How do you drink and drive successfully

10 things you didn't learn in school but need to study successfully

by Tim Reichel

Out of school - into university.

That sounds like freedom to you, learn what you want, make nice new people and have a lot of fun. You're happy about escaping the tight corset of school and finally being able to only deal with things that really interest you. You can hardly wait to sit in large lecture halls, get to know your fellow students and professors and get a taste of real university air.

And this anticipation is absolutely justified.

But unfortunately I also have bad news for you: You are not well prepared for your time at university.

Actually, you are not prepared at all - you will be thrown into the deep end; into the shark tank. But you don't have to swim to the safe shore alone. I will help you: So that your dream of successful studies does not go prematurely, I will show you in this article what you need for a successful degree.

The following ten things you didn't learn at school - nobody taught you them. But they are essential to you.


Read the DOEDL method for free!


You don't learn these 10 things at school

You have to organize yourself very differently at university than at school. You are now on your own and you can neither rely on your parents sending you to the bus on time in the morning, nor on someone praying for you the material for the next exam. You have to grow up and manage yourself.

How you can do that, I'll show you now.


1. Set (and pursue) your own goals

At school, the curriculum dictates what you need to be able to do. Your teachers set the goals for you and tell you exactly what you need to do to get good grades. Good grades and a good average grade in high school are the main goals for students.

At university, your goals can be very different. As a student, you need a vision. A vision of who you want to be. You set your own goals based on your vision. These goals do not have to be all about good grades. They can also include your personal development, international experience or good networks - in short, everything you need to be able to achieve your main goal, your vision.

Think about who you want to become and set personal goals. Always remember to define sub-goals so that you don't overwhelm yourself right from the start. By the way, you don't only do this at the beginning of your studies. Your plan has to be checked and adjusted at regular intervals - ideally always at the start of the semester - and your sub-goals have to be redefined.


2. Make decisions

At school, others decide for you: parents, teachers, ministry, director, curriculum, learning progress surveys - at university it's a little different. Of course, there are also guidelines here, for example examination regulations for your degree program that everyone must adhere to, but you have more leeway for your own decisions.

In some courses there are modules that consist of different options. This means that you can choose your lecture or seminar yourself from a portfolio of offers. In addition, there are various specializations in many courses that enable you to become a specialist in a very specific area.

In the course of your studies you will repeatedly be confronted with decision-making options that challenge you. These branches are your chance - remember your vision and make a wise choice. It may well be the case that your main goal changes in the course of your studies because your interests change. That's not bad, but the nice thing about your newfound freedom!


3. Self-discipline

During your school days you get really pampered - so much that almost nothing can go wrong. Suddenly there is no one left during your studies to mimic your alarm clock and make your school sandwiches for you. Nobody pays attention to whether you are present in the lectures. There are hardly any formal obligations, no homework and usually not even your learning progress is monitored during the semester.

And that's exactly what encourages you to put your feet up in between and leave your studies behind. Being lazy in between can be pretty nice, but if you don't get your daily routine right, in the worst case scenario, you will lose touch and fail in the end.

The solution: You have to exercise a certain amount of self-discipline and not let yourself down. Make sure you have a regular daily routine, take care of an orderly everyday life and keep an eye on your studies. Go to your lectures and do short learning sessions during the semester so that you can catch up on the material in good time. Later on, it can make sense to take vacation or develop content at home and skip a lecture - but first you need an orderly structure.


4. Forego short-term successes

You are usually used to receiving constant feedback on your performance: regular classwork, small tests, homework and grades for oral work. None of this exists at university anymore. At least most.

Your professors don't care if you rework the material continuously; there are no tests in between and you won't get a half-year report. You have your exams at the end of the semester, during the lecture-free period, and at the very end of your studies you will receive a certificate stating your entire career.

For you this means: You have to think long-term and control yourself. When you study, you have to keep the big picture in mind. Do not think from exam to exam, but consider your studies as a large project that must be successful in the long term. Do not be satisfied with writing good grades in the short term, but focus on your personal development and the promotion of your methodical way of working. Then your studies will automatically pick up speed.


5. Take responsibility

Once you have started your studies, there are no more parents or teachers who take mutual responsibility for your performance. Everything you do or not do falls back on just one person: you.

No professor will call a parenting day and tell your parents that you did not study properly for his exam or that you did not attend the lecture. Nobody will offer to help you with the follow-up of the learning material without being asked. Now this is your beer - it is your risk and your chance alike.

So: make something of it! Take responsibility for your actions, think about your goals, work on yourself, set meaningful priorities and stand by your decisions. You will only go through your studies successfully and happily if you take responsibility for yourself.


6. Be your own boss

During your school days, several people see themselves as your bosses, be it your teachers or your parents. This influence will decrease significantly at the university because nobody has real access to you anymore - your parents are no longer within reach (or can not really have a say) and your professors do not want to and cannot play your boss at all.

So you have to take on this role. You are responsible for yourself and your company "studies". It's up to you when you get up, whether you go to college, when you start studying, how often you go to parties, and how much you drink there.

Be a good boss, motivate yourself, be responsible and have fun - always make sure that you do not jeopardize your studies, but advance it.


7. Split energy

School material is usually divided into nice, small bites and presented by the teacher in bite-sized format. The subject matter at the university has a completely different scope and you get input in a much shorter time - and that can cost a lot of energy.

Therefore, be careful with yourself and your energy reserves. Pick up the material, come up with a good organization system in which you can store your lecture and study documents, and work on everything piece by piece. Make a realistic schedule for this by determining when you will edit and learn which content. Don't wait until the last minute, because then you have no chance of proceeding according to a meaningful plan.

Think about how you want to proceed at an early stage and start working on your learning documents in such a way that you find time to balance and in the end do not drown in acute stress. Then you will not run out of breath so quickly and you will have enough energy to achieve your best possible performance.


8. Give yourself a break

The school gives you a break system. In addition, it usually ends around noon, so that you still have enough time for your hobbies in the late afternoon or evening. And during the holidays you go on vacation as a matter of course. The structure of the university quickly leads you to cram all day long, to find no end in the evening and to neglect your leisure activities.

Consciously find space for small or larger breaks in between. This can be the daily hour for you when you read, do sports, meet up with friends, cook or pursue other activities that are not related to your studies. Or, on a larger scale, the break between the exam phase and the next semester, during which you go on vacation or just do whatever you want at home without thinking about your studies.

Breaks from your studies are important and should be part of your planning. Treat yourself to it!


9. Plan for the long term

What is also taken from you at school is the planning. You go from grade to grade, from lower to middle to upper grades until you have finally reached your goal, the Abitur. Everything is planned in advance - you don't need to worry about anything.

Even at university there is a predefined goal, your degree. Unlike at school, however, it depends very much on you, in what time and with what standards you will achieve the goal of the degree. Therefore, plan your way in the long term. Get a curriculum vitae and adapt it to your own needs.

You can only study independently and successfully with the help of flexible and individual planning.


10. Forgive yourself

Mistakes are punished in school - with red pencil, point deductions and bad grades. And at home there are also a few serious words, depending on the case. In doing so, you will not be able to deal with your mistakes in a self-determined manner.

In the course of studies, wrong answers in examinations are of course punished and lead to a poorer assessment of the performance. But it is important that you learn to forgive yourself at the latest at university. Because everyone makes mistakes. They are a natural part of your learning process. In the end, the decisive difference is how you deal with them.

Don't be resentful to yourself, learn from your mistakes and do better the next time you try. Practice letting go and looking ahead.


Read the DOEDL method for free!



Regardless of whether you have been studying for a long time or are just starting your studies: You will not be taught the basics for a successful university career at school. You don't even get taught, you have to find out for yourself how studying works.

As a student, you are responsible for yourself. You decide where your path should go and how you want to shape it.

Plan your path, but allow change. Follow your goals, but give yourself space and breaks. Take responsibility, but forgive yourself for mistakes.

Only then will you become a real student. Then studying is fun and your time at university will be one of the most beautiful parts of your life.

PS: If you are looking for simple instructions, check out my book: This way please (click!).


Image: © JJ Thompson /