How To Excel in College Science Courses

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It might be that you've proven yourself to be a whiz at science and you want to up your knowledge a notch. Or, it could be that you're not really that into the subject, but you just can't afford to flunk another science test--you wouldn't want that varsity scholarship to go down the drain. Whatever the case may be, here are some ways to excel in your college's science courses:

Create an Outline.  Science is a broad topic, to say the least. Determine for yourself what branch of science or specific area of study you would like to tackle first. For example, you may opt to focus on physics, and from there further zero in on what particular subjects under physics you would like to or need to study. It is good to create an outline for this. From here it'd be more manageable for you to work out your goal to excel in collegiate science.

Search the Net.  Thank goodness for the Internet--you have access to thousands of science articles and even interactive websites that would most likely give you as much information as you could possibly need. Now here is where your outline (see tip #1) would come in handy. Use your outline to keep you from wandering too much from just what you need to know.

Another important thing to note is that you'd need to use common sense and sound judgment while searching the net. Remember, with so much information available you have to discern which sources are factual and updated.

  • Check the source and its affiliations. For example, is the website authored by a person you know (or at least have heard) to be a leading expert on the topic? If you're not sure, then you could check the "About the Author" link that is usually available somewhere on the same web page. Check out the credentials, and see if his or her professional experience is directly related to the topic he/she wrote about. It's also good if that author is affiliated with educational institutions you're familiar with. If the credentials aren't listed, but the name is provided, then you could opt to google the name. Find out who is hosting the website. You could do this by looking at the URL (the website address); for example if the first part states, then you'd know that site is hosted by Harvard University, which you can safely assume to be reliable.
  • Begin at a reliable website. One suggestion is to begin at one reliable source, search within that website and then follow the links posted there.
  • Check for consistency. You may also check the credibility of information by cross-referencing it with other sources. This simply means that, if the data from different websites are consistent, then most likely that data is reliable.
  • Carefully examine what the website's purpose could be. Look at the writing style. Is the website written in a way that it persuades you to buy something? Does it persuade you to take on a particular point of view? Just use your sound judgment; see if the article is not simply offering information objectively but has more subjective goals. If this is so, then perhaps it's not entirely reliable at all.
  • Consider other factors. This includes the timeliness of the article (when was it first published? has it been updated recently?), the layout and design (does it look professional?), the links the author cites (are they reliable?). If anything looks dodgy to you, then by all means look for other sources. As we have mentioned, there's an abundance of it available.

Join science groups/clubs/organizations. If you're a student, there are certainly many of these organizations you have access to. Joining would keep you updated about latest developments regarding the field you're interested in studying, give you a clear standard of knowledgeability to aim for (presuming the other members are also aiming to excel in the field), and a network of contacts that have the same interest as you do.

Subscribe to science magazines and newsletters. Before subscribing, you may browse the magazines at your school or the local library, and see for yourself which ones appeal to you based on your need and interest.  You may also ask your librarian for ones he/she recommends.

Ask advice from mentors. If you're a student, you may approach your science teacher/professor for lists of sources you could read, organizations you could join or seminars you could attend to further your science knowledge. If it's possible, perhaps you could offer to be your teacher's assistant for, say, a month or even a semester. This would enable you to acquire knowledge in a very practical manner, could be a boost to your resume, plus, could improve your grade a notch or so as well.

There you have it! It all starts with having the desire to excel. Good luck and happy learning!


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