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“Secrets of College Success”



Pre-Listening Question

Why do some college students succeed and others struggle in school? Based on these ideas, what are some of the academic secrets to do well at college? 

Vocabulary and Expressions

Here are some words and expressions that appear in the video:

show up (phrasal verb): appear or arrive at an appointment
– Some of my friends don’t show up for class, and as a consequence, they fail.

expectation (noun): a feeling that something will probably happen, or how good something or someone will be
– Some students have high expectations that college will be nothing but excitement, but they often feel disappointed when school is not all fun and games.

early bird (idiom): someone who gets up early, an earlier riser
– My father is an early bird since he always gets up by 4:30 a.m.

Listening Comprehension Questions

Now, watch the interview and answer the comprehension questions. You can also turn on the automatically-generated captions for the video once you start it.


Randall: Today, I’m visiting with Aubrey, and we’re talking about success at college. What are the secrets to success? And I think many people, as they go off to college, have great dreams of how they want their future to unfold. And so, Aubrey, what are maybe 2 or 3 things that students can do to prepare for their college life so they can have a successful experience?

Aubrey: Yeah. I mean, they’re the obvious ones, right? Um, show up ’cause some people skip that step. Turn in your assignment. That’s, that’s a big one that people don’t think of. Like, if you get halfway through something, 50% is better than a zero.

Randall: Good point. Very good point.

Aubrey: Um, and if you can avoid it, don’t schedule your classes at seven in the morning.

Randall: Okay. So let’s talk about a couple of these. The first one you talked about show up. What do you mean showing up? Whether it be a face-to-face class or an online class, let’s say through Zoom.

Aubrey: Yeah. So I guess this can also be dependent on whether or not the professor takes attendance, um, ’cause if they do, then you definitely want to be there. Um, but showing up to class, like even if you’re not paying attention, um, it shows that you’re motivated to learn. And if, you know, things go badly for you, they’re more likely to help you out if you’ve been attending class. Um, I mean, obviously, the ideal would be that you’re paying attention, you’re taking notes, you’re studying, um, but just showing that effort is good for you in the long run.

Randall: Great point. And I think for teachers, also making sure your expectations are clear right from the beginning. You also said about not taking a really early class. I mean, a lot of people have great dreams. I’m gonna try to fill my schedule with classes from the beginning to the end of the day.

Aubrey: That’s a mistake.

Randall: What recommendation would you yeah, what would you suggest not doing?

Aubrey: Unless you’re an early bird, you’re someone that gets up at five in the morning on the regular, right, you’re not gonna go to that 7 a.m. class like you might for the first couple of weeks. But I mean, it depends on the person, too, like and the atmosphere of the school because a lot of people, they go to college, they party, they go out and they have fun. You’re not gonna want to go to a 7 a.m. class after that.

Randall: Good point. So thank you for sharing some of those tips on having success at college.

Conversation Questions


  1. What are some things students can do to prepare for a successful college experience, according to Aubrey?
  2. Why is it important for students to show up to their classes, whether in person or online?
  3. What does Aubrey suggest about scheduling early morning classes in college?


  1. Discuss the significance of attending classes and turning in assignments for achieving success in college, based on Aubrey’s comments.
  2. Explain the potential drawbacks of scheduling early morning classes and how it can impact a student’s college experience.
  3. Explore the relationship between active class participation, engagement, and academic success in college, drawing insights from Aubrey’s viewpoint.
  4. Analyze the factors that contribute to student-teacher interactions and how attending classes can establish a supportive academic environment for students.
  5. Discuss the importance of finding a balance between academic commitments and social activities in college, considering the impact on class attendance and overall success.

Related Language Activities on Randall’s Web Site

The following activities deal with related topics to give you additional language practice.

ChatGPT was used collaboratively to prepare some of the discussion questions for this lesson.
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