Go to class!
Well, duh! But, this is the first and most helpful tip to succeed at college. How will you know what is going on in class and what you do or don’t understand regarding the course content unless you attend? Also, let’s remember why you are in college…to learn, or at least this should be the prime reason you and your parents and the government are paying tuition, room, and board.
Being in class allows you to have your questions answered, take part in discussions that often both augment and increase your understanding of the subject, and listen to other students’ problems, questions, and points of view which may very well clarify things for you. Another thing is that being in class greatly improves your chances of passing the exams. You will hear the professor’s emphasis of what s/he feels are the important points of your readings, and the discussion and professor’s presentations will often be included on the exams.
Sit near the front of the classroom.
In class you should not sit in the middle or toward the back; rather you need to sit toward the front. This sounds like another obvious tip, but if you think about it you realize what this tip is really implying. Not only will you be better able to hear and see what’s being presented, you will also be better able to engage with the professor, which is a definite plus.
In addition you will not be unfairly associated with those that come in late or leave early, those that may disrupt, or those that, yes,…sleep. It is worth it for you to establish yourself in this classroom as one who is interested, alert, and awake.
Do class preparation BEFORE class.
This is important so that your time in class is better spent. You should know about any terms or facts before the start of class so that you can follow what the class discussion covers.
It is also good for you to know beforehand what problems you have with the materials. In this way you can clarify or get help early on and avoid falling behind and getting more and more confused.
Have some regular contact with your professor.
Contact with your professor does so much to promote a good learning situation. First, you become a real person to your professor, more than a number. When a professor knows you as a person he or she will work with you more readily and understand you better. In the same way, you should know professors are humans too. They like to believe you are interested in their subject and that you are connecting with them. How could it hurt to have a relationship with your teacher! You may actually learn more.
Contact is easy. Raise your hand and ask a question or make a comment in class from time to time. Stop by to talk with your professor before or after class. Know your professor’s office hours and location of his/her office. You should stop by once or twice a semester so the professor will have a sense of you beyond the classroom walls.
By developing a relationship with your professor, you will be more comfortable turning to him or her for assistance when you don’t understand something, and it will be easier for you to share information about your own problems. Too often students do not tell their professor if they have personal illness, a medical condition, or a family emergency, etc. Professors will be more understanding if they know about you and may have some good suggestions about keeping up with your work missed or getting outside help.
You never know when a professor will become a mentor and /or a friend who will point you in the right direction in your academic interests, introduce you to future professors, write a personal recommendation, or simply be there for you.