A Guaranteed Path to Academic Success
A Guaranteed Path to Academic Success
Brad Stewart, PhD
Vice President and Provost
Students’ academic success is our most
important goal here at Montgomery College.
Our faculty members are dedicated to communicating the most up-to-date
knowledge and skills in their disciplines through a wide variety of proven
teaching strategies and techniques. Our
staff members offer a wide variety of academic support and tutoring services
and our learning centers and computer labs contain the latest in educational software
and other technology. In other words, we
offer a learning environment that contains everything students need for
Unfortunately academic success is not
automatic. MC faculty and staff can’t just
unscrew the tops of your heads and pour in the knowledge and skills you need to
graduate and enter the workforce. A
large part of academic success depends on student motivation. In other words, you have show up and do your
part. You have to make use of the tools
and support we offer at MC. Academic
success rarely happens by accident. You
have to want it and I can help. I have
five suggestions on how to be successful.
In fact, if you follow these suggestions everyday during your college
career, I guarantee you’ll be successful.
I can make this guarantee because in more than 30 years as a college
instructor, advisor, professor and administrator, I have never seen a student
fail if he or she followed these five suggestions every day. There is no magic in these suggestions
although each of them is based on hundreds of research studies about how people
learn effectively. Are you ready to take
steps to guarantee your academic success?
Here’s what you need to do:
Go to Class. Go to every class. Be there on time. This suggestion only works if you do
everything in your power to attend every single class. And if you miss a class to tend some
important emergency, get in touch with one of your classmates as soon as
possible and find out what went on class.
This suggestion is crucial for two reasons. First, the research on how people learn
clearly demonstrates the importance of time on task. The more time you spend trying to learn
something, the more you learn. Second,
almost all college professors spend the most class time on the concepts and
information they want you to learn. Let
me put it another way, if you want to know what will be on the exams or in the
paper assignments for a course, go to class.
The professor will spend most of his or her time talking about these
topics. There is no substitute for going
Do Your Assignments on Time. College instructors are different than high
school teachers. They do not give
assignments to just to keep you busy.
They spend a lot of time crafting assignments that are designed to help
you learn a theory, concept or set of facts.
Faculty members understand that time on task is the best way for you to
learn a theory or a concept, how to solve a math problem, or learn the parts of
eye. You should also know that most
faculty members view blowing off assignments or turning them in late as an
indicator that you really don’t care about learning the material or passing the
course. Also, make sure you do your own
work unless your professor indicates that you may work in groups on an
assignment. Learn what plagiarism is and
be sure not to engage in it. You make
fail an assignment, you may fail a course, and you may be dismissed from MC if
you engage in plagiarism.
Talk to Your Professors. You should do this for two very important
reasons. First, if you don’t understand
the course material, the best person to ask about it is the instructor. Tutors and your classmates can be very
helpful but the best person to answer questions is the professor. Second, college instructors enjoy the
opportunity to talk with students about their academic disciplines. Third, talking to your professors also
indicates that you want to learn the material and they may provide you with all
kinds of hints and tips about how to study, what the best paper topics are,
etc. Oh, and by the way, talking to your
professors is more time on task.
Read Everything. Read
your texts, read your syllabus, read course handouts, read everything your
professors give you. Also, read
everything the financial aid office, the business office, the Security office
or your advisor gives you. And read
these things until you understand them because is what everybody at the College
assumes is happening. In U.S. colleges
and universities, words on paper or in electronic messages are the most
important form of communication. If you
do not understand something in class or from your advisor or from the financial
aid office, ask about it as soon as possible.
The longer you wait, the more serious the consequences will be. And, you guessed it; reading is another form
of time on task.
Respect the Teaching and Learning
Environment. There are several parts to
this suggestion. First, read and follow
the policies and procedures contained in the MC Student Code of Conduct. Second, read and follow the directions,
rules, and regulations contained in the syllabi for each of your courses. Third, turn off all of your wireless devices
in class. Allowing your cell phone to
ring, listening to music, text messaging, or twittering in class indicates to
your instructor that you are not interested what he or she is attempting to
teach you. Such actions will also likely
be interpreted as a sign of disrespect by the person who will be assigning you
a grade for the course. Multi-tasking is
not time on task. Fourth, MC is a
tobacco and smoke free environment. Do
not use these products at MC. Finally,
please remember your primary purpose for being here is to learn and the same is
true of your fellow students. Please do
not engage in behaviors that disrupt the teaching and learning environment.
Use the Library and Academic Support
Centers and Services (New). The TP/SS Campus of Montgomery College
provides a wide variety of academic support and personalized help through its library
and academic support centers. The highly
trained and caring staff in the Library, the Writing, Reading and Language
Center, the Math/Science Learning Center, the Medical Learning Center, the Learning
Skills Support Center, the Social Sciences Computer Center, and the Campus
Information Technology Labs are all dedicated to helping you achieve academic
Remember, if you follow these suggestions
everyday, your academic success is guaranteed.
Following these suggestions will help you develop the habits of mind you
need to succeed in college and in the workforce. Everybody here at Montgomery College will be
more than happy to find ways to help you follow these suggestions. Just ask.
Click here to download a copy of Dr. Brad Stewart's motivational speech.