How to learn: Show up. Do the things. Be consistent.

Students often ask how to be successful in school. Here are my suggestions:

Show up

A large part of making progress is just showing up – even if you don’t feel like it. And to increase the probability that you might learn something from lecture, come to class prepared. Bring paper, a writing utensil, and a notebook. It’s helpful to have several colored pens or highlighters. Be present in class; eliminate distractions by stashing your electronics.

We often need to be exposed to a new concept several times before we start to comprehend it. So, go to every one of your scheduled lab sections. Stay for the entire time. Find a weekly office hour or MSI session that fits your schedule. Actually attend!

Do the things

Just “do the things.” #1 tip: Find a study group. How do you find a study group? Go to office hours and MSI.

Review your notes after every class starting from the beginning of the quarter. Redo all of the examples, and complete any examples we didn’t get to. Repetition is key to understanding. Spending time to strengthen your knowledge foundation will serve you in completing the lab assignments.

Start labs early. You will inevitably run into bugs that you have to fix. This often takes way longer than you might think to resolve. Starting labs early enables you to catch these issues early on so you are not panicked at 11 pm on the due date.

Make up your own examples. Rewrite the homework with different numbers. Solve this new version of the homework.

Be consistent

The key to progression in any context is consistency. We can’t expect to learn a new subject or skill if we don’t work it into our weekly schedule. So, just show up and do the things. Consistently.


Here is a collection of links and notes that you might find helpful.


perdue online writing lab


command line interface reference
vim quick reference
emacs reference sheet

Grad School

grad school application timeline