate two hours of homework per class for proper study time.
5.) CROSS REFERENCE DATA
On your reading assignments and in your books, highlight unfamiliar vocabulary, terminology, and names. Foreign vocabulary terms should be defined, and terminologies and names can be investigated in Google or on Wikipedia.com. Every business has a language of its own. Become fluent in yours to communicate better with your peers. This is the difference between saying "you took a class," and "you know the subject."
6.) FIND PUBLICATIONS ON THE SUBJECT
Classes of any kind only scratch the surface. To really gain a deeper understanding and a greater appreciation of what you are taught, find a publication on the subject. These publications (commonly called trade magazines) will help you process what you are studying and enable you to place your education in an industry context.
7.) CREATE A STUDY GROUP
Two heads are always better than one. Pick out two or three people with different personalities from yours and create a study group to meet once a week to discuss the subject matter covered in class. This is a great way to stimulate intellectual thought, challenge perspectives, and share information.
8.) FIND A MENTOR
This should be someone that you not only admire, but also want to emulate. They should have similar accomplishments that you are striving for, and be willing to help you achieve your own success. The key to finding a good mentor is to become a better student while demonstrating the promise of being a future ally.