College Survival Guide/Print version

Is going to college worth my time

Is it really?

College is what you make of it

College is what you make of it. Should you apply yourself, you may find yourself in a position to network with potential future leaders, work under esteemed researchers, and broaden your horizons in other ways. Yet college can also be a waste of time and money for those who do not take it seriously or those burdened by other commitments, leaving the student unsatisfied and possibly destitute. The decision to go to college is not one to make lightly.

Many members of society hold college educated people in high regard. A degree is not the only way to prove your skills to an employer, but it certainly helps. A broader understanding of the world around you can prepare you as a quality citizen who can make informed decisions. That said, there are many avenues for gaining knowledge and someone who can competently self study can go far. Resources provided by your local library, trade schools, and other resources allow for quality non-college education for adults.

Building a Background

Colleges have a number of resources that help build a background. Most have career centers, workshops, and other skill building resources. Better still, sometimes these include certificates or other resume builders that you can use to more easily prove your skills to others.

However resources not used are worthless to you. Some college students fail to take advantage of these resources, and find themselves book smart but unable to apply what they learned in practice immediately after graduation. Furthermore certifications do not always equate to real skill. While someone without certifications is subject to greater scrutiny during the hiring process, in many cases this can be overlooked if the applicant can prove themselves skilled in other ways. This often involves getting to know someone on the inside to bypass HR screening, which often excludes those without a degree.

It is important to note that some professions nearly universally exclude those without proper accreditation. This including Doctors, Engineers, and Lawyers among a few other positions that almost always require a degree from an accredited institution. At the same time, some careers have alternate paths to certification - Police Academies are one such example. When the price of failure is high, hiring a non credentialed worker is simply a risk most organizations can not take.

The Internet

Many people wish to destroy this institution conflict by destroying the institutions. However, some people believe the best way to do that is through espionage or becoming one of the collective. You've got various things that have changed since the 1700s. Most of all, you have the Internet. Yet the Internet has many people who were college educated. It is these people who are guiding others to knowledge. As time goes on, the amount of accurate information will present itself to people; and the possibility of a truly free education may become a reality. However, experience is the thing that colleges offer that the Internet does not. Unless a person does experiments, keeps logs, and gets certification through exams and testing, proving you've got experience is a very difficult task.


Interestingly, however, is that experience can be gained in many different ways:

The Artist

Some people say artists ought learn in college. College gives an artist a knowledge background as to methods, materials, art history, aesthetics, and other aspects of art. Some people would call this a 'formal' education in art. However, some artists don't need to go to college. These people are artists. They create art, and their ability to create art comes from talent and so forth. Whether or not these people are considered artists is up to aesthetics and debate, but a person doesn't need a college degree to be considered an artist. Artists draw, paint, sculpt, and do many other things with resources and mediums. Some artists graduate college and don't find a job right away. In other words, the ability to create art is more about experience, less about formal knowledge. Although, formal knowledge allows the artist to understand techniques, but such things can be learned out of various art books.

Artists show experience through a portfolio. However, the artist may want to take into consideration a type of formal education. This formal education may come from a freelance art teacher or through various art books.

The Scientist

On the other end of a spectrum you've got the scientist. This is the kind of person that finds graduating from college a necessity. The reason college is a necessity for this kind of person is for various reasons. One would be ethics, which discuss how science is to act in the future according to society. Another is a formal education in lab work, which often a group of persons doing experimentation. In whole, the scientist often goes to college in order to receive a formal education and work with a group of persons toward a common goal.

'Yes' and 'No' Summary

Yes and no. This all depends on a few factors. One of the factors is what you want to accomplish in the long run.

Want to be a computer scientist/mathematician/physicist/linguist/translator?

Go to college and make the best grades you can.

Want to be a biologist/chemist?

Go to college, because ethical concerns exist when employing people without proper training.

Want to be a scientist/doctor/neuroscientist?

Same as above.

Want to be an artist/actor?

You probably don't need to go. Most artists only need a portfolio to prove to others they are the cream of the crop. Colleges and universities don't really help these type of people. Many artists from earlier days rejected the schools and became famous. Salvador Dali was an artist who saw himself better than the teachers and later worked with Picasso.

Want to be a graphic designer/businessperson?

You need training. Who is going to hire an interior decorator with no experience? The easiest place to get experience is college. And to get a job in the business world, unless you want to stay in an entry-level position, a degree is required.

In all reality, if someone holds a four-year-degree, he or she should be able to find a job somewhere. So college is your best bet for job security!

Recommended Reading

Bird, Caroline: The Case Against College (1972)

Preparing for College

Knowing how college works ahead of time will greatly improve your chance of success. By understanding life in college, you can prepare yourself for it.

What is College like?

College is an a world onto its own. Without a family member or close friend to guide you through to college, it is easy to become lost, and if they graduated long ago they likely are not familiar with the changing landscape of academia spurred by advancing technology. The choices to make, actions to take, and the many habits one must break are often not known. College is place for those who want a higher education or who want to gain employment in a certain profession.

Social factors

Social life in college often revolves around small communities, such as those sharing a residence hall, or those involved in a school club. It is vital to keep social while in college, because failing to do so often leads to anti social behavior and other negative outcomes for one's post college career. Furthermore socializing is a chance to network with peers, as well as to distinguish yourself by getting involved in extracurricular activities.

The professor is an often misunderstood position for incoming students. Most do not teach as those in High Schools do, they instruct and optionally may guide you through your education. Your education in college is not the sole responsibility of the Professor - it mostly falls on you yourself. Professors are often not trained as teachers, most have dedicated their lives to a field, and have either mastered it, or potentially even expanded it and pushed human knowledge that much further. Many professors participate in research outside of teaching, and often consider that their primary duty. It is important to remember that professors are still humans. They are not perfect, and each has their own individual quirks and foibles, some more than others.


Dining on a college campus is truly specific to the individual institution. Some institutions offer good food, or at least only slightly overcharge for their food. The worst institutions will gouge prices while serving questionably edible slop. Some institutions will cater to certain dietary requirements, and others simply offer what they offer. Ask an upperclassman what they think of the food at an institution to get an idea of what it's like at that specific institution.

One reason to join or simply pop into many clubs is that they will sponsor free meals and diners multiple times a semester. This is especially true with cultural clubs, who will often showcase the unique cuisine of their culture. Often nerdy clubs like gaming and computing societies will offer pizza and junk food.

Dining on campus is not the only option, and if it is not up to par with your expectations should be used minimally, such as in between classes when you have no time for anything else. Often a variety of restaurants and bars are established immediately off campus. These too range in qualities, but the longest lasting tend to be of good quality, offer unique items, or are locally beloved for some other reason.

By far the most economical way to eat while at college is to do what the majority of society does - go grocery shopping and make a meal yourself. This not only lets you make exactly what you want, how you want it, it also lets you save money by buying in bulk, as well as teaching yourself valuable cooking skills. The biggest downside is the time and effort required, as cooking some dishes can be an intensive process.

Malnutrition at colleges is a serious and unfortunately common issue. Many scientific and sociological studies conclude that college students aren't eating properly. Sometimes students purchase a meal plan that doesn't meet their needs. Other times they simply can't afford what they need. Often healthy food is inaccessible, or costs significantly more than unhealthy food. Many incoming students get into a habit of only eating ramen, pizza, or some other inexpensive meal, only to become sick of an unhealthy diet a few months later. Sometimes programs are available to help the food insecure - do not be too proud to take advantage of these when faced with malnutrition. After all, a malnourished brain will have a much learning and recalling information.

Choosing a School

Choosing a School on Size

Small Schools

These schools are often rural or private schools. They may not have all the amenities of a large institution, but they do typically have tight knit communities, where you will come to be known by others easily if you distinguish yourself.

Medium School

Often a smaller state university, regional college, or a larger private school, often in a suburb, rural city, or college town. These schools are often large enough to let you be unnoticed by most, but large enough to allow you to easily distinguish yourself. They typically offer most amenities a larger school would, but at a smaller scale. Most will have a few subjects they excel in, with other major subjects that are fairly average or not offered. It is rare for a medium size school to have more than one or two significant regional campuses. If offered at all, it is rare for them to offer more than one of a college of Law, a college of Medicine, or a college of Engineering, though they often offer programs that prepare students for graduate school at a different institution in these fields.

Large School

Often a flagship state university in an urban metro area or a prestigious private school. Even if it's based in a college town (Such as Ithaca, New York or Lawrence, Kansas) the shear size and importance of the school will necessitate many city like amenities. This gives students access to all the amenities of a city - museums, theaters, a huge variety of restaurants, public transit, etc. Of course this also gives students all the downsides of city life too. Such universities often include a college of law, college of medicine, or college of engineering.

The Entrance Exam

The exams usually focus on your Literature and Science skills. Some tests focus on your English and Math skills. Some tests focus on foreign language skills. Either way, a person will take an entrance exam test. What a person should do is before taking the exam, learn as much as he or she can about it. Some colleges only allow a person to take the exam twice. This is why learning about the test is important. Study and review some of the math you already know for about five days.

After taking the exam, if a person doesn't do as well as he or she hoped the first time, then he or she could try again, though this can quickly get expensive. Students who have a high level of math understanding will often be placed down to a lesser math level. Even though the student may know the math, the exam scores may say a person must take "Intermediate Algebra and Geometry".

Some people will try to study the course material by getting a few books, studying them, and retesting. Try to learn everything in the course book in 16 days. After 16 days, take the test and try to test out. If you can't, just take the course. Although, many people despise this exam system, is better to take the course and get over with it than wasting three months studying the book, taking the test, and again, not passing. Summer courses often last about one month, and if a person already knows the material, and he or she really does know the material, he or she should be able to pass the course easily. It's better to take a course and be over with it than to try and beat the system. Remember, 16 days of full devotion.

Picking your Major and Minor

What is a major?

A major is the type of career you want to obtain. You are largely focusing on certain types of courses so you can get that career. The majority of courses in your course schedule are going to help you get that career.

What is a minor?

A minor is a subject that you pick in addition to your major, and has significantly lower requirements to obtain. If you find out years later you don't like your major, you could switch to your minor. A minor is the type of career you want to fall back on. You are slightly focusing on certain types of courses as a fall-back career. The minority of courses in your course schedule will lead you towards that fall-back career.

Talking to a Counselor

When talking to a counselor, a person needs to know his or her long-term and short-term goals.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • 1. What do I want for a career?
  • 2. How much do I really know about the career?
  • 3. Have I researched the career in depth?
  • 4. What type of things does a person in that career field know?
Psychology? Sociology? Chemistry? Physics? Biology? Other?
  • 5. What courses do I need to take to get that career?

Number five becomes the most important question once you understand what type of career you want. This will be one of the questions you will focus on when talking to a counselor. Write the question down to ask later.

More questions to ask:

  • 6. Do the courses I take here for that career—transfer to a different school?
  • 7. What school do I want to transfer to?
  • 8. What courses transfer to that school?

Oftentimes, counselors are very busy with many other people and can't go the extra mile for everyone. They try their best, but often they don't have the answers. Supplement counselors with your won research.

Before going to a counselor, a person should study what courses transfer to a college or university. Make a call to the school, go visit the school, or locate the school's website on the Internet and inquire what courses transfer. Many universities and college have a website directory that tells what courses are similar to others. If you are completely clueless to the school's website, you could go to the counselor and ask for them to help you find the information on the website.

The main concept to keep here is this:

I want a certain career. I need to take certain types of courses to get that career. If my current school does not have all of those courses, but they have a few, what courses transfer to another school? How can I be assured these courses transfer? I need proof these courses transfer.

  • 9. How many courses can I transfer.

This can be tricky and annoying depending on institution policies.

Choosing Transferable Courses

When transferring to a different college or university, many students notice a large amount of credits/hours do not transfer.

Why is this?

Also, the teaching curriculum and standards of one school may be different than another school. In other words, the learning material in a different school may be more rigorous, complex, detailed, in depth, or etc. Furthermore, some schools, especially for profit institutions, may have a financial incentive for these requirements.

Talk with one college's counselor, and get that counselor to talk about courses being transferable or not. You want courses that can transfer from one college to the next. Sometimes you will have to call someone, write to someone, or meet with someone at a different college to obtain information about credits/hours that are accepted.

Making a Wise Choice

For many careers, taking English and Mathematics to a certain extent is required. Often, if a person is going to a local college, then he or she can take Mathematics and English courses for a lower price. The first two years of college for many are filled with taking courses that don't relate to their major. The wise who want to transfer to a different college may not take those unrelated courses right away.

Some Liberal Arts (Non-fiction writing 120, Shakespeare 101, etc.) courses do not transfer as well as Mathematics and Foreign language. Many universities require someone to have at least four years of foreign language from a high school. If not that, they require someone to have at least two years of foreign language from a college. Many also like the idea of students having four years of high school Mathematics. To have four years of mathematics would mean someone has taken Calculus before he or she graduates high school.

  • 1 college semester = 1 high school year
  • 4 years H.S. = 2 years college.
College goes twice as fast as regular high school.


One of the things I've learned in college is that a few courses exist that have a better chance than others to transfer. Taking math and language courses are the best choice for an undergraduate.

Modern Language:

  • Spanish
  • German
  • French
In the United States, Spanish is the most common language for college transfer.


  • Calculus and above

If a college were to be shrewd and not accept these courses, a person could simply test out; the nice thing about choosing this type of courses is its ease to be quickly reviewed to pass a test. The test usually will quiz someone on his or her current knowledge of the class material.

As long as someone takes a modern language and mathematics, it is likely the courses will transfer to a public university. If not, then someone could most likely test out.

Testing for College Credit

This part of the book is directed more toward United States students. However, there may be tests in which other students of different regions may take.

Make sure the credits you obtain are accepted by the institution you plan on going to before you acquire them.

  • Some High School courses, such as AP classes, allow you to gain college credit.
  • Some tests like the CLEP let you test out of classes.
  • Some Colleges offer classes can be taken while in high school at subsidized rates.
  • Some online course platforms offer college credit through an accredited partner institution. One such platform is edX, which was founded by Harvard and MIT.[1] Be wary of fraudulent programs and degree mills while looking online. Always check accreditation.

External Links


  1. "About Us". edX. Retrieved 19 December 2020.

Improving Writing Skills


Some people ignored English while growing up; some people were not taught correctly; and others had different obstacles. A student will not last long in college if he or she does not effectively use the English language.

This guide is meant to help improve your English language skills in relation to a collegiate setting. This guide does not seek to make you a great writer, and there are other Wikibooks that cover writing more in depth.

You will have to grow accustomed to writing multi page papers properly and efficiently. You should also be able to quickly proofread and revise your work to minimize grammatical and spelling errors. The grading of a paper depends on many factors: course level, course, paper requirements, etc. As someone aspiring to be a professional or a scholar, you will need to write like a professional or a scholar.

Some people might think this is too much trouble. However, if you don't learn it, you'll be in trouble.

Preparing yourself

The best way to master reading and writing is to read and write. Below are some exercises you can try to improve your skills.

  • Check out books from your local library and read one every few days. Summarize your thoughts on each book in a diary.
  • Attend a writing workshop.
  • Expand articles on wikis. Cite your sources when doing so.
  • Write letters to the editor, online reviews for products, and other short form writing.
  • Read manuals of style. Ask yourself why some writing styles are different than others.
  • Review things you wrote in the past. Are you happy with them? If so, what did you like? If not, how would you rewrite it?
  • An easy way to practice is writing in a journal. As a person continues to write his or her thoughts in a journal, he or she will come across spelling and grammar errors and be able to correct them. Good writing comes with consistent proofreading and revision.

Good writing is not something that is achieved overnight. Keep at it, and you will improve.

Writing in General


Make one sentence link to the next. Afterwards, you could use transitions to go from that sentence to this sentence. However, this sentence may not be as apparent as the last sentence. Of course, one could make an argument about that statement... Do you notice the coherence? That's why you need to start practicing coherence before you write a college paper.


Put simply, Rhetoric is a technique used to influence the reader. This is critical when writing at a college level, as you will often have to make points and take sides when authoring a paper. People may perceive the writer to be an intelligent writer because of his or her ability to create stylish prose. The trick is to make the prose seem logical and reasonable.

By analyzing style, seeing how it is used, and applying its concepts, a student can vastly improve their writing. By using rhetorical figures in different situations, and throwing them around like spices in a dish, you will be working toward that perfect meal that earns 5 stars on presentation and taste. You ever hear about a person analyzing a text? You ever wonder how that is done correctly? Well, it takes some practice, but understanding rhetoric is a good start, mainly because rhetoric is about understanding terminology and applying it.

Here's an exercise as an example. Grab a newspaper and identity rhetoric techniques in it. Choose Newsweek, Times, USA Today, or some other popular publication. Your job is to identity the parts of style. Afterwards, you job is to write a paper, restate the thesis, and change the usage of rhetorical figures. Do not make it look the same; make it look different, but say the same thing using rhetoric.

The idea is to analyze the content, style, and the form it takes. Afterwards, reword the content, and reshape the form of style. By doing this, you will gain practice and experience in rhetoric. Also, if you type up blogs or journal entries, implement rhetoric into each entry you make.


Proofreading is the a key step of polishing a paper. Never turn in a college paper without proofreading it. And after you do that, do it again. Ask a friend to read through your paper after that - An extra set of eyes can make all the difference.

Many people speak out loud while proofreading their paper - This is highly suggested. Another technique is to use a text to speech program. By using such a program a person can listen to the text version of the paper spoken aloud, and find mistakes in the paper when a word is spoken incorrectly. There are AI based assistants in some word processors that can also aid proofreading.


Grammar is an essential part to writing a paper. Sometimes, a person must relearn grammar and practice his or her English skills. An affordable way to do this is to go to a local library and pick up grammar books and grammar exercise books. If your local library doesn't suit you or have the materials, you could go to a college library. An interesting thing about a college library is that you usually don't need to be a student to actually walk around and read the books; a college library, sometimes, offers more books than a local library. In this situation, you would walk through the library, find the book catalogue, grab some grammar books, and sit down somewhere to read them.

Practicing grammar by yourself is hard. How does someone know if they are using correct grammar? In this situation, one of the best things to do is consult a grammar book. There are also forums online for people who are learning English. These forums often provide people who are helpful toward those learning ESL and refreshing their English skills.

Whenever you write something, type something, or say something, check to see if you're using proper grammar. Grab a style usage and grammar book. Think about how you presented things. Were they correct?

Types of Papers

Thesis Paper

Paragraph One

What kind of bullets are you putting in your gun?

When you create a first paragraph, you have to notice that each sentence is a bullet. However, it's a certain type of bullet. Each bullet has its own property and effect on the individual you shoot it at. Nonetheless, the bullet is going to whiz through your paper and have an affect on the reader. If you've ever seen Outlaw Star, you understand that each bullet Gene Starwind has will have a different property. Some bullets are more unique than others, yet they all have a purpose. You have to notice that each sentence in the first paragraph has a purpose. The thesis sentence could be seen as the gun that you load all the bullets into. This thesis sentence is typically the last sentence of the first paragraph. Imagine that each previous sentence is a bullet being loaded into the thesis chamber. The thesis sentence is the most important sentence in the paper. It is the controlling sentence that allows you to shoot the bullets. Otherwise, you might as well throw the bullets at your reader, and that won't do you any good.

Each time you type a sentence into your first paragraph, imagine that you're loading the chamber. Each bullet needs to slide into the chamber with relative ease. Imagine what each sentence sounds like as it's slided into the thesis. The words and thoughts need to connect to each other. Otherwise, when you shoot the gun, it might become jammed. The gun wouldn't be of any use to you.


  • How are you going to shoot your gun?

When you shoot each sentence, it begins to have its own environment. Each environment takes shape, reason, and adjusts to its surroundings. In a way, a bullet in the first paragraph is shot and creates a paragraph environment of its own. This bullet creates a world of physics, details, examples, and facts. However, as the bullet begins to make contact, the environment is aware, impacted, and changes because of the bullet's presence. You want each word, sentence, and thought to ricochet inside the person's mind. Each thought in the paper bounces around in the reader. However, it all has to make sense. It all has to be rational. It all has to have a motive, a reason to be there.

  • What are you talking about?
  • What are these things connected to?
  • Why should I care about what you're saying?
  • Why are you talking about this?

You have to address a thought. These thoughts need something to connect to. These thoughts would be connected to the thesis. Of course the bullets came from the thesis. However, if the bullets don't come from the gun, the reader is going to think God is flicking pieces of rock at him or her at amazing speeds. The person being shot at can't make any sense of what's going on. They'll question why they are in this environment, and they'll want to get out of this odd and absurd predicament. However, if you can show that the sentences are bullet, they come from the thesis chamber, then the person being shot at can understand what's going on. You have a motive, and that motive gives cause to the chamber and bullets. Although this might seem a bit macrabe, it serves a good example.

Argumentative Research Paper

"It's not what you know, it's what you can prove." - Alonzo from Training Day.

Argumentation become a common aspect of post-secondary education, yet so many people don't understand it. There are many reasons why people don't understand it, but perhaps the best reason is because it is philosophically rooted. Many people believe philosophy can be hard to grasp without correct guidance. It can often be the failure of those who teach argumentation to teach its history and philosophical side. In this sense, understanding who created argumentation, what they intended it to be, and how it works will allow someone to better understand argumentation.

You say you know something, but can you really say it? I'm not so sure until you can prove it.

History of Argumentation

Argumentation is deeply rooted in philosophy, and yet it has adapted to be part of communication, and those who study communication adapted argumentation to their field. Argumentation has a large history preceding Aristotle.

Argumentation Theory, as many people call it, had a large amount to do with formal logic. Aristotle was one of many people to contribute to argumentation with the ideas of logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos would be the logical side of the argument; ethos would be the ethics, character, or type of person the arguer present him- or herself to be; and pathos would be the emotional, yet relevant, side of the argument.

Aristotle was also responsible for bringing out the idea of "enthymeme": An argument with one conclusion, one premise, and one unstated premise.

A person must keep in mind that Aristotle is who most persons refer to when they are studying argumentation. Throughout the history of argumentation, people such as Scholars have used Aristotle's reasoning in hopes to become better arguers.

Why should people argue?

Although a person can remain skeptical of Truth, justice, and the ways people should go about things, these are the things that are often argued. Yet some people might take an egoist view of argumentation along with a pragmatic view. If a person thinks, "This doesn't effect me, so why should I care?" Ah, but decisions might affect you. The idea is that the history of a person allowed him or her to arrive at a point in time. This history has so far allowed the person to live and read these words. It is this history that enables a person to argue.

However, were the person a skeptic, then he or she might say, "I'm skeptical about the things you say, the conclusions you reach, and the reasons you use. A person cannot know anything until he or she is that thing. Therefore, I'm not going to argue." Yet the irony is that for a person to be a skeptic, he or she must give reasons for being skeptical. Along with these reasons comes out the conclusion, "Therefore, I'm not going to argue." The skeptic has just argued.

In both of these scenarios, it is shown that argumentation is required in many cases. Argumentation allows a person to fight for his or her own views. That does not necessarily mean he or she is wrong, but it means simply that the person is arguing with others and presenting views. These views must be supported with reasons (premises) and at least a conclusion. As a person understands argumentation more and more, he or she will begin to notice argumentation in many places.

To bring us back to an argument already present:

  • Reason 1: This doesn't affect me.
  • Reason 2: Things that don't affect me do not matter in my life. (Unstated assumption.)
  • Conclusion: Therefore, I don't care.

One way to attack an argument is to attack one of its stated reasons (also called premises), which in this case would be reason 1. I have stated that things do affect you. Things in this physical world are dependent on something else. Nothing is independent in this universe. Therefore, you are affected by something one way or another.

  • Premise 1: Things in this physical world are dependent on other things.
  • Premise 2: Nothing is independent in this universe.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, you are affected by something in one way or another.

If you can somehow prove to me that you are independent of this universe, then maybe I'll accept your conclusion. Of course, I'll need evidence of this.

What are you proving?

  • What am I trying to prove and how am I trying to prove it?

Pick a weapon:

  1. Formal Logic
  2. Informal Logic

If you're taking a philosophy course, you will probably be doing formal logic. If you're taking an English course, you will probably be doing informal logic. Yet even choosing your weapon for arguing depends on an audience. Some audiences in pure reason and logic will accept formal logic. However, this ideal audience rarely, if ever, exists. Such an audience that accepts formal logic might be one person who studies it in depth or an audience of logicians and philosophers. The point of this is that your audience will be the ones to either accept or dismiss your argument.

The Technical side of Argumentation

  1. Premise
  2. Warrant
  3. Conclusion (Claim)
  4. Enthymeme
  5. Evidence (Grounds)
  6. Backing (Backup evidence)
  7. Rebuttal
  • An argument must include one premise and one conclusion.

A premise (reason) is used to reach a conclusion (claim).

Words to remember:

  1. Premise (reason)
  2. Conclusion (claim)

An argument with one premise and one conclusion is called an enthymeme. An enthymeme is an "incomplete argument" that is missing one premise. This one premise, called an unstated assumption, is unprovided by the arguer.

  • Person 1: You're car is broke (conclusion) because someone blew up its engine (premise).

In formal writing, people often place the conclusion and premise(s) next to each other. However, some implied arguments do not make the conclusion and premises so obvious.

  • Person 2 thinks, "I guess so. A blown up engine cannot process gas or other things required for it to run." (unstated assumption)

The unstated assumption (also known as "warrant") is provided by the audience, in this case Person 2. In other words, the audience assumes a premise and fills in the gap for the enthymeme; the audience mentally provides another premise without the arguer providing it.

  • Arguer: Hitting people is wrong.
  • Random person walking by: Why do you think that?
  • Arguer: Hurting people causes suffering. (Major Premise / Major Reason).
  • Random person: I agree.

If you haven't figured it out yet: If someone doesn't offer you premises and only a conclusion, it's difficult to argue with him or her. As you start to learn argumentation more, you might see people only stating conclusions and giving no reasons. If you would like to start an argument with someone, you simply need to ask, "Why do you think that?" From there, you can draw out a person's reasons and argue against or for them.

But the question is, Why do these people agree?

  1. Enthymeme (Argument with unstated assumption not included)
  2. Big Thesis (Claim or Conclusion)
  3. Small Theses (Premises / Reasons)
  • Major Premise
  • Minor Premise
  1. Evidence (or Grounds)

Argumentation in Media

In the movie Training Day, the protagonist encounters the antagonist, Alonzo, played by Danzel Washington. Alonzo is a cop gone bad, and the protagonist needs a way to prove it. Although the protagonist knows very well that Alonzo is a bad cop involved with drugs and crime, there is little evidence to support the protagonist's claim (also called a conclusion). Eventually the protagonist meets Alonzo at his apartment and finds Alonzo preparing money to give to a Russian gangster that Alonzo angered. Alonzo needs to pay a "debt of respect," which in this case is a large sum of money, to the Russian gangster. The protagonist encounters Alonzo and they both go through a dialogue about the protagonist not being able to prove that Alonzo is a bad cop. Alonzo than recites the line, "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove." The protagonist sees the large bag of money and Alonzo notices that the protagonist is going to use the bag of money as evidence to support that claim that Alonzo is a bad cop. Eventually after Alonzo and the protagonist get into a long and dangerous fight, the protagonist obtains the bag of money and says that it will be used as evidence. The bag, of course, would have Alonzo's fingerprints and could be tested by forensics.

The movie Training Day includes many things that revolve around argumentation and is a recommended watch. If you've seen it already, you may want to watch it again.

Possible Argument:

  • Claim: Alonzo is a corrupt cop.
  • Reason 1: He is involved with drugs and crime.
  • Reason 2: He has people killed.
  • Reason 3: He searches houses without a warrant.
  • Reason 4: Bad cops don't do these things. (unstated assumption)

More Reading

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

If you read this whole 1500+ page book, you'll understand more about grammar than most people understand; you'll probably understand more about grammar than most professors. It's expensive, costing around $100 USD, but you may be able to get it through your local library.

Suggested Readings and other Media

This section is broken into two parts:

  1. Books that a person ought to read with explanation and/or details.
  2. A list of books and other media.

If there is an earlier version of the book, you might be able to use that version instead. Sometimes older versions are better than newer versions. If you can't buy a book, you might be able to loan it from another library through something called interlibrary loan. Ask your librarian about interlibrary loan or borrowing books from another library.

All of these have been listed because they are very relevant to the study of argumentation. Of those that should be studied first are listed:

1. Fundamentals of argumentation theory: a handbook of historical backgrounds and contemporary developments

This part of argumentation has been neglected in post-secondary education. However, it will give you a brief introduction to what this topic is all about. I really suggest you read this first. Plus you'll love the cover of the book. You might be able to view that on google images.

2. A Rulebook for Arguments

This short book is somewhat of a quick intro/reference guide. If you've read the previous book, you'll be able to understand what's discussed in this book. The book is very systematic and allows a person to flip from section to section. I'd have to say the author perceived the writer's needs when he created it long ago.

3. Argumentation analysis, evaluation, presentation

This is more of a scholarly book that gives a decently detailed view at argumentation. It includes exercises which a person should do, type out, and practice with.

4. Fallacies: Classical and Contemporary Readings

If you have one or more fallacies in your argument, educated people are going to criticize and frown upon your argument. Your grade will probably get knocked down, too. A lot of books discuss fallacies, but sometimes the way they describe them is not very detailed. This book helps give a detailed view toward fallacies.

5. Writing argumentative essays

This is another media that helps a person focus on writing argumentative papers.

6. Ethical Argumentation

A lot of ethical concerns exist when people are going further into the future. This book will allow you to understand ethics and values when stepping into the realm of argumentation.

7. An exploratory study of junior college students' response to teacher feedback in argumentative essays.

It's always neat to get the view of a professor using students as guinea pigs. Although the previous book and other books might help help you scrutinize such a person, this research will help you get a better grasp to what's expected of you as a student.

8. In defense of informal logic

Some people think argumentation is stupid because it has little formal logic and many people argue with emotions and values. This book was created to help defend against views like that.

Another possible book to look into would be Argumentation and Critical Decision Making by Rieke and others.


  • A Rulebook for Arguments (By Weston) (Year 2000)
  • A Systematic Theory of Argumentation: The Pragma-dialectical Approach (By Eemeren and Grootendorst) (Year 2004)
  • Argumentation analysis, evaluation, presentation (By Eemeren, Grootendorst, and Snoeck-Henkemans) (Year 2002)
  • Argumentation, communication, and fallacies: A pragma-dialectical perspective (By Eemeren and Grootendorst) (Year 1992)
  • Ethical Argumentation (By Walton) (Year 2003)
  • Fallacies: Classical and Contemporary Readings (By Hansen and Pinto) (Year 1995)
  • Fundamentals of argumentation theory: a handbook of historical backgrounds and contemporary developments (By Eemeren, Grootendorst, and Snoeck)
  • In defense of informal logic (By Levi) (Year 2000)
  • Rhetorical argumentation in biblical texts: Essays from the Lund 2000 conference (By Eriksson and Olbricht) (Year 2002)
  • Teachers' perceptions of coherence in student argumentative essays at the department of Basic English of Middle East Technical University (By Feyza Konyali) (Year 2003)
  • Warranting assent: Case studies in argument evaluation (By Edward Schiappa) (Year 1995)
  • Writing argumentative essays (By Nancy V. Wood) (Year 2001)


  • An exploratory study of junior college students' response to teacher feedback in argumentative essays. (By Dorothy Cheng Suan) (Year 2000)
  • Argumentative essays written by native speakers of Chinese and English: a study in contrastive rhetoric (By Cheryl Ann Eason) (Year 1995)
  • Rhetorical/cognitive strategies evidenced in information and argumentative essays of high school and college undergraduate students: a descriptive study (By Deborah Apy Odell) (Year 1986)
  • The impact of scaffolding via online asynchronous discussions on students' thinking skills in writing argumentative essays (By Yuen Choo Koh) (Year 2004)


  • Critiquing the argumentative essay (By Kathleen Clower) (Year 1991) (VHS tape)
Abstract: Seminar session with students and instructor critiquing student essays for elements of good argumentative writing; thesis statements are examined and strengthened.


Improving Reading Skills

Read the Course Books Before the Semester Starts

Many college students have this policy after learning "the system" to read the course books ahead of time. Of course, this proposes many questions:

  • What am I suppose to be learning from this book?

Answer: Whatever is covered in the book. All things covered that relate to the course are important. Remember as much as you can about a book, while knowing which gibberish to ignore. Often, when reading a book with a lot of information, much of the information to remember belongs to specific people/objects, events, actions, results, locations, concepts, and problems. This "thing to remember logic" applies to multiple academic disciplines.

  • When the class starts, you can ask your professor about what is to remembered and what is not.

Either way, most "good" college students come out of a course remembering about 50% of the material covered in a course book.

Here's something to remember: read as much of a/the book(s) as you can, as soon as you can. Read a/the book(s) before the semester starts.

"Reading before the semester starts" technique: Say, you have five books and one book for each course.

Read at least 10 pages from each book. When you are done with 10 pages from one book, switch to the next book; keep this 10 page revolving system going, until classes start or read a chapter and then switch books. Usually, reading one chapter from a book and switching to the next does well for covering the book(s) of each class. Some people get annoyed with studying one thing, so they'll switch to the next book after a certain amount of pages. If you have a certain major, say psychology, you'll probably be able to retain and read more pages than from other books: This may or may not be a good idea.

By keeping up a certain pattern of reading each book, you will be able know what the books cover and what the class topics are about.

Try to read as much of each book as you can before classes start. You will have an advantage if you read the books ahead of time.

Write Down What You Don't Understand

When a person reads a book he or she may have trouble understanding the concepts of the things presented. Often, a person wants to read a chapter, but he or she may continue to try and understand a concept before moving to the next page.

The best thing to do in this situation is to write down the concept you do not understand. After you write down what you do not understand, present what you don't understand to the professor.

Before presenting, find a way to ask about what you don't understand. Write a question about the concept in question form on a piece of paper. This way, when you talk to the professor, you can ask him or her the question about the topic you don't understand, that is on the piece of paper.


You read a paragraph about RNA, introns, and extrons. Yet you don't understand how introns are cut out from RNA before becoming mRNA.

  • Write down: introns, RNA, and extrons
  • Make a question: How are introns cut out from RNA before RNA becomes mRNA?

After doing so, you may move onto the next page and hopefully understand more as you continue to read. Sometimes as a person moves on, he or she will find different material that is unrelated, so he or she can focus on that material, and later on the part he or she did not understand. With the part someone did not understand he or she would present that question to the professor.

This is a technique used to cover the rest of the chapter, and read the chapter instead of having a point in which someone becomes stuck on a page before moving on.

Highlight what you don't understand

If you have a problem reading something but you can absorb the other information, you might want to highlight certain sections that are giving you problems. Otherwise, you could type these things in a word-processor. Afterwards, you could print them out and later highlight the things you don't understand. Afterwards, you could print another sheet of these things out and highlight the things you still don't understand. Highlighting allows a person to focus on material that is not understood. It allows a person to skip portions of a text that are understood, thus eliminating the need to reread things.

Improving Research Skills

Internet Research

There are several factors to consider while conducting research online.

  1. Relevancy: Is it relevant?
  2. Authority: Does it have an author? Can an author be found?
  3. Credibility: Is the author credible?
  4. Accuracy: Is the information accurate?
  5. Currency: How current is the information?
  6. Accessibility: How easily can it be accessed?
  7. Reading level: What is the reading level? Ph.D reading level? College? High school? Middle school? Grade school reading level?
What needs to be known in order to read the information? Knowledge of statistics? Knowledge of cognitive science and various parts of the brain? Any technical jargon or lingo?

Library Research

Field Research

  1. What is field research?
  2. Before you start: Ask permission.
  3. Supplies for field research?

Library vs. Internet

It is often faster to use a library than it is to use the internet.

For one, the Internet offers a lot of knowledge—a lot of diverse knowledge. Matter of fact, the Internet over the years has become so diverse, searching through the web is like looking through the garbage for something you accidentally threw away. Finding things on the Internet has become very complex these days, and many people rant about having better information to offer than the competitor.

With Internet searching skills, a person will get better at finding materials. Sometimes, people take a shortcut and go to a web forum to ask people a question or where to locate information. The truth is, searching, asking, and locating on the Internet becomes very time consuming. I’ve found that it becomes more time consuming than looking around in a library.

The library often has many resources to choose from. Learning where everything is in a library is important. The more you know about every nook and cranny in a library, the more you can prepare to find materials to do research. Professors usually want book sources when a student is doing a paper. Libraries also have a physical search engine called a librarian. This person is better than an Internet search engine, because you can describe what you need to research, what you are looking for, and ask where it is and how you can find more information.

It is often better to search through a library than through the Internet. This can be disputed, but if you start using a lot of time to research something you could have researched in the library, then maybe you might want to try using the library.






Taking notes of Resources

Citing Resources

  1. MLA
  2. APA
  3. Chicago

Copying Resources

  1. Obtain resources.
  2. Copy down publisher, author, and other information.
  3. If you want, you can use a scanner bed to copy that information from a book.
  4. Copying pages from a book is faster than writing information:
  • Copy cover pages.
  • Copy publisher, author, and LOC page.

Organizing Resources

  1. Print out a physical copy of resources
  2. Put copy into folder(s)
  3. Store information somewhere safe
  4. Store digital data on a digital medium
  5. CDs and DVDs
  6. Upload to the Internet

Photographing Resources

  1. Documenting artifacts, items, and other physical objects in research.
  2. Reprography: A camera and a copy stand.
  3. Buying supplies: A camera and a copy stand.
  4. Post-image processing.

Learning at the College level

Sometimes people who want to learn are impatient. These impatient yet strongly motivated people are the kind of who people who often end up successful in life. In the world of the physical, knowledge is power. Baconites who recognize this might often find themselves asking the question, "How do I obtain the knowledge I want to learn?" Although the definition of knowledge can change from person to person, the idea of knowing what one considers to be knowledge can help him or her quickly access that information. Yet the question still remains, "How do I obtain the knowledge I want to learn?"

Choosing your topic of study

Awesome question with a decent answer: Books.

Books are the things that allow a person to learn information, practice knowledge before taking a college course, and stay ahead of the game. Many college students like reading their course books before the college semester starts. Reading ahead of others puts many college students ahead of the game. It allows college students to readily process the information professors might discuss in class. Also, if a person already knows the information, he or she probably has a better chance of understanding it when discussed with a professor.

Yet most professors choose a certain course book. You need to find out which book that is.

Yet the next question appears:

  • Where do I get these books?
  • Books are expensive!


  1. Find out which book you're going to be using.
  2. Go to the library and find that book.

The College Bookstore is your friend

You want to study something at the college level.

Things you need to know:

  1. College course topic
  2. What book that college course is using

If there is a topic in college that you want to learn, that probably means you are motivated to learn. If this course is listed in a college catalogue, you may be able to figure out what course book that course is using. A course book is the book the course uses for the semester. Sometimes professors change what books the class is using each semester.

To find out these things do the following:

  1. Email a professor and ask him or her which course book he or she is using for a certain course.


  1. Grab paper and pencil
  2. Go to the college bookstore
  3. Look for the course book that you want to read
  4. Write down the name of that course book; write down the name of the author(s); and write down the edition of the book and the ISBN if there is one. It will also do you some good to write down what the cover looks like: Does it have people? What color is the cover? Is there a picture of a butterfly or etc.?

Now that you have that information, you can go to the library.

The Library is your friend

You might be thinking, "The library only has so many books. It doesn't have the books I want."

It might not have those book in the shelves, but it might be able to get those books for you.

Why buy books when the library loans them for free or a feasible fee? If you give information to the librarian, he or she can help you find the book. If you go through an database or catalogue to find the book or media, you might be able to track it down and check it out.

The Librarian is your friend

You walk into the library with the information about a book on hand. You walk toward the librarian and say to her, "Hi. I'd like to find this book and read it," as you point to the piece of paper.

The librarian turns to you, looks at the paper, and says, "Alright. Let's see if we can find it."

Librarians, in a general sense, are geniuses who decided to become the gatekeepers of knowledge instead of teachers. Those who earn a two-year or four-year degree in library science often have a general knowledge of history, science, language, math, etc. Many librarians took these topics and college and regular school. When you talk to them, they'll most likely have a good idea of what you're talking about. Also, they'll have a general idea of what you are looking for. If you have a book title and author, they'll know that you are looking for that book and author. Of course, the important thing to note is the edition of the book. There could be different editions of a book. That is why noting which edition you are looking for is important.

Those who are well-versed in library science can understand the cataloguing and direct you to a shelf of books that relate to the topic you are studying. Otherwise, they can look through an online card catalogue; or they can look through an electronic catalogue.

Librarians can be seen as the gatekeepers of knowledge. They keep a cognitive map of where things are located in the library. Many have an idea of where things are located throughout libraries in a nation. A thing a person must remember is that there are different types of people in the library: pages, assistants, and librarians. Librarians are those who have a degree in library science, and they'll probably be more capable of helping you than a page could.

  1. The librarian as a researcher
  2. The librarian as a physical library catalogue

The Databases are your friend

Many libraries have books. However, not all libraries have all books. Because not all libraries have all books, many libraries have joined together so that they can exchange books with each other. Therefore, if one library doesn't have a book that someone is looking for, then the person could ask his or her library to borrow the book from a different library. This borrowing of books is also known as interlibrary loan.

If someone can't find a certain book at his or her library, he or she could look through a catalogue that lists where that certain book might be. These catalogues, also called databases, often list one or more libraries that offer a book someone is looking for. Databases, such as WorldCat, allow a person to see if a library has a book. If one of these libraries has the book you are looking for, you can fill out a request for your library to obtain that book from a different library. As a last resort, you may be able to request a book from the Library of Congress. However, the Library of Congress will not loan a book to someone through interlibrary loan unless no other library has that book.

If you don't understand the idea of interlibrary loan in this wikibook, go up to a librarian and ask them all about interlibrary loan. Keeping asking the librarians questions about interlibrary loan and the databases.

  1. How to use a database.

Email is your friend

  1. Why email is good.
  2. How it helps you track down books.
  3. How it allows you to keep track of books.

Rotating Books is your Friend

Getting a book through interlibrary loan can become a simple task once someone uses it enough. If a person damages a book in a "noticable way," however, that person could encounter severe fines. Also, if the book is not returned in time after the loan period is over, the person could encounter severe fines. These aren't the typical nickel and dime type fines; these are the ones that can go up to $100. These fines are serious business. That's why it's a good idea to return a book on time, keep it at home, and don't drink or eat near the book. SERIOUSLY.

However, sometimes a person still wants to use the same book. Well, that's where the idea of "rotating" comes into play.

Imagine you recently filled out a request for a book. It often takes about two to four weeks to receive a book through interlibrary loan. After the two week period, you could put in another request for that same book, but you'll want to obtain it from a different library. Hence, the main idea is that you're getting the same type of book but from a different library.

  1. Put in request for book (book 1).
  2. Wait two weeks.
  3. Put in request for the same book with the same title but from a different library (book 2).
  4. You eventually receive book 1.
  5. Two to three weeks later, you have to turn in book 1.
  6. However, book 2 arrives shortly before or after the turn in of book 1.

Notice that you are rotating books. Also, if you want to keep up this cycle, you'll get book 3, too. However, each consecutive book must be from a different library. When the book you had recently rented out gets back to its original library, you might be able to check it out again.

You will be able to keep reading the same book title over and over until you're done with that book. It's a nice trick if you're low on cash and want to learn stuff.

Note: It's not that easy to do this same thing with current college books used in college courses. I'm not trying to be pessimistic here. Many universities have college-level books. And you'll probably have 75% chance of getting the book you want. Some people already know this "system," so they'll check out current editions of college books. However, an older edition often works just as well as the newer edition. A college book which was created before 1990 is typically an out-of-date book. I wouldn't recommend getting a book made before 1990 unless it's for research.

Choosing Supplies

Academic Supplies

What you carry every day to class has a huge impact on your college experience.


A high quality Backpack or Messenger Bag is key for protecting your stuff from the elements. Get one with lots of pockets.


You will want a 5 subject notebook or a three ring organizer and loadable paper. If you take notes on a laptop or tablet, bring a smaller notebook for emergency paper. In class it is not uncommon for some professors to issue impromptu assignments. Without paper you'll be dead in the water. Furthermore, should you run out of battery, you will still be able to take notes.

Your writing utensils are very important. They should be comfortable in your hand and suit your writing style. You will want a good quality black ink ballpoint pen and quality mechanical pencils as your main writing utensils. It helps to bring a red and blue pen for marking up work, though some prefer an all in one multicolor pen. Highlighters and post it notes are essential tools when annotating handouts, and your own books.

Classroom Tech


Each professor or department will have their own opinion or policy on calculator use. Some let anything go. Some will require a specific brand of calculator. Some classes, especially remedial ones, will put restrictions on how good the calculator can be, and might even prohibit any calculator. These restrictions most commonly prohibit calculators with Computer Algebra Systems (CAS), Programmability, or Graphing Capabilities built in. Get the calculator that is recommended by your professor.

For general use a scientific calculator or a graphing calculator is a good thing to have on hand for when you need to do unexpected calculations.

To verify a calculator is working properly and is good enough for general use, try calculating 22. If it's answer is anything other than 2, you should reconsider relying on that calculator.

Business students ought to consider getting a financial calculator. These calculators have common functions used in Business coursework built in.

Flash Drives

A USB thumb drive can be a handy device to use when in computer labs.

Sometimes you may find yourself in situations where you lack the time to upload a large file to the cloud for a quick transfer, or find yourself on an offline computer with important documents. A flash drive is invaluable in these situations. Get one that can attach to a lanyard or keychain so you don't loose it.


Laptops in lectures

Some programs in your school may have a computer requirement, requiring that you own a computer. Some programs will go a step farther and require minimum specifications your computer must meet. Some programs go even farther and require a computer from a specific manufacturer, or even a specific model of computer. In these cases, get a computer that meets your schools requirements. Most Professors look dimly on students who disrupt class by not being properly prepared.

If your school does not have a computer requirement, you may be able to save money by relying on computer labs operated by the university.

Laptop or Desktop or Tablet

Laptops can be a convenience, but sometimes they aren't a needed item. If you get easily distracted in class, forcing yourself to leave your computer at home by getting a desktop can be a smart move, assuming your professor doesn't require a laptop for in class work. Desktops are often cheaper then an equivalent laptop, and offer several advantages, such as larger screens, more ergonomic keyboard options, and other perks. Some laptops support docking, which allow them to act like desktops. Furthermore, the widespread use of laptops on campuses have lead many professors to unofficially expect students to have one.

For a student looking to take notes in class and very little else, they would do fine with a simple paper notebook or a tablet computer. In this case, a student should still have access to a fully featured computer, as professors may assign work requiring a computer without outlining an official computer requirement in their syllabus.

Digital Divide

Sometimes computers fail, or a student can not afford a computer. In these cases a college may have solutions. Some colleges offer laptop loan programs, which allow students to borrow a computer for a semester, often for free if the computer is returned undamaged. Many colleges still maintain computer labs, which offer an office like environment for conducting scholarly or professional work.

If you have a computer, but it is unable to run heavy applications such as those used for engineering or complex 3D rendering, you may consider a cloud desktop service. These usually charge by the hour or month, and allow you to use a server to run your software and stream a desktop to your device.

Portable Storage

Sometimes lab computers are configured in a way that allows the running of portable applications. These are special applications designed to run from a flash drive or cloud storage without traditional installation.

Learn to use the network resources offered by your college such as cloud storage solutions or other resources.


Open Source Software

When selecting software, you should consider using Open Source Software when possible. Open Source software is free as in freedom, and often free as in beer. Additionally Open Source software can often be used on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh computers.

Common Applications

Some commons open source applications useful for students include.

Applications more useful for specific majors include

Art & Humanities


  • PuTTY - Terminal application.
  • FlightGear - Flight Simulator
  • FreeCAD - 3D Computer Aided Design application.
  • LibreCAD - 2D Computer Aided Design application.
  • KiCad - Electronic design automation
  • R - Statistical programming environment
  • QGIS - Geographic Information System Software.

General Living Supplies

Furniture & Appliances

When getting supplies for your dorm room, it's important to find out what's already there. Having two microwaves is rarely useful. Look up the dimensions of your room - Even a minifridge may not fit in a small room for example.

You certainly don't need every appliance on this list. Indeed, if you are living on campus a number of these items may in fact be prohibited, though what is and isn't allowed depends on your individual college. Most items in the Cooking list are either included in a dormitory kitchen or banned outright, typically for fire safety. If you rent a private dwelling off campus, you will have more freedom in what you may bring, with the added responsibility of those items.


  • Electric Kettle or Coffee Maker. Tea or Coffee prepared by yourself is often much cheaper.
  • Microwave, Toaster, or Toaster Oven for quick snacks. Consider an oven if living off campus.
  • Mini-fridge. Consider a full size fridge if living off campus.
  • Insulated Lunchbox, Bottle. Being able to prepare your own meals saves serious cash over eating out.
  • Travel Silverware.
  • Dish Soap, Rags or Paper Towels, Sponge.


  • Box Fan. Even if your room has air conditioning, there's a good chance it's centralized and won't perform to your standards.
  • Dehumidifier. Reducing the humidity of your room can make it feel cooler.
  • Extra blankets can be used to keep warm on cooler nights.


Create a spreadsheet listing all items you are bringing with you of nontrivial cost, along with short descriptions of unique markings or serial numbers. Save it in an online account.

  • Safe. A small safe or locked box for sensitive documents, medication, laptops, etc will help deter theft. Generally there are no good ways to mount a safe in a dorm or apartment, so consider investing in a sturdy cable to tie it to permanent room fixtures or large furniture.
  • K-Locks for stationary electronics. They won't stop determined thieves, but they will stop people from just walking off with your stuff.
  • Permanent Markers. Write property of "YOUR NAME" on expensive items in hard to find areas, so you can prove your ownership if needed.
  • Bicycle license. Your city may allow you to register your bike with local police. Having your bike serial number on record makes it harder to resell.


A keyring is handy for more than just carrying keys, it can also be used to carry thumb drives, miniature flashlights, and bottle openers.

You'll want good, durable clothes for the environment you're in. If you're studying in Florida, leave the heavy winter coat at home.

Bring at least one set of formalwear. Doesn't have to be expensive, you can typically find cheap suits at thrift stores.

Good shoes that fit you well are paramount if you walk to class. Bad shoes let water in, and give you blisters.

A swimsuit is useful to bring if your gym has a pool, hot tub, or lazy river. It's also good if you're near an ocean or a large lake.

If you have clothes with the logo of rival schools on it, leave them behind. Get at least one piece of clothing with your school logo on it.


Instant Noodles are cheap and quick, but you should vary your diet.

Learning to eat cheap is a good way to save money during college.

There are a lot of foods that you can easily prepare with variety without access to an oven.

  • Instant Noodles (Ramen, Udon, Mee Goreng, Chow Mein)
  • Instant Soup (Tomato, Tomato Bisque, Vegetable, Minestrone)
  • Microwavable rice (Top with a variety of sauces, instant curry, etc)
  • Texas Toast (Garlic, Cheese)
  • Toast (Add Jam, Butter, or Avocado for flavor)
  • Sandwiches (Peanut Butter and Jelly, Cheese, etc)
  • Apples, Bananas, Grapes, and Olives.
  • Pizza (Leftover, Microwavable, Bites)
  • French Bread
  • Nachos (Microwave shredded cheese on chips, or buy queso dip)
  • Potatoes, Baked Potatoes, Instant Mashed Potatoes, Microwavable hashbrowns, fries.
  • Instant Pasta
  • Jerky
  • Microwave Quesadilla
  • S'mores

You can make these cheap foods more palatable with a small selection of spices and sauces. Salt, Pepper, Ketchup, Mustard, Dijon, Mayo, BBQ sauce, Hot Sauce, Sriracha Sauce, Teriyaki sauce, and Soy Sauce can put a new spin on food before you get tired of it.

Check out the Microwave Cooking cookbook for more info.

Personal Care

You'll also want some supplies for personal care. Below is a list you can tailor to your own needs.

  • Laundry detergent.
  • Laundry bag or basket (Ideally collapsable to save space)
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash (3 In One saves space)
  • Comb or brush
  • Basic First Aid Kit (Doesn't have to be fancy. Have some bandages, antibiotic ointment, etc.)
  • Sandals and a robe, if using communal showers.
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Floss.
  • Razors, shaving supplies
  • Earplugs and Eyemask. If there's unavoidable noise or bright light, you'll want to be sure you can get some sleep regardless.
  • Condoms. You can often get these for free at University Health centers.
  • Feminine hygiene products. You may be able to get these for free from Student Government Initiatives or a Women's center.

Choosing a Class

Don't Choose a Class you Hate

Like high school, college is full of classes people must take in order to earn a degree. Many students don't like taking these courses because they do not relate to their major. Students, nonetheless, have to take courses that don't relate to their major most of the time.

How do you choose a class that doesn't relate to your major?

Do not choose a course you are NOT good at.

If you didn't do very well at history growing up, then don't take a history course. College history is very different than high school history.

If you ever found the names of people, geographical regions and developments, battles, and other information to become an overload, then maybe history isn't your thing.

If you are interested in becoming a biologist, but you've always had an interest in abnormal behavior of people such as cutters, drunkards, and schizophrenics, then maybe Psychology would be a course you would like and be interested in.

There may be courses you are interested in taking, but how do you know it is the right course to take? Is psychology the right course to take to learn about people who are cutters and drunkards? It was stated that those people may be linked to psychology, but how do you know the author was correct? How is Psychology different than Sociology? Is Psychology the right course to take? Before choosing a course, make sure you know what the topic is about.

  • Sociology studies society as a whole and how it all things combine.
  • Psychology studies the behavior of an individual.

A rule to remember in college is to take courses that you like. You pay for the courses, you have the ability to choose the courses; take the courses you like. When you have fun with courses, then you'll be able to enjoy what you are doing more. Stressful and dull courses often lead to dull grades.

If no courses are offered that you like per se, then there may be courses you are good at. For example, let's say you know Japanese but Japanese is not offered. Do you consider yourself an expert at mastering languages? Have you studied the Spanish language before? Did you do well in Spanish? Then maybe Spanish will be an ok alternative, for now.

By choosing courses you are good at or are deeply interested in, you find a sure-fire way to keep your grades top notch. People may say this is cheating yourself of learning things in college; however, the paradox exists where doing homework and studying for tests happens more often than learning for fun in college. College after all, is a beginning place for people to go to a university. If a person wants to go to a university, then he or she has to have decent grades.

College has a lot to do with understanding your capabilities and skills. Many of the things "taught" in college can be learned on your own time. Some people don't go to college because they wish to study independently and practice chemistry or foreign languages on their own time.

College and Hobbies

The interesting thing to remember here is that some people study things outside of college that don't earn them a grade. Focus only on the courses you are taking in college and don't spend extra time dabbling in hobbies. Of course, most people who dabble in hobbies find student clubs around the campus to join for fun.

The lesson here is many people will study courses, earn their degree, and then later on take courses that relate to a hobby of theirs. While in college, focus only on class material. Do not dabble in building computers, welding, or etc. unless it is part of the class material. What is not part of college work should be put off until you earn your degree unless they are house chores or part of your paycheck.

Those who like to dabble in hobbies will try to find a college course that relates to that hobby. For example, if someone likes to build cars, then he or she could find an auto mechanic course in school. Why spend time outside of school dabbling when you could be in college earning college credit for it?

Now, some people take courses at college for fun, because they relate to a hobby of theirs. Another important lesson to remember here is that not all courses transfer. Sometimes courses people take out of interest and fun do not transfer; therefore, people become angry that they wasted money and time on a course that does not transfer.

The central idea of going to college is that it builds credentials. College creates a status for a person. It's better to—study the course materials, review and discuss them, and finish them before the course is over—than to dabble efforts in something, watch your grades go down because you were side-tracked, and then think you ought to have spent more time on school than on hobbies.

Creating a Planner

Whenever starting a new semester, it's always a good idea to have your events planned out. If you have every detail of your day planned out, you'll become less susceptible to the planning fallacy.(1)

Supplies needed:

  1. Watch (Wristwatch or clock)
  2. Writing instrument.
  3. Paper or other surface for writing on.
  4. Grasp of division. Ex: [(140/7) = 20]
  5. Computer
  6. A spreadsheet program:, Microsoft Excel, Google account, etc..

Creating a Class Schedule

  1. Obtain your class schedule.
  2. Create a spreadsheet document.
  3. Wikibook not complete.....

Preparing to avoid the planning fallacy

The planning fallacy occurs when you think you know how long something will take. However, a more mathematical approach to planning out your day would be better than an assumption. Typically the best way to figure out how long it will take to read 20 pages of a textbook is to time one's self. If a person were to stay keep the environment around her or him consistent, maintain the same speed of reading and comprehension, and keep on task, then he or she would have variables to help determine how long it took to read 20 pages. This may not be the best statistical way to prepare, but it is better than nothing or assuming.


You sit in a quiet library with a pair of AoSafety headphones on. You keep your eyes on the book and maintain a steady rate of reading. In two hours you have read 20 pages of your textbook. If you were to continue going through your textbook—proceeding to a different text after the 20 pages and returning back to the preceding text—and reading 20 more pages, then you can view how long it took you to read 20 pages again.

Analyzed version:

  1. Read 20 pages of a book. (Book 1)
  2. Log the amount of time it took to read 20 pages.
  3. Read 20 pages of a different book. (Book 2)
  4. Log the amount of time it took to read 20 pages.
  5. Read 20 pages of a different book. (Book 3)
  6. Log the amount of time it took to read 20 pages.
  7. Read 20 pages of a different book. (Book 4)
  8. Log the amount of time it took to read 20 pages.
  9. Read 20 pages of a different book. (Book 5)

  • If you have fewer than five books, go back to book 1.
  • If you have greater than five books, alternate the time accordingly to whatever heuristic thought you have.


  1. Read 15 pages of a different book. (Book 5)
  2. Log the amount of time it took to read 15 pages.
  3. Read 15 pages of a different book. (Book 6)

Continue reading and logging time for a week (7 days).

By the end of a week, you should have the amount of time it took you to read 20 pages of each book per day.

Example: Book 1 (Su: 2 hours; M: 1 hour 30 mins; T: 2 hours 15 minutes; ...) Add up the amount of time from each day for book 1; divide by 7.

  • This is typically how long it takes you to read 20 pages of book 1.

Do the same for every other book.

  • This is typically how long it takes you to read 20 pages of that book.

There may be problems with the first few days in which you become acquainted with a textbook. These problems should be totaled into the equation.

After doing this for a week, you have a better understanding of how long it takes you to read a certain book. It is advised that you switch between books.

Setting up a Reading Schedule



Going to Class

Attendance can be an issue when going to college. There comes a time in the career of most college students where they may feel the need to miss class. However, missing class is unadvised as it is an integral part of the learning experience.


There are several reasons one should go to class.

One reason is that many courses, especially lecture courses, are designed in such a way that information is not repeated between different class meetings, and missing a certain day means that you miss a day to learn new material. This can be hazardous and hurt one's grade.

Lack of Sleep

If a student hasn't been sleeping well or hasn't slept within the past 24 hours, he or she could use a voice recorder as a secondary "remembering device". When a person is fatigued, he or she typically can not remember as much as he or she would when awake. However, the voice recorder can retain 100% of what the brain can not. All a student has to do is pull out a voice recorder, set it up on a desk or table, and start recording. Afterwards, the student can nod off and the device records the lecture. Then, the student can listen to it later when he or she is more awake.


Going to the Library

Going to school and staying away from home is the best possible thing to do if you want to study. Being at home, a person may be tempted to turn on the television or play around on the internet. This is why going to a library is recommended. Make sure you make a meal for yourself so you can study for a few hours there.

Also, unless you really, really have to use it, stay away from the internet and a computer. Sometimes, when a person gets on the internet, they will become distracted in listening to music, reading a blog, etc., instead of doing school work. Staying away from a computer is often a good strategy when studying in a library.

Finding a quiet space

When inside the library, find a quiet place to sit. Make sure this area has ample lighting; lighting has an effect on the circadian system of the human body and keeps the mind awake and active.

Of course, a library is not always the quietest place around, if the surroundings are not controlled. Cell phones are the demons of today's world when one wishes to have silence. Colleges are also not without their chatty individuals. A recommendation is to get the type of ear muffs a person wears when shooting a gun. Don't buy a gun, or use a gun in school; just buy the ear muffs used. The ear muffs, at times, are better than noise-canceling headphones. Ear muffs greatly reduce the sound level of your surroundings.

See Also


Your position as a student

  1. Improve the society with your acquired knowledge.

Your rights as a student

  • Typically outlined in a student handbook.
  • Generally includes reasonable free speech, and especially speech of academic nature, at public universities in the United States.
  • Generally includes the right to be secure and free from threats.
  • Generally includes the right to due process for alleged conduct violations, as well as the right to be informed about such accusations.

Talking in Class

Active Learning Class

Most professors take an active learning approach, and ask for student participation. In these Classes

  • Volunteer.
  • Be an inspiration to the class.
  • Avoid unacademic activities.

Passive Lectures

Some professors prefer to lecture with no interruption. This is distinct from a professor who welcomes participation, but who's lecture style makes it difficult to participate.

  • Write down your questions, ask them after the lecture.
  • Stay focused and engaged. Pay attention to the professor and any demonstrations or board work performed.
  • Take notes or do practice problems if possible.

Not Talking in Class

Rules of Thumb:

  1. If you don't know something, ask the professor a question.
  2. If talking in class is not required, try to not talk too much, with the following exceptions:
    1. If the professor wants dialogue to make a point, and nobody is speaking up, you should take the initiative and bite.
    2. Some professors will be strict about not talking during a lecture, but absolutely encourage talking during post lecture Q&A's.
  3. If you are angry at the professor, email the professor or talk to the professor outside of class.
    1. Consider writing your thoughts out and articulating your points before you send a hasty message.
    2. Consider waiting a day, or asking an uninvolved peer if your grievance is justified.
  4. If the class is behind on lectures and covering new material, it is considerate at times to let class conversations die down for a few days.