As a non-traditional student, I don't personally have much to contribute in regards to navigating dorm life or campus eateries. (Though I will say that Mexican place in the Union has no right using the word "fresh" in its title) I know nothing about the Greek system, and when I think of IU basketball, the name Isaiah Thomas comes to mind, because, well, I'm old.
So I guess the point was to try and think of what kind of advice I might have to offer other students, from the perspective of someone whose focus is purely academic. Not to sound like someone on a reality show saying "I'm not here to make friends" as relationships are obviously a very valuable part of the college experience- But whether you want to make the Deans list or just not utterly fail, here are some helpful hints, just for you.
I know this seems obvious at first, but you can actually learn a lot from just showing up, and continuing to just show up, for every class you're enrolled in, day after day, week after week. Go whether you want to or not. Go even if the lecture notes are posted on Oncourse. Go whether or not attendance is taken. Go if its raining, snowing, or sunny - for you will surely encounter all these obstacles on a regular basis in Bloomington. Go on the Friday before break - you'll often get extra credit just for showing up. Go to discussion groups. Go even if you're not prepared. Just go. And keep going. All semester. Do not listen to the little voice in your head that will tell you its okay if you skip class just this once. That little voice has no idea what it's talking about, which is why you brought it to college. Go to class.
Another in the "this seems obvious" category- well it is. Here's the thing. A syllabus is your instruction manual for an A. It's a roadmap-or a GPS, whatever- its a very detailed guide for you to follow- telling you everything you need to know and do for a class if you want to do well. Do not just read them the first week, read them every week. Double check the syllabus BEFORE handing in an assignment. If you are prone to feeling lost, overwhelmed, or unorganized, the syllabus can help comfort you in times of need. Follow it closely, do the work assigned by it on time, and show up for class. It's that simple... but if you DO have problems?
I'm going to let you in on a little truth- your professors? They can see right through you. They have heard it ALL before and can tell if you're bullshitting them just from the way you walk as you approach them. You don't even have to open your mouth before they will know that your grandmother didn't really have surgery last week. So don't even try it. Just be honest. Things DO happen, life happens, and your instructors know this, because generally, they are smarter than you. Not only that, they've been lied to so many times that when they actually hear honesty from a student its almost like sprinkling them with magic fairy dust! So if you missed a week of class because you were in jail, or just went through a terrible breakup and couldn't get out of bed for days- you have a far greater chance of making up the work if you are honest about your situation. If you are struggling academically or personally, let them know. They want to help you do well. Really. But not if you lie. And BTW- those nice grad student instructors who seem younger and less jaded than the professors? They can tell you're lying too.
(Read Professors: The Do's and Don'ts for more helpful information on the matter)
So that's it. My simple foolproof guide to academic excellence can be summarized by saying: