Follow these 5 steps to success when you study for your college classes.

Good study habits are the foundation for success and are critical if you are to have a rewarding college experience when you study in the US (or anywhere else).

Even if you passed your college prep classes without cracking a book, college probably won’t be so simple. International students face the additional challenge of taking classes while adjusting to a new culture and language.

Follow these five steps, and you will be on your way to earning a superior GPA in the US or anywhere else you study.

1. Read the textbooks (and buy them if you can).

Your professor will give you a list of textbooks you will need to study. Read them.

It is tempting to believe you can study in the US using only the notes you have taken in class; however, a professor’s lecture doesn’t always cover everything in the assigned readings. If you are trying to save money, buy used textbooks at the bookstore or online. Also check if the books are available at the library.

You have at least one good reason to buy the textbooks: You can write in them. If you own the books, you can highlight important terms and take notes in the margins.

2. Attend Your Classes

It’s too cold. It’s too hot. It’s too early. You’re too tired. The excuses for not going to class are endless. But unless you are truly sick, don’t give in to these excuses.

Just as you can’t depend on classes alone, you also can’t depend on textbooks alone. The professor can review subjects the book didn’t cover, and then you won’t know what to study. In addition, some US professors take attendance and count that toward your class grade.

3. Take Notes

Now you are in a US classroom. What do you do? You take notes.

Have a notebook dedicated to each class, and keep your notes organized by date and topic. That will make studying later much easier. If your handwriting is sloppy, think about bringing a laptop to class. Highlight or circle topics that are important or that you have questions about.

4. Do the Assignments

In addition to being part of your final grade, assignments can point out things you didn’t know that you didn’t know. When that happens, visit your professor during office hours to discuss questions and problems and find out what you need to study.

Some US universities also have offices that can help you study or work on your assignments. For example, free tutors in the math department might help you study for the final exam, or volunteers in the English department might help you structure your essay.

5. Study

Even if you read your textbook, attend every class, take good notes and do your assignments, you must still review the coursework outside of class in order to successfully study in the US. Some tips to help you study for US tests:

  • Read your notes.
  • Re-read them!
  • Make flashcards.
  • Form a study group.
  • Review topics from the beginning of the semester — even if you aced your midterm exam.

Staying organized is important when you study in the US. Form good study habits from the start. Attend your classes and carve out time to do your homework and studying. You not only have freedom when you study in the US, but also the responsibility to make your educational experience a success.