How To Succeed in College/Understanding How College Works

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In one sense, college is not that complicated, but on the other hand, there are some complexities to deal with. Depending on where you go and what your chosen field of study is, attaining an undergraduate degree can be a more or less difficult.

This book is about succeeding in undergraduate education, so that will be discussed. Depending upon where you go, your experience can be vastly different. If one goes to a community college for a couple of years and then goes to a four year college for another two years to complete their degree, they will have a different experience than if one goes to a four year college for all for years, or if one decides to complete two majors in three years. Luckily, in many respects, the basics will be the same wherever you go.


Often each term, one will take anywhere between 3-5 classes if one attends college full time.

Grades, Tests, Presentations, Papers, Participation and other Fun Stuff[edit]

Grades are given on performance. There are myriad of ways performance can be measured. Tests can be given, and these can can consist of multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, short answers, full out essays, and probably other formats. Teachers are often creative.

Papers are often assigned in college. These will often become more complex and rigorous as you move along in your education.

Presentations are required for some classes.

The yearly cycle[edit]

Some schools go on trimesters, and some go on a semester system. Presuming one takes summers off, this means that if one takes classes from Fall to Spring, then for a semester system, one will go through two cycles of classes, and if one is on a trimester system, one will experience three cycles of classes. On a trimester system, if one takes classes all year round, then they will experience four cycles of classes - Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Let it also be noted that classes may count for few credits if they are on a trimester system.


Many institutions have certain requirements to graduate. There will be prerequisite requirements, and then there will be requirements specific to the majors and minors that you choose.


Each class will be taught by a professor, or maybe a teaching assistant (TA).