Bonnie Jean Gallagher By Bonnie Jean Gallagher • November 3, 2015

Top 3 Survival Skills All College Students Need to Master

You’ve been admitted to college, received your academic program evaluation, and registered and paid for your courses. You are excited to go back to school and complete your degree, but suddenly, panic begins to set as you wait for your term to begin. Thoughts whirl through your head:

What if I don’t have time to study?

What if I miss an assignment?

Will I fall behind so far I won’t be able to catch up?

How can I keep track of the assignments I need to complete?

You are not alone in having these thoughts! We all become a little nervous when starting something new. The key to staying calm and not panicking can be summed up in three words: motivation, organization and discipline. Mastering these three skills will help you create a game plan to steadily move forward toward finishing your degree.  

How can these three skills help you survive? Let’s start with the definition of each word as it pertains to your college career.


Motivation is what propelled you to apply to college. Motivation is what will keep you going when you’re studying at one o’clock in the morning. Motivation is what prompted you to read this blog! 


Organization will prevent you from tearing out your hair in frustration. Organization will help when you can’t find that essay you know you submitted but did not yet receive a grade for. Organization will help maintain order when you feel overwhelmed with schoolwork. 


Discipline is the helpmate of organization. If you are organized, it is easy to be disciplined. Discipline can be as simple as setting aside half an hour each day to read your textbook or as involved as creating a schedule for studying.

How Can I Become More Organized and Disciplined?

I like to tell new students to never underestimate the power of a calendar. 

Smartphones today have all-inclusive calendar apps. Simply input your course assignments and readings into your schedule and set multiple alerts to remind you about due dates and when to study. If you prefer the paper method, incorporate your assignments and exams within your main calendar. You will be able to view all your responsibilities side by side and plan studying around your other activities.

Also keep in mind that the key to your game plan is to view studying as being just as important as a business meeting or appointment, or whatever event you feel is important enough not to miss. By making an “appointment” with yourself to study, you will find the time for your course work.

Developing guidelines and tools for yourself while maintaining a positive attitude will help you stay on track in your studies. Take it one day at a time and before you know it, you’ll be applying for graduation!

Bonnie Jean Gallagher

Written by Bonnie Jean Gallagher

Bonnie Jean Gallagher is a counselor in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services, where she enjoys helping students figure out the degree program that best fits their background and future goals. Her motto is “all questions are good questions,” so email her your degree queries at

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