Top Banner
Skip navigation and go to page content

General Information

Meet the Staff
Supportive Services
Registering with DSS
News and Calendar
Disability Parking
Student Handbook

Faculty/Staff Handbook

Campus Resources
Other Sources of Support

horizontal Separator

What are some of the skills for success that you must develop and practice?

The transition from high school, or even community college, to university represents a significant challenge. It is important, therefore, that you begin early, preferably while in high school, to develop the basic foundational skills you will need to be successful. You may need and receive appropriate academic adjustments and accommodations in college, but after these are provided it is your responsibility to do well. Consider developing, mastering and utilizing the following skills and strategies before and early on in your college career.


I need to:

Bullet Establish goals that will prepare me for college.
Bullet Take college preparation classes.
Bullet Improve my reading, writing, and math skills (these are the basic tools to learn and demonstrate mastery in all the disciplines).
Bullet Develop and improve strategies to compensate for my disability.
Bullet Learn and practice time management strategies.
Bullet Learn to study efficiently and effectively.
Bullet Learn about my best learning style.
Bullet Develop computer skills and word processing competencies.

Students with disabilities who have learned to rely heavily on both parents and teachers to direct them and manage their lives may have difficulty adjusting to the demands of college life. The students with disabilities who have been most successful are those who demonstrate self-reliance and the skills to cope with the ever-changing challenges of daily living. Some of the skills necessary to manage college life include the following.


I need to:

Bullet Take control of my life and develop independence.
Bullet Understand my disability and learn ways to compensate.
Bullet Learn to accept my disability by recognizing my abilities.
Bullet Identify my strengths and weaknesses.
Bullet Learn how to explain my disability and needs to others.
Bullet Learn how to articulate my abilities and talents clearly.
Bullet Learn how to ask for appropriate accommodations.
Bullet Learn that it is OK to use appropriate accommodations.
Bullet Learn that it is OK to ask for help.
Bullet Ask for help for personal or academic problems before it is too late to do so.
Bullet Develop mature social and personal skills.
Bullet Recognize that success or failure is up to me.
Bullet Discover and utilize support services on campus and take available remedial courses to improve basic skills if necessary.
Bullet Accept the idea that I may have to study harder than do my classmates.
Bullet Accept the reality that it might take longer than others to graduate, few graduate in four years.
Bullet Recognize that higher education is meant to be challenging and frustrations are to be expected.
Bullet Recognize that a college education is an eminent example of deferred gratification; I will need to persevere in the face of boredom and disinterest I may encounter with some courses or periods of my academic career.
Bullet Develop, with the above in mind, more immediate rewards and reinforcements to keep me on track towards my long-term goals.
Bullet Maintain frequent communication with family, friends, professors and the advisors on campus to assist me.
Bullet Foster curiosity and an appreciation for learning.


I need to:

Bullet Familiarize myself with all the rules, policies and procedures that pertain to me as a student by reading the University catalog, class schedules and relevant handbooks.
Bullet Plan on spending two to three hours of preparation and studying for every hour in class.
Bullet Plan a reasonable school, study, and work schedule Remember that, given the statement above, that a full-time load is equivalent to a full-time job.
Bullet Balance my class load with difficult/easier classes and major/general ed. classes.
Bullet Leave time before, after or between classes when scheduling classes during registration. Schedule no more than two classes back to back.
Bullet Make preparation for how to address my semester with the help of my advisors and counselor.
Bullet Seek a mentor through the Faculty/Staff and Student Mentor Program.
Bullet Go to all classes on time, participate, and ask questions when needed.
Bullet Allow extra time for long assignments.
Bullet Take advantage of special support services and tutoring sessions available on campus.
Bullet Take advantage of classes that offer instruction in basic skills and critical thinking skills such as those offered by the Reading Program.
Bullet Keep a calendar for all appointments and exam/assignments due dates.
Bullet Avoid procrastination; it is the college student's worst enemy!
Bullet Meet with instructors and DSS counselors before disaster strikes.
Bullet Visit the DSS office for assistance, questions, and/or counseling at least once a semester.

Bullet Arrange, at the beginning of the semester, for needed academic accommodations such as: books on tape, tape recorders, test accommodations, adaptive listening devices, interpreters, notetakers, etc.
Bullet Sit near the front of the class to minimize distractions.
Bullet Complete all assignments on time.
Bullet Organize projects in a step-by-step fashion.
Bullet Form study groups with classmates. (Teaching others helps one learn.)
Bullet Take notes and review them often by reading them out loud and/or rewriting or typing them into a word processor.
Bullet Use a tape recorder in lectures if appropriate.
Bullet Maintain good health and deal with personal crises so that I do not jeopardize my academic standing.
Bullet Remember, the record I hope to achieve is the record I am currently writing.
Bullet Balance my schedule and life, allowing time to eat, sleep, exercise and have some fun.

(the unabridged version)

1. Get organized at the beginning of the semester. Keep your syllabus or procedure sheet, handouts and notes for each class together in a folder or binder separate from those of other classes. Keep track of your materials.

2. Mark dates of tests, due dates for papers, personal obligations, etc., on your calendar. Do this at the beginning of each semester so you can easily anticipate time crunches.

3. Use a daily organizer to manage your time effectively. List all errands, classes, family obligations, work-hours, etc. Anticipate how much time each will take. Schedule them according to priority. Block off time for studying each day and try not to let other obligations eat away at that time. It's not as easy to waste time if you have a visual reminder of what you need to accomplish each day.

4. Take good notes in class. Listen to what your instructor says in class. Use a tape recorder, if necessary, to help you fill in information you missed (ask your instructor's permission, of course, if this is not one of your designated accommodations). At the end of each day, reread your notes and add information you remember but weren't able to write down in class. Organize your notes every day by writing topic headings in the margins, highlighting important information, and writing a short summary. (Yes, it's a lot of work. You'll be glad when test times come around, though; each of these exercises helps you remember, prioritize, and classify information.)

5. Keep up with your reading. Buy your textbooks before classes start, look them over and begin reading to get a head start. Read each assignment carefully and take notes (Use a highlighter right in the book if you don't plan to sell the book later, or, better yet, use an active reading strategy such as SQ4R.). The table of contents will not only show you where information is located within the book, but show you how it's organized, giving clues as to what information is most important and how one piece of information relates to the rest. Read abstracts, summaries and/or study questions for each chapter, if provided, before you start reading the main body.

6. Attend all of your classes. The temptations will be great to miss class when other obligations demand your time or you're feeling tired. But missing class means that you're missing important information that can help you succeed in the class. Sometimes missing class is unavoidable, but try not to let it become a habit. Keep school a priority! It is always your responsibility to arrange to get notes from classmates or to make up tests or in-class work in any classes you miss. Your instructor may want to be informed ahead of time if you must miss class and may have special instructions regarding makeup work.

7. Begin work on large projects or papers early. Breaking up big projects into a series of smaller tasks can make the assignment seem far less overwhelming. For a research paper, for example, find a topic and research it early in the semester. Then take notes from your research sources and write an outline for your paper. Now you can begin work on a first draft. Beginning these tasks early will leave you time to research more information if you need to, and to revise and refine your work in later drafts at the end. Your grade will reflect your extra effort!

8. Devote enough time to studying. For each hour you spend in a class, you should be spending 2-3 hours studying outside of class. Some classes will be easier or harder for you than others and will require less or more study time. Ask your instructor for an estimate of study time for success in his or her class.

9. Take frequent study breaks. Experts say that you study more efficiently and more information is retained if you take a ten- or fifteen-minute break between hours of study.

10. Study every day. Disciplining yourself feels good! (Learning to discipline yourself will help you succeed in other areas of your life as well as in school.) And studying every day will help you remember information so you won't have to cram for tests. Study skills experts agree that cramming leads to burnout and poor grades.

11. Find your time to study. Some people concentrate better in the morning, others in the afternoon and some very late at night. Find your optimum study time and allot that time for study every day, if possible. Leave errands and less important tasks for times when you are naturally less sharp.

12. Learn your most effective learning style by experimenting and then use it. Some people are more visual than auditory, more hands-on than cerebral, more solitary than group oriented or vice a versa. Some prefer absolute silence (invest in some earplugs) whereas some need music or some other background noise. Some prefer to learn the theoretical or abstract nature of things while others prefer the more factual or concrete nature of things. Some prefer orderly structure to their learning; others are more comfortable in a creative chaos. Your choice of major, courses and instructors needs, in part, to be based on these preferences. Maximize the use of your strengths while skill building to improve your weaknesses.

13. Learn to take good care of yourself. You are embarking on what amounts to a rigorous full-time job with minimal supervision of your performance or personal well-being. In addition to the basic tools of reading, writing and mathematical skill; your mind and body are essential to your successful performance. Balance into your busy schedule time for sleep, a good diet, some exercise, and relaxation and fun. This will be easier if you develop a routine for when and how much you need to sleep; when, where and what to eat; and when, where and what you do for exercise and fun. If your health starts to be compromised go to the Student Health Center. If you start to encounter personal problems or begin to feel anxious or depressed seek some assistance from the counseling available on campus.

End of content: footer below
University LogoSkip quick links
CSUF Contact Information Search Home: Link to CSUF Homepage
This page is maintained by the Cal State Fullerton department of Disability Support Services. Report problems to

California State University, Fullerton
©2003. All Rights Reserved.
This site may contain links to Web sites not administered by California State University, Fullerton, or one of its divisions, schools, departments, units or programs. California State University, Fullerton, is not responsible or liable for the accuracy or the content of linked pages.