Whether you are entering college straight out of high school or have been away from an educational environment for a long time, starting a college program may be exciting but also very overwhelming. Furthermore, if you are starting a medical imaging program, such as a sonography or ultrasound tech program, a radiography or radiologic tech program, or another medical imaging degree, the didactic and clinical courses of study may be completely different from any of your previous educational experiences.
However, keep in mind that you were accepted into this program for a reason—the college’s selection committee or admissions department recognized that your previous performance and experiences show that they believe you are an ideal student for this program. Also cut yourself some slack! It takes time to adapt to any new scenario. As you progress through the first weeks and months of your program, you will become more comfortable with your coursework, find ways to seek the help you need and master a balanced schedule. Read on to learn how to succeed in college.
Tips for Students
Medical imaging programs are often intense and consist of full days of classroom and/or clinical work. Some of the material may be difficult to understand at first and may be in a completely different language (medical and technical) than you are used to. But with perseverance, taking the initiative to ask for advice or support and a willingness to adapt or modify your educational strategies, you will succeed.
• Ask questions. Visit your instructors/professors during their office hours or after class and ask them to clarify a topic you may not understand or to provide you with advice on how you might improve in a given area. If you get to know your professors, they can be a strong support during the rough patches of your academic life. Also do not be scared to ask questions during class and clinical times. Your fellow students will benefit from this as much as you will.
• “Don’t study in your room,” says college counselors Jeffrey Durso-Finley and Holly Burks Becker in The New York Times tip sheet “How to Succeed in College”. They recommend finding a regular spot that is well lit and free of distractions, such as an area in the college library.
• Form study groups with some of your classmates, whether you are a teen or a grandmother. You and your group members can help each other retain information and also provide moral support.
• Take the initiative to get involved on campus and in the community. If you’re able to find a club, a job-shadow or volunteer gig related to your medical imaging field, even better.
• Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Foster a balanced schedule by incorporating some social and extracurricular times into your life. Eat and sleep regularly and healthily. Also make sure to have some down time to relax.
Tips for Students Just Out of High School
• Resist the temptation to skip class. Starting college could be your first taste of freedom. There is no high school principal enforcing detention, and if you’ve moved out from the parents’ nest, they are not there to question why you are sleeping through morning lectures. But missing class, even if notes are posted online, could lead to missing some information and experiences that are crucial to your success.
• If you are living in residence, try to stay healthy. This means not partying every night and hardly sleeping or eating French fries from the cafeteria for every meal. A healthy body means a healthy mind. Don’t get us wrong. You should definitely have fun—it’s just about balance.
• Maintain your relationships from your previous life, like your parents or close friends. Starting college for the first time, and possibly living away from home for the first time, can have so many amazing moments. It can also be an emotional roller coaster. As you acclimatize to this new lifestyle, keeping in touch with your loved ones will help.
• Find out about services offered on campus and access them when you need them, whether it is academic or emotional counseling or math and writing support centers.
Tips for Mature Students
• If you are currently working, and plan on maintaining employment throughout your studies, talk to your boss about a flexible schedule.
• If you are a parent, build a support network for help with all of your parenting responsibilities. This may mean asking loved ones to help with childcare or to provide you with respite during exam time. You can even incorporate your studies with your children by completing homework together!
• Make sure to take some time just for you, without any work, home or school responsibilities. Easier said than done, we know, but it’s worth the effort. You don’t want to burn out.
• Find out about services on campus that cater to mature students, such as a mature students club or a technical skills support center (to help you adapt to technological advancements since last time you were in school).
• Do not think that the younger student crowd will not want to interact with you. Be yourself and realize age is just a number. Younger students will benefit from your experiences and will value the relationships they form with you.