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  Minority Opportunities in Research

Some Hints on Achieving Academic Success

Be clear of your academic/career goals. Get counsel from faculty and other professionals who know the coursework and academic performance requirements of the graduate school or professional program you are interested in pursuing after you graduate, and set plans as to how you will meet those requirements. Dream big, but set realistic goals as to how you will realize those dreams.

Work hard. The following likely sounds cliché, but it is true: You are ultimately responsible for the quality of education you get. Get a good one! Don't waste your time and don't let your professors waste your time. Your job is to get as much knowledge as you can from each class. You may get a good teacher, you may not. You may have to get a lot from a class in spite of your professor.

Take joy in what you do. You have chosen to study a rigorous academic major. Get into it! Make sure that you take an active part in the process of your education. Whether it is in the biological, physical, or behavioral sciences or mathematics, the major you have selected for study and its research base are more incredible than you have imagined. Through participation in research you have the opportunity to not only read about it, but more significantly, create and add to the body knowledge of your scientific discipline.

It is very important that you take nothing for granted, and are aware of University regulations which affect you. Be sure that you own a University Catalog for the year you entered. This is your contract with the University. Know University policies on dropping classes; on challenging courses by examination; on being eligible for an incomplete (I); on academic performance requirements for graduation, on academic renewal. Be aware of deadlines for dropping classes, to register for the writing proficiency exam (WPE). The point is, do not sacrifice your academic standing to inaction or lack of knowledge of regulations and deadlines. In a university environment, knowledge is assumed, what you don't know will likely hurt you.

Be mindful of course prerequisites. Put yourself in the best circumstances to succeed, and that is by taking courses in the appropriate sequence with the appropriate prerequisites. Don't put yourself at a competitive disadvantage by enrolling in courses for which you are not ready. The point is not for you to simply get through your courses as a set of requirements and hurdles. Courses are to prepare you with sufficient knowledge and analytical skills for your professional work. If you feel that you are ready for a course even though you have not completed all the course prerequisites, speak to the professor. If he/she agrees you may be allowed to enroll.

Connect with your academic department. Get to know your peers, professors, and staff. Its a lot easier to survive and flourish if you have connected to your academic department and to students who have similar goals. Form study groups, particularly in those tough courses. Become involved in student groups such as the various departmental student clubs, including, the Biology & Microbiology Club, the Chemistry & Biochemistry Club, the Psychology Honors Society, and others.

Take advantage of existing academic support mechanisms, including the Learning Resource Center, the John F. Kennedy Library (including on-line data retrieval services), and the career and personal counseling services. The Eagle Guide Student Handbook lists the various support mechanisms available to Cal State LA students. Make sure you have a recent copy of this handbook.

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