Magazine article The CPA Journal

Success Strategies for Students

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Success Strategies for Students

Article excerpt

PREPARED STUDENTS WILL BE EQUIPPED TO ASK meaningful questions about what they have read or cannot understand.

Taking accounting, business, or professional development courses presents many challenges to students and entails significant personal obligations. Many instructors believe that for each hour spent in class, students must devote a minimum of two additional hours to master course matter, primarily through reading and homework assignments. In light of this significant time commitment, success in the classroom requires certain learning strategies.

Making Strategic Decisions

There are many ways for students to improve their performance. The suggestions made here are especially applicable to compressed summer sessions and professional development courses. Students should carefully consider, in advance, why they are taking a course and what their approach to it will be.

When considering a new course, seek advice from students whose opinions you value, who have taken the course recently, or who are familiar with the instructor. Opinions can vary, so getting reactions from several people is more helpful.

Obtain a copy of the current course outline or syllabus from the academic department or organization offering the course. Review it carefully for its coverage and course requirements. Look at the course texts and other materials, which may be in a campus, organization, or public bookstore; in the hands of fellow students who have already taken the course; or in an academic department's or organization's office.

If questions remain about the course, contact the instructor. If this is impossible, speak to another instructor who may be knowledgeable. For college courses, bear in mind that there are usually breaks of a few weeks between semesters, during which instructors may not be on campus.

Before deciding to take courses, consider other obligations to family, friends, and employer that might conflict with classes or limit time for homework. Be realistic when deciding if current commitments, personal plans, or past inclinations will interfere. Deceiving oneself about the desire to attend class, particularly in the summer, can be dangerous.

Getting Off to a Good Start

If taking a college course, obtain the course materials as soon as the prior semester ends and the campus bookstore stocks them. You may be able to borrow the text from someone else if the bookstore does not yet have it. When repeating a course, learn whether the materials are the same. Following the course outline's order, devote some time to reading the texts beforehand. This is most useful in summer sessions and professional development courses. Begin the homework assignments, or at least begin to think about them.

Should it be necessary to repeat a course, retain all class and study notes and graded assignments to save future time and effort and improve performance.

Alert family, friends, and work associates about the study schedule. Let them know your studies are important and that you intend to devote ample time to them. If employed, try to schedule work hours, special projects, and any overtime such that they don't interfere with class attendance.

It is easy to be overwhelmed at a first class session by the instructor and course requirements. Advance work and familiarity with the course readings fortifies against this fear and instills confidence.

When new to the course or instructor, be sure to inquire during the first meeting about the nature and coverage of any examinations. Similarly, clarify how the final course grade will be calculated. The first class meeting should also establish the scheduled dates and times for exams and assignments; plan ahead for the time it will take to prepare for them.

If employed on a full-time or part-time permanent basis, consider taking some vacation or personal time to study before exams, or try to rearrange work hours or take unpaid time off. …

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