4 Shocking Truths of University-level Academics

Transferring from a community college to a 4-year university was a challenge for me.  I was used to my way of doing things and realized quickly that I was going to have to change some things up if I wanted my grades to improve.  Not only is the curriculum different, but the expectations are a higher standard as well.

Take Diligent Notes

Many professors will tell you that they put a lot of the information in lectures on their exams.  And for the most part this is true, which is why I highly recommend attending as many lectures as you can.

Figure out what style of note taking works best for you.  I tried taking just a notebook and pen to class.  For the most part, this didn’t work well for me at all.  The reason for this was a lot of my professors seemed to talk at extraordinary speed, and my hand could not keep up.  I then started taking my laptop to class and typing all of my notes.  This was my saving grace, because I can type way faster than I can write.  And the bonus was that it was an easier way of keeping everything I had organized.


I can’t begin to say that I’m a pro at this, considering I started making flashcards more towards the end of the year, but they really seemed to help.  I was fairly skeptical at first, because it seemed more like a memorization game than studying to me.  However, when I noticed a couple of my friends meticulously studying them and getting better grades on exams it was then I thought, “Why not try it?”

It helped me remember a lot of the key concepts I needed to know, especially for my Communication major, and I felt more relaxed taking tests knowing I was confident in telling the difference between specific theories.

Take Classes with Friends

I know it’s not high school anymore, and getting classes with friends is even tougher when you have completely different majors, but if at all possible take classes with people you know.

I was lucky with my first roommate in college with me having the same minor as her major.  I decided to minor in Sociology, because it really seemed to interest me at the community college, and I was fortunate to be able to take a sociology class with her.  And then she chose to minor in Communications, which is my major.  So it all worked out perfectly where we could take a couple classes together.

This helped a lot when it came to studying.  We could compare notes and help each other with concepts we weren’t familiar with or confused about.


I’m being completely serious when I say you really need to read everything your professor gives you.  I made the mistake of thinking I could get by without doing this, and I was very wrong to naively believe I could still get an A or a B on tests.  So, please, take the time to read the material that’s mandatory.


Unless the professor specifically says they want you to use personal examples, DON’T.  Even if professors say they want your opinion you should really take this lightly.  Most of the time they want you to regurgitate what they’ve talked about in class, so I would stick to the material at hand from your lecture notes and the reading, and you will do well.

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Kali White

Kali White

Kali White is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing a degree in Communications and a minor in Sociology. Her goal is to have a career working for a publication company writing and editing. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, reading, playing and listening to music, and travelling.