Welcome back to a new school year. As every new academic year brings a new set of challenges for new or returning students, here are some tips to ace your classes this semester.
Tip #1 Classroom discussion is important.
College is truly a place for learning, and discussion with your peers and professors are vital for everyone’s success and growth. In many classes, participation in class may even be required and graded. Grades aside, professors often appreciate the students who are the most involved in class. If your professors acknowledge your engagement in the class, that can open opportunities outside the classroom, such as letters of recommendation and employment. After your graduate, letters of recommendation are often needed by employers. Having a recommendation from a professor who knows you well can be very invaluable. Or better yet, you may even land yourself a job with that professor as their research assistant!
If you feel like you have something to contribute to a class discussion, participate. Visit your professors during their office hours. Form study groups with your peers to enhance your learning and friendship.
Tip #2 Understanding, not memorizing is what matters.
It’s a common misbelief that memorizing class material will result in good grades. In certain classes that only requires information retention, this may be true. However, in most cases, you will be expected to understand the course material and apply them in new situations (technical classes like Multivariable Calculus) or synthesize the information into a strong argument (non-technical classes like English).
A lot of classes that you will eventually take will build on your current classes, so do invest the time to comprehend information rather than cram. A foundation of subject knowledge will prove to be a lot more helpful and useful than forgotten information.
Tip #3 Laptops distract you in class.
Many professors have a no-technology policy in their class not only because it can be distracting for your peers, but because a laptop distracts you. Scientists from Michigan State University recently led a study on laptop usage in the classroom. They found that 40% of laptop usage in class is for non-academic purposes and this type of usage was found to negatively impact test scores.
There’s certainly a time for keeping up with your friends on Facebook, checking emails, or watching YouTube. But during class, the most important thing to do at that time is simply to pay attention and stay engaged.
Tip #4 You’re going to be graded in a variety of ways.
No matter what your major or concentration is in college, students can expect to be tested in many different ways. While English majors may have to write a 50-page senior thesis, Economic majors will be expected to solve long-form equations and problems during exams. Some classes may require no group projects while some will form groups on the first day of instruction. Every class and professor you have is different, and realistically, there may not be a major where you can escape either essay writing or math.
You can’t run away from group projects or public presentations forever, so embrace the challenge. It’s always best to choose a major and classes that best fit your interests and strengths, but also leave room to improve your weaknesses.
Tip #5 Learn to balance school and life.
Doing homework and studying are very important for your grades, and so is your health. Simple things, such as eating a balanced breakfast or getting enough sleep are vital to your health and energy. Of course, sleeping through an important lecture can be a harmful mistake for an exam, so do yourself a favor by not forgetting about your personal wellness during college. The rewards for taking care of yourself are be better grades and the feeling of living a better life.