Welcome to the student success toolkit

DGS is committed to the success of students’ academic performance.

As a result, this Student Success Toolkit is designed to provide you with resources and action steps to help you perform well academically. Below you will find several Learning Skills topics that you can explore as you begin your academic journey with DGS. 

Choose your skill

Communicating with Professors


Communicating with your professors and instructors is one important aspect to your success in any class. Your professor or instructor will typically outline the best way to communicate with them. Additionally, when meeting with your professors or instructions, you will always want to maximize your time, so preparing ahead of time is critical. 

When attending office hours, you will want to be prepared to use this time effectively. This handout will help you identify the purpose of your meeting along with outlining goals you hope to accomplish when meeting your professors or instructors during thier office hours. 

Oftentimes writing an email can be an efficient and easy way to communicate with your professors or instructors. In your email correspondence, you will want to state your purpose and goal(s) clearly. Here are some tips that will help you write a concise email to your professors or instructors. 

Critical Reading

Book Mark

When reading any text, it is important to critically read the material to understand the concepts, theories, or the point-of-view of the author(s). Reading critically will allow you to analyze, comprehend, and retain information.

As you read different texts for class, annotating will help you read critically to gain an understanding of the text. This handout outlines three steps to help you annotate your text. 

Effective Note Taking


Effective notetaking is an important aspect to the learning process. Taking notes is one way to ensure you are learning material for each of your classes.

When learning new information, it has been shown that individuals who take notes oftentimes are able to retain, recall, and recite material successfully. You will want to look at the different methods of note taking including the Cornell, Outline, and Concept Map/Flow Chart Methods to see what works best for you. 

There can be many distractions that prevent us from paying attention. You may find yourself daydreaming, passing judgment on the speaker, or too tired to understand the material. There are several strategies you can implement to help yourself become a better listener.

Learning Styles

Gear Book

Everyone has their own unique learning style which refers to how individuals process and learn new information. By knowing what type of learning style you have, it will help you to be successful when taking different courses.

Find out what Learning Style you have by taking the Learning Style Assessment.

After you have taken the Learning Style Assessment, read about different study strategies to help you improve your academic performance in the classroom.


Memorization icon

In some classes you may be encouraged to memorize certain information. Memorizing pieces of information will be useful when taking exams, quizzes or even writing a paper.

There are several tips that you can utilize to help you with memorizing information. Learn different tips and tricks to help improve your memory. 

Online Learning


You may find yourself taking an online class and wondering how you can be successful. In a traditional classroom setting – you may be used to being able to ask questions directly to the professor, socializing with classmates, and sitting in a classroom on a certain day and time. There are simple things that you can do to help yourself be just as successful while taking an online course.

If you are taking a synchronous course, you will want to be thoughtful when attending your class. It is important to be respectful, not only to your professor, but also your classmates. This handout outlines several different tips while using Zoom to attend class. 

When it comes to online learning, some classes may be asynchronous, and you may find yourself watching lecture videos and doing assignments on your own. There are several tips that you can follow to make sure you are successful when taking an asynchronous course.


Clipped Paper

Being organized will not only help you in your personal life, but it will allow you to optimize your time to be more focused, less stressed, and perform better on assignments. Below are a few action steps you can utilize to help improve your organizational skills.

Your syllabus is the road map to the success in any course you will take. This handout will help you outline your syllabi and help you stay organized when it comes to course expectations, course policies, and major assignments.

As you enter college, being organized will help you be successful as you have multiple responsibilities. This handout offers several tips to keep and stay organized throughout the semester.

When working on large or small assignments, it is always important to create an Action Plan that outlines different tasks or steps to complete your assignment. This handout will guide you through setting goals and deadlines to complete your assignments.


Orange Calendar Icon

Procrastination in the simplest form, is the act of waiting to complete a task or action due to lack of motivation, fear, stress, and or interest. It is important to identify different situations where you are procrastinating and how you may be able to overcome this obstacle.

Learn different tips that will help you focus and overcome procrastination. One way to overcome procrastination is by creating an action plan that outlines different tasks or steps to complete for any assignment. 

Study Environment


You will want to consider having a dedicated space to focus on your schoolwork. More importantly, your workspace needs to be one where you can focus, minimize distractions, and complete tasks. 

Completing the Study Environment Inventory will allow you to think about different components of a good work environment.

Study Skills

Study Skills

When it comes to your study habits, we all have room for improvement. It is important to continue to develop strong study skills as you become a lifelong learner beyond your academic career.

This assessment will help identify different areas of improvement as well as strengths as it pertains to study habits. This assessment will focus on the following areas: Time Management, Note Taking, Reading, Test Taking, and Memorization.

Understanding the study cycle is important to your academic success. This handout will outline several steps you can do to help you prepare for classes, ultimately preparing you to engage during discussions and partake in small group activities.

Knowing course expectations is important to your success in each course you take. It is important to refer to your syllabus as professors typically outline course and student expectations. This handout will help you prepare for each class.

Test Taking Strategies

Plan icon

Exams are used by professors as a way to measure and assess students’ understanding of information taught in the classroom. It is important to create a plan to prepare for exams. It is also equally important to think about how to prepare for different types of exam questions. 

When preparing for any exam, it is important to create a plan and a schedule for you to study your notes and review your textbook or articles. Creating a 10-day study plan will help you be prepared for your next exam.

Read about different tips on how to best answer multiple choice, true/false, short answer and eassy exam questions. 

Time Management


Time management is one of the most crucial skills you can perfect as a college student. By planning and using your time wisely, you will be able to accomplish more and enjoy added free time. Below are a few time management tips to help you maximize your time. 

The Time Management Assessment will evaluate your current time management skills.

Creating a weekly schedule and planning two weeks in advance will help you identify upcoming deadlines. Here are three different options to create a schedule that will help you manage your time.

The Priority Quadrants will help you prioritize your tasks by identifying what tasks are Critical verses Not Critical and what tasks are Do Now verses Do Later. By completing this handout, it will help you create a to-do list.

Completing the Time Management Calculator can help identify the number of hours you have to focus on getting tasks completed.

Additional Resources


Email us at genstudies@illinois.edu