How to Student

On starting strong

  • Spend the first week of classes observing the pace of each course, checking out the syllabus, the faculty expectations, how assignments are structured and how often they’re due.
  • Do your reading/ homework and take note of how long it takes you, and set aside at least that much time each week for the course – more if you have a number of larger or long-term assignments.
  • Make a to-do list so when it’s time to work, you can cross things off and see the progress you’ve made. Then celebrate that progress with some well-earned time for all of the other things college is about.
  • When you schedule time for work, make sure that you’re setting time aside for yourself as well. Make commitments with friends when you know you will be able to enjoy yourself.
  • Be intentional – take a few minutes at the beginning of the day to decide what you’re going to do that day. And take a few minutes at the end of the day to think about what worked and what didn’t (they’re equally important) and decide how you want to approach tomorrow. Then go to bed, while it’s still today.


  • For students with LD/ADHD, please remember that you're bringing your brain with you from high school, so consider working with EAD to arrange accommodations as early as possible. Students with a history or suspicion of ADHD may choose to take advantage of our Surviving and Thriving with ADHD workshop or individual appointments with the Academic Counselor.
  • International students may face different challenges adjusting to the U.S. academic environment and may want to consider working with Vanderbilt's English Language Center, attending a Culture Cafe in September, and/or meeting with the Academic Counselor.


On Being a “Good Student”

  • Show up. Show up show up show up. The single best thing you can do for your grade is to be present in class, even when the professor doesn’t take attendance.
  • Take notes. Handwritten is better, but the important part is that you’re listening and evaluating the information as you go. Ask questions.
  • Review your notes after class. Every day, or at least every week. – not just when you have a test.
  • Work steadily, don’t wait for mythical large blocks of time.
  • Talk to your professor and/or TA. Go to office hours with questions!
  • Use available and appropriate resources, from A&S Tutoring  and help desks for subject material, to the Writing Studio for writing, to the PCC for academic counseling.