Course Syllabus

Welcome to College Success

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.


Course Description

Get oriented to the college environment by combining conceptual knowledge with practical strategies and skills. Since this course applies these concepts to real-world situations, it is particularly helpful for first-generation students and anyone who wants to be sure they are prepared, academically or otherwise, for college.


Course Introduction

This course offers new students an orientation to the college environment. It helps build more capable lifelong learners by combining conceptual knowledge with practical strategies and skills. It will equip you with the basic academic, professional, and personal skills you need to be successful in college.

In Unit 1, we determine your goals for your college education. Why are you pursuing an undergraduate degree? Knowing your response to this question will help you stay motivated when you encounter challenges during your college experience. In Unit 2, we explore how to manage your personal space and time to maximize your ability to learn. In Units 3 and 4, we consider what it means to be career-ready and understand the importance your social life has in your college success. In Units 5 through 7, we explore the learning process itself and the different skills and tools you can use to improve your academic performance. Units 8 and 9 provide general strategies for communicating with college instructors and managing stress, anxiety, and other factors that affect your academic goals and overall health during college. Unit 10, the final unit of the course, equips you with some tools to help prepare you for a career after college.

By the end of this course, you will have gained a comprehensive overview of the skills, tools, and resources you will need for a successful, healthy, and happy college experience. You will understand how to apply the concepts we discuss to your individual academic and personal goals and practice the skills you learn by testing them in the college courses you plan to take or are already taking. Finally, you will possess a strong starting point for applying your newfound skills to your job search and career beyond college.

This course was developed by Lumen Learning, with contributing work from Linda Bruce of Goucher College, Ronda Dorsey Neugebauer and Zack Varpness of Chadron State College, and others.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Motivating Success
  • Unit 2: Goal Setting and Time Management
  • Unit 3: Career Exploration
  • Unit 4: Social Interaction and Diversity
  • Unit 5: Thinking and Analysis
  • Unit 6: Learning Styles and Strategies
  • Unit 7: Study Skills
  • Unit 8: Beyond the Classroom
  • Unit 9: Health Management
  • Unit 10: Financial Management


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • clarify and state your individual educational goals, and formulate specific plans to work toward these goals;
  • design and implement a personal time-management plan;
  • identify your preferred learning style;
  • describe and employ strategies for effective reading;
  • describe and employ critical thinking and creative thinking skills;
  • describe and implement effective listening, note-taking, memory-retention, and academic research and writing skills, and identify methods for improving these skills;
  • identify and accurately judge the credibility of online material when conducting academic research;
  • define and evaluate examples of academic integrity versus academic dishonesty;
  • describe and use different methods of exam preparation;
  • describe and employ strategies for effectively interacting with instructors and classmates both inside and outside the classroom;
  • explain test anxiety and list strategies for reducing it;
  • formulate a personal plan for managing stress, monitoring your personal health, and increasing your personal safety;
  • assess how to successfully balance college coursework with participation in extracurricular activities and social life; and
  • identify resources and strategies for managing your finances while in college.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

This course was developed by Lumen Learning, with contributing work from Linda Bruce of Goucher College, Ronda Dorsey Neugebauer and Zack Varpness of Chadron State College, and others. The primary learning material for this course is the online textbook College Success.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. To pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.


Earning College Credit

This course is eligible for college credit via Saylor Academy's Direct Credit Program. If you want to earn college credit, you must take and pass the Direct Credit final exam. That exam will be password protected and requires a proctor. If you pass the Direct Credit exam, you will receive a Proctor Verified Course Certificate and be eligible to earn an official transcript. For more information about applying for college credit, review the guide to college credit opportunities. Be sure to check the section on proctoring for details like fees and technical requirements.

There is a 14-day waiting period between attempts of the Direct Credit final exam. There is no waiting period between attempts for the not-for-credit exam and the Direct Credit exam. You may only attempt each Direct Credit final exam a maximum of 3 times. Be sure to study in between each attempt!


Tips for Success

College Success is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 40 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a comfortable pace that allows you to make regular progress. It's also a good idea to schedule your study time in advance and try to stick to that schedule as best as you can.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory and will make you more likely to retain information over time.


Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course, including the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.
  • If you plan to attempt the optional Direct Credit final exam, then you will also need access to a webcam. This lets our remote proctoring service verify your identity, which is required to issue an official transcript to schools on your behalf.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course also has an optional final exam that can give you an opportunity to earn college credit. This exam requires the use of a proctoring service for identity verification purposes. The cost for proctoring for this optional exam is $5 per session.

Last modified: Wednesday, May 31, 2023, 12:46 PM