Tips for Academic Success

Attending class

During the first few class meetings, the instructor outlines the work required for the entire semester, including test dates, any projects, reports or papers, and due dates. Instructors provide a course syllabus or course outline with their name, office location, and hours. Make it a point to talk to your professor either before or after class or make an appointment for a meeting in the office. Get acquainted. This applies to students in the self-paced classes as well as those with scheduled class meetings.

Studies show that students who attend class regularly make higher grades than those who do not. The instructor determines class attendance requirements.


The K-State faculty is a diverse group with a variety of instructional styles ranging from casual to formal.

Most professors prefer to have students address them formally (i.e., Dr. Smith); others, however, prefer first name usage. Determine individual preferences by observing your faculty members and watching for clues. You will never be wrong if you address your professor as Doctor or Professor, at least until they ask you to be more informal.

Your instructors' teaching methods vary. They may address questions and/or announcements during the first (or last) few minutes of class. Some instructors read their lectures, others deliver them from closely followed notes, others develop their material from student asked questions, and some seem to have no definite pattern. Some instructors like discussion classes, some stress self-paced learning, others require student group presentations.

Do not allow the individual style or quirks of the lecturer distract your attention from the content being presented. You will not be tested on the number of times the professor paced the classroom, adjusted eyeglasses, or cleared his/her throat.

Talk to the professor about an assignment or project if you are uncertain about the specific requirements. Remember, whenever the instructor refers to an article or book that relates to the current topic, it is wise to make a note of the title. If your time allows, find the reference and review the material; it will help you understand the topic better.

Honor and Integrity System

K-State implemented an honor and integrity system in 1999. “Undergraduate and graduate students, when they register, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the K-State Honor System. The policies and procedures of the Honor System apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, as well as on-line. A component vital to the Honor System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge, which applies to all assignments, examinations, and other course work undertaken by students.” (K-State Honor and Integrity website)

"On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work." (K-State Honor and Integrity website)

Please review the website at

Study skills

Most beginning and returning students feel rusty when it comes to studying, so, here are some positive plans of action. Take your choice:

1. Enroll in a study skills course

Enhanced University Experience (EDCEP 111) is a 16-week, three credit course for undergraduates scheduled with a small number of students per section. It combines an orientation to the university with academic skills instruction (Time Scheduling, Priority Setting and Concentration, Study Techniques, Test Preparation, and Test Taking) and direct application of these techniques to targeted social science, science and math courses. There is a special non-traditional student lecture section of EDCEP111 offered in the fall. Check with your advisor.

2. Get a tutor

The Academic Assistance Center provides FREE tutoring for a variety of general courses. Go to 101 Holton Hall, 201 Leasure Hall or call 532-5703. Another option is to obtain a tutor through a department. Some departments list the names of persons who might do private tutoring. These tutors usually charge a fee. For Veterans, the Veteran's Coordinator in the Office of Student Financial Assistance determines veterans' eligibility for free tutoring assistance in 14 Fairchild Hall.

3. Go to special help sessions

Some departments provide special help sessions, usually in the afternoon. Check with your instructor or the departmental office. Also, the Residence Life Academic Resource Centers (Derby and Kramer) provide academic assistance. Seek help early. Don't wait until you are overwhelmed.

4. Set an appointment with your instructor

Arrange an appointment as soon as possible for tips and suggestions. Have specific questions in mind.

5. Take remedial or lower level courses

Take courses such as Writing Laboratory (ENGL 030), Intermediate Algebra (MATH 010), and Developmental Reading Lab (EDSEC 050), even though they do not count toward degree requirements, before you attempt required courses. Your Academic Advisor can assist you with this decision.

6. Meet with a study skills counselor

For those who qualify (low income, minority, or first generation college students) the Educational Supportive Services program office (ESS) provides a counselor at certain times each week. Make an appointment for an individual consultation by contacting ESS, 201 Holton Hall, 532-5642.

7. See your advisor

Plan to vary your schedule so that you do not take all of the hardest courses in the same semester.

8. Repeat (retake) the course

You can retake a course at a later time if you received a very low grade. The retake course and credit hours will be entered on your transcript during the semester retaken and the retake grade will replace the original grade. (Note: Check out the limitations!) However, the low grade will remain on your transcript.

9. Remember

Everything else being equal, 12 hours with good grades is better than 15 hours with mediocre grades. 12 hours is often a full-time load, especially if you also have work/family responsibilities. You must maintain full-time enrollment status of at least twelve hours to receive full-time student financial aid.

10. Writing Assistance

The K-State Writing Center welcomes active discussions with writers from all disciplines and experience-levels across the campus community. We are committed to developing writing and critical thinking through collaborative learning. In one-to-one consultations, students talk about their writing projects with trained writing tutors (most of whom are fellow students). We provide feedback at any stage of the writing process to enable students to gain awareness of writing strategies; improve writing assignments or non-academic writing; and increase their sense of competence, confidence, and ownership in writing.

Additional tips for the successful student

1. Study locations

It is helpful for most students to select a specific study location. Going to the same place helps you prepare mentally for studying. Some study location suggestions: a quiet area of the Union, the Hale Library, the Hoffman Lounge in Justin Hall, or empty classrooms in various buildings. Please read the campus safety brochure prior to making study location decisions.

2. Note taking

Important! Write down information from lectures and class discussions (class notes). Your note taking skills will improve with practice. Initially, you might want to take notes and also tape record the lecture. Afterwards, replay the recording to make additions to your notes. A helpful memory tool is to review your notes within one hour after class. The lecture information is the basis for many test questions.

3. Text reading

Other sources of information in college courses are the textbooks and handouts. Consult your course syllabus and instructor assignments to know what chapters to read. Many courses have large amounts of reading. Plan ahead so all of your reading is completed prior to the class time. Many students use highlighting markers to identify the more important material. Some textbooks have questions at the end of the chapter for review.

4. Homework

Most college classes do not require you to turn in daily assignments. In some courses, the assignments are a review or practice session and papers are not collected for grades. A rule of thumb about undergraduate work is that for every hour of class, a student should spend at least two hours outside of class studying and preparing for class.

5. Using the library

There is an Information Center on the second floor of Hale Library. The desk is staffed by librarians prepared to help and guide you. The open stack system is easy to use once you learn the arrangement. Staff will also assist you on using the computer-based cataloging system and research databases.

You also have access to three special libraries: Weigel Library of Architecture and Design; Math/Physics Library; and the Veterinary Medical Library.

6. Library tip

If you receive a letter/e-mail stating the library records show you have not returned items that you have in fact returned, do not ignore the correspondence. Check with the library personnel quickly to correct the records.

Survival tips

Sometime during the semester, you may encounter frustration and difficulties. This is normal. Keep going and keep in mind these principles:

  1. If you don't know, ask. Keep asking until you understand the situation.
  2. Start with the Non-Traditional Student Services staff and return from time to time for help or redirection.
  3. Know your academic advisor and be sure he/she has an opportunity to get to know you.
  4. Attend classes regularly.
  5. Keep up with assignments. If you need help, get a tutor.
  6. Read the Kansas State Collegian to know what is going on around campus.
  7. Make use of the services available on campus, including the Non-Traditional Student Services office.
  8. College is more than books and classes. It is a whole experience that comes from being with people, having cultural experiences, and learning more about you.
  9. K-State has professional counseling help available too. Most students find this helpful.

Time management tips

  1. Set priorities including learning to say "no" so that you have study time. Use small blocks of time to study.
  2. Make a schedule, whether daily or weekly, by experimenting to find what works best for you.
  3. Plan when you will study for each class and write this into your schedule. Be specific. For example, from 7:30-8:30 write "read psychology" rather than just identifying a block of study time.
  4. Scheduling Tips
    1. If possible, study when you are most alert.
    2. Do your math homework as soon as possible after attending class while the problems are fresh in your mind.
    3. Rotate the order you study so that you do not always study the same subject late at night when you are the most tired and least able to learn.
    4. Once a week, rapidly review all lecture notes taken since the last test.
    5. Schedule ample time for text reading. Reading takes a great deal of time and needs to be done on a regular basis.
    6. Schedule some open study time that can be used for whatever is most urgent.
    7. Use time between classes to study.

(from Reading and Study Skills Center, Wichita State University)

For additional tips on time management strategies, visit

You and your family

If your spouse, family, parents, or friends are not supportive of your returning to school, try to understand that they are afraid you will change and that will mean change for them. Do not forget to schedule some special time for your family when you design your schedule.

It may help to find another non-traditional student who can offer support and understanding. Talk to someone. Most likely, when you are happy with yourself and your accomplishments, this pleasure will spread to others and they will become more supportive of your efforts.

Let your family participate as much as possible in your new endeavor. Keep them informed of your busy times and enlist their help. Usually, they are proud of you and want you to succeed.

Dealing with stress

If pressure starts to build, where can you turn? Often, just talking to someone will help. That "someone" could be your advisor, the Non-Traditional Student Services staff at 532-6434, or other non-traditional students. In addition, there are professional counselors at University Counseling Services (532-6927) located on the second floor of English/Counseling Services Bldg., or the Family Center (532-6984) located in the Campus Creek Complex. They are available on an individual basis at no or minimal cost. Periodically, there are planned workshops where individuals who are having the same concerns can share and learn from each other. Religious groups also provide trained personnel at several locations near campus.

Accept the fact that, at certain times during the semester (usually around midterm and a few weeks before finals), there will be a lot of deadlines. Every class has projects, papers and tests. Your stress level may be high. This is common among all students, including the newly returned non-traditional students. All persons experience these high-pressure times, including the faculty. If you expect and prepare for them, coping will become easier.

Warn your family or friends of anticipated stress periods. Posting your exam schedule on the refrigerator and delegating additional responsibility to others at these times may help your family. Plan to recharge yourself by letting down and relaxing once the semester is over.

For additional tips on how to manage stress, visit


Most instructors give one or more tests and a final examination during a semester. Instructors' test styles vary. Exam questions can take many forms: multiple choice, true-false, essays, matching, etc. Ask your instructor what type of exam will be given. Some instructors grade exams by computer. In that case, you will mark your test answers on a computer card. You may ask the instructor in advance for a card so that you can familiarize yourself with it. Also, be sure to double check with each of your instructors concerning the dates, times, and locations of final examinations. A schedule of final exams is found here and in your individual class syllabus. Early in the semester, write the dates and times of all your hourly and semester final exams into your programmer.

Your first test in each course can help you determine how to study. If your grade is not what you had hoped, talk with the instructor for advice. Take advantage of the help sessions many departments offer, get tutorial assistance, or study with a friend. The university offers special assistance in several of the generally required freshman courses. Check at 201 Leasure Hall regarding such tutoring assistance. Also, find out whether your instructor has old tests on reserve in the library or office which you can use as an additional study aid. Remember that it is not unusual to get discouraged after the first test score if it is lower than you expected.


You will obtain your semester grades on KSIS. A special letter indicating semester honors or probationary status will be sent from your dean's office. If you question any grade you receive, check with your instructor at once. If you take an incomplete ("I"), the work should be made up by the end of the next semester. After you have completed the work, it pays to check with the registrar's office to make certain a grade change form has been sent in by your instructor. If the "I" (incomplete) remains on the record after the end of the next semester, it will be designated as "IX" for record-keeping purposes and will be weighted as 0 points per credit in computing the student's GPA. The designation of "NR" (no grade reported) will be treated in the same manner. See also the KSU Undergraduate or Graduate University Catalog.

Honoraries/honor societies

Many colleges and some departments have scholastic based organizations, which honor students who have outstanding academic and personal service qualifications. Often, membership in these organizations is by invitation and faculty recommendation. Check with your advisor or department chairperson for more information.


Pinnacle is a National Honor Society for non-traditional students. Non-traditional students with junior standing or above with at least a 3.0 GPA at K-State are invited to join. The Honor Society was established in 1989 to honor academic excellence of non-traditional students. Over 150 colleges and universities have Pinnacle chapters.