How To Survive College - The Hard Way

Aug 19, 2006 (Updated Aug 20, 2006)

The Bottom Line To go to college is tough; to remain, stay in college is tougher; to earn a college degree is toughest. But it's worth it!

I titled my piece, " How To Survive College- The Hard Way " because I believe that there is no other way but the hard way. College life is akin to the jungle life where you to fight for your survival. Attending college is not easy and a college degree is not for everyone who enrolled in college.

There are many hurdles, hardships, pitfalls, trials and traps along the way for college students. At least, the college dropout rate is 40 per cent or more. You have to shed a bucket of tears and climb ten mountains to earn a college degree. One of my college teachers once said, " A college degree is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration". It's a jungle out there. You have to survive it!

I know that college life is so difficult part of young person's life. I know, I had been there. It took me six years ( summers classes included ) to earn my two undergraduate degrees; three years ( masteral thesis included ) to get my masters diploma; another four years to earn my Ph.D.( one year for doctoral dissertation ). To top that, I taught college for twenty years. I saw and experienced both sides: As a college student and as a college teacher. I saw and experienced college life is not a walk in the park. It is not a path strewn with roses. College life is not always days of wine and daffodils but it demands hard work and a lot of sacrifice. Like jungle survival, it's survival of the fittest!


1. Start strong and place your best foot forward. Be prepared in all aspects- physically( your health ), mentally, financially. Be open-minded. It's a new environment for you.

2. Aim high. Set your goals and objectives. Know where you're going.

3. Know your limitations, your academic strengths and weaknesses. If you're strong in science, improve it. If you're weak in math, aim to get a grade A in math. I mean you have to conquer your weakness in math. I remember one college classmate of mine who was a weak in science. He hated memory work in biology, microbiology, etc. He hated memorizing names of muscle and skeletal system, formulas and other terminology in science subjects. But he came out earning straight " A's " in science subjects. I found out he devoted more hours of study in his science subjects every day. You have to overcome your academic weaknesses
if you expect to succeed in college and earn your degree.

4. Budget your time and money. Two common causes of dropouts in college are poor grades and depleted finances.
Poor grades are results of poor study habits or no time to study. Avoid spending your time in extra-curricular activities like party time and dates. We had a term of
a college classmate who had fallen madly in love with a his fellow classmate that he neglected his studies- he enrolled in a " 9-unit subject "- Love subject. It was a heavy load.

5. Don't get distracted. Control your relationship. Months ago, a female college student from USC in L.A. was indicted for murder of her own new-born baby. She allegedly dumped her baby in the trash can. She was only a sophomore in USC.

6. Learn and love to read books extensively. You must enjoy reading. If you hate reading boring, professional, college textbooks and references, you will not enjoy college life and probably you will not succeed in college.

7. Learn how to be a fast reader. I used to put a sticker on my collegiate books and references with this passage: So many books, so little time!

8. Cultivate that ability to quickly find, digest the key words and main ideas of the material or book you are reading.

9. Never proscrastinate in your study and reading assignments. Your reading assignments will pile up and you will not recover in time.

10. Improve your computer proficiency. Owning a computer is a must to a college student, preferably a laptop. Buy all the educational gizmos in the market- tape recorder to tape classrooms lectures, research softwares.

11. Make your class schedules, projects and a list of books to read. Stick to it.

12. Avoid bad company and drugs. Don't smoke. That may lead to alcohol and drugs. The smoking habit always go, maybe later, with alcohol use and eventually drug abuse. They are the " dangerous trio ".

If you are accepted to enroll and enter college this September, be happy and consider yourself lucky and privileged. In America today, less than twenty per-cent
who graduated from high school in 2006 can go to college. Remember that hard work and dedication to one's pursuit are always rewarded. Good luck and I hope you're a survivor in college. Earn your degree! Just do it!!

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