6 Critical Pieces of Advice for Students
Let’s look at some general advice for succeeding in college. Over the course of fifteen years of teaching I would suggest to students that they adopt the following practices.
Attend Class: This is an obvious point but one that a surprising number of students seem to ignore. You’ve paid for the course you are taking; or at least someone has paid for it on your behalf. Not attending class is like paying for a product in the store and not taking delivery. You way think that the course you are taking is a waste of time and so showing up is also a waste. But, the potential harm you do yourself by not showing up is not going to be offset by the college credit you may (assuming you pass the course) receive.
Be Punctual: Mark Twain once said that 80% of life is showing up. Another important percentage is showing up on time. Being punctual shows you take the class seriously and respect the professor’s time enough to attend the entire class. An important component of your time in college is the impression you create of a conscientious student and being punctual is an important component of that.
Pay Attention: Once you get to class show that you take it seriously by paying attention. You are wasting your time if you do not make every effort to get something out of the class you have enrolled in and have paid for. You can’t get much out of the class if you do not attend to what is going on while you are there.
Be Interactive: Passively paying attention is not really the best way to benefit from taking a course. You need to be an active learner and part of this is interacting with your fellow classmates and the professor. Ask questions. Make comments when prompted. Suggest connections between the course material and other courses and areas of your own life. The more active you are in your learning the more you will retain and be able to use after you complete the course.
Make Connections: Here I am referring to making connections between what you are learning and what you already know. Also, make connections between what you are learning and your everyday life. Not all professors will make the effort to show that the course you are enrolled in has relevance beyond the classroom but I can assure you that every course you take is relevant in some way to your life and your profession. Make the effort to find those connections and make the material relevant.
Make an Impression: If you leave the course you are taking without the professor knowing who you are you have made a major mistake. Part of the college experience is learning how to network and an important part of this is building relationships with faculty members. Do not be an anonymous student. You never know when you might need a good reference or you may benefit from some professional opportunity that will come your way simply because you were the student the professor remembered.
Your learning experience in college is primarily your responsibility. If you wait around for the professor to make the course interesting, make you learn the material, make you enjoy your time in the course you may be wasting a lot of time. Yes, there are professors who will make the effort to make the class interesting, dynamic, and relevant to you. But, you can still make the most of any college class by making the effort yourself. It’s your education, make the most of it!