How to be Successful in College

This graphic provides steps to help you make the most of your opportunities in college from start to finish. Success lies not simply in making good grades or developing your resume, but weaving together a number of strategies and resources. Click below to learn more.

Mapping Out Your Four Years

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Finding the right major for you can greatly boost your success academically. Students who are undecided, or who find they are not happy in the major they have chosen, often struggle to stay motivated in their classes. So it's important you utilize all of your resources to ensure you choose a major that is right for you! You also gain confidence as you dig a little more in-depth into a field that interests you, and you are more likely to form positive relationships with your faculty members.

It can be tough to find the right fit, and the hardest part is that there are no right answers. You will have to carve out a plan that makes sense for who you are, what most interests you academically and professionally, and what you feel most comfortable claiming as your major. If this has been an obstacle for you, please know that you are not alone. The exploration and discovery process will be very rewarding in the end, so hang in there.

Undecided? Set up an appointment at the Career Development Center

    • In the meantime, explore the different majors offered through AppState. 
    • Your first-year seminar and general education classes can open your eyes to topics and programs that you didn't consider before. Don't be afraid to branch out a bit!
    • Once you find a major that interests you, meet with a general advisor or with someone in the major department to set up your course of study.

Reconsidering Your Major? That's okay! 

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Professors like their subject area and became professors to share their knowledge with others. So don't be afraid to talk to your professor about any course material questions you may have! Professors are generally happy to help students and think highly of those students who do come to office hours to utilize their help.

You should also think of professors as professional connections. These are experts that are highly regarded in their field. If you want to progress in your field of study, their recommendation and guidance can make a world of difference. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you take classes with a variety of professors:

Participate during class

  • Attend every class, take notes, participate in the discussion, and stay off your phone. Your appearance in class is your professor's first impression of you, so make it count!
  • Ask appropriate questions. Chances are that your classmates have similar questions to you. Don't be afraid to ask questions during class if it is relevant!

Office Hours

  • Find your professor's office hours on the syllabus. You can drop by without an appointment, but it is a good idea to send an email stating that you will stop by.
    • Shy in class? Going to your professor's office hours can give you a chance to talk in a private, more comfortable setting.

Make polite requests

  • Be reasonable. Most professors are willing to work with students. They understand life happens and you may need an extension on an assignment or will have to miss class. However, make sure you are contacting your professor in a reasonable amount of time and be flexible.
  • Use "would" in your request. After explaining your situation, ASK the professor if your request could be honored. Ex: "I have three papers due on the same day and I'd really like to do my best. Would you mind letting me have one more day?"

Use appropriate email etiquette

Click below to learn some important email etiquette tips to use when communicating with your professor!

Email Etiquette

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Managing your stress is often a critical strategy to improve your success overall. Below are a few ways to cope with your stress.

Exercise Regularly

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day: You won't be able to always get the long, extended workout you want, but a small workout every day will reduce your stress.
  • Find something you enjoy doing: The University Recreation Center offers a wonderful assortment of free fitness classes, intramural sports, and workout centers.
  • Find some small way to add fitness into your day: walk extra steps, do stretches in your room. Sneak it in however you can, even on your busy days!

Eat Healthy

  • Pay attention to what you are eating: Nutrition has a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Eat more fruits and vegetables, and less of the foods that are less healthy. Moderation is key.

Get Enough Sleep

  • Stick to a regular sleeping schedule: Some students get up early on days they have early classes, but then sleep very late on other days, and this kind of schedule can really make it challenging to be alert and productive. Be realistic, but aim for consistency.
  • Look into sleep counseling if you struggle to sleep: Take advantage of health services and counseling services on campus to explore what might help.

Recognize the value of stress. 

It's important to note that some stress can be a good thing. Click the graphic below to discover the Upside of Stress! 

The Upside of Stress


Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

  • Get in the habit of breathing deeply: This will clear your head to face whatever challenges lie ahead. And whenever you can tell you are feeling stressed, such as before a test or presentation, take ten deep breaths.
  • The Wellness Center offers meditation and mindfulness services.

Save some time for friends

  • Set meal times or hangouts with friends: While some students have to learn to set limits on socializing, others need to make this more of a priority. If you want to make new friends, consider joining a club or student organization. Find out more about these options at

Talk to someone

  • Look into counseling: Counseling on campus is a wonderful resource to aid in managing stress, especially if you find some of the above strategies are not helping. Keep in mind that counseling is a process that takes time, rather than a quick fix.

Find out what our student workers do to manage their stress! 

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After reviewing what could be holding your GPA back and how to raise it, these helpful resources are available for getting your grades back on track.

What's holding your GPA back? How can you raise it?  

(click to find out)

What's Holding Your GPA Back?

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Successful students connect with campus resources to help them reach their goals. Get connected! 

As a student of Appalachian State, you have access to many different resources designed to help you reach your full capabilities. Explore the different campus resources listed below to help you be successful during your time at Appalachian State: 

Academic Consultations 

Meet with a study skills specialist to discuss strategies and study plans on an individual basis.  


Consider this weekly support service to aid students with executive function challenges (EFCs), such as organization, planning and setting priorities, getting started and completing tasks, monitoring progress on tasks, and decision-making. An application is required for this program because spaces are limited.

Career Development Center 

Develop a career plan with a career counselor, revise and share your resume with employers, sign up for practice interviews, and receive alerts about real interviews.

Career Exploration Center

Meet with students, graduate students, or a professional career counselor to explore options for majors and to identify strengths and interests.

Library Research Assistance 

Sign up for a Research Advisory Program appointment to gain extensive support on research projects.

Office of the Dean of Students 

The Dean of Students oversees Student Conduct, the Student Legal Clinic, Off-Campus Community Relations, and Parent and Family Services. The Dean of Students is available to all students and families.

Office of Disability Resources 

Students with documented disabilities may qualify for accommodations such as extended time on tests or distraction-reduced testing environments.

Office of Student Success (OSS) 

OSS is committed to improving the undergraduate experience for the students of ASU by connecting students to resources, providing Academic Success Workshops, academic coaching, and more.

Peer Academic Coaching 

Sign up for regular weekly appointments with a trained peer tutor to develop study plans and manage deadlines. 

Tutoring Services 

Sign up to meet with a tutor to discuss specific course content. Drop-in learning lab options are available for many subjects.

Writing Center 

Drop in or arrange an appointment to discuss a writing project with a consultant. These conversations may be helpful at any point in the writing process.

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