Some classes are super easy, some are alright if you put the work in, and some seem just downright impossible to do well in. For any and all of these, we want to get the highest grade we possibly can, but sometimes we forget about little tips and tricks that can help us out along the way.
1. Make Connections in Class
Not everyone takes advantage of the other students in their classroom, but they can provide us (and vice versa) valuable points of view that help us with the subject. Typically, it’s been said that the students who sit at the front of the class are the most attentive, know what’s going on, and perform the best. So why not start sitting in the front of the class and chatting with these students? If it seems this way, there’s no underlying manipulation about it.
Everyone is in class to do the best they can, and they can use your knowledge just as well as you can use theirs, so work together! Buddy-up for open-work homework and quizzes and chat about the subject after class. And if you don’t understand something, ask your new friend. They may know. They might not know either, which would be a good time to go visit your professor, bringing us to the next topic.
2. Visit Your Professor
I will admit that I did not visit any of my professors the whole first year of college because I didn’t get the point. “What will I even talk about with them? They don’t want to see me. It’s going to look like I’m trying to be teacher’s pet or something.” I had all these thoughts. But truly, your professor does want to see you, they want to get to know you, they want to know how you like the class, and they WANT to help you if you’re struggling.
If you can’t think of something to ask them during their office hours, find out if they have written a blog or even a book, and go read it. It doesn’t have to be from start to end, but find the publication and read a little about it. Then go and ask them, “Hey, I’m enjoying your blog/book/article. What inspired you to write this?” Now you’ll get a chance to see that your professor is much more than just a professor – they have many stories to tell, and you’ll be lucky enough to hear one of them and the wisdom that comes from it. Doing all this is not to suck up to the professor, but instead to grow interest in them, and in effect, their subject as well. And when there is interest, learning is a lot easier.
3. Bring Your Caffeine of Choice
Within reason, bring some sort of tea, coffee, or energy drink to class to help you stay not only awake, but alert. “Within reason” was to suggest not bringing four Starbucks Doubleshots – that’s going overboard. But it’s important to be alert during class.
Every so often, professors drop hints on what is important to study and what isn’t. You want to catch those, as they’ll save you a lot of time when preparing for exams. Paying more attention in class helps with developing interest and questions and avoids falling behind.
4. Start Homework Early
Everyone keeps a busy schedule, but even just starting the first problem of class homework helps immensely. For one, it reinforces the lessons from class, giving you more practice with the subject and serving as an extra study technique. Second, when you work one problem a day, or one every couple hours, you will completely avoid the stressful last-minute before it’s time to turn it in. And third, as you work and develop questions, this provides another opportunity to go visit your professor and ask them for help or clarification. You may impress them with how early you are working on it.
These tips were gathered from my own experience and the experience of friends and family members. They have worked for us, so give them a try! You will be pleased with the improvement.
Angela Coquis is a junior at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is majoring in Management Information Systems and wants to live abroad and pursue a career in database management. She enjoys Virtual Campus and her dream job is owning a bakery.