Tips from a Prof - by Clark Bennett

Tips from a Prof - by Clark Bennett
Every semester that I teach university math courses, I encounter students who are struggling in college even though they succeeded in high school. Use these tips to avoid a similar fate.

1. Be prepared to work.
Students who have not had to (or wanted to) put much effort into high school get a rude awakening when college doesn't come as easily. Regardless of your experience in high school, you will need to be ready to work once you start college. Generally, for each hour of a college class, expect at least two hours of homework.

2. Become more independent.
Many of your college professors and instructors will not be as available as your high school teachers. Nor will your college professors lead you by the hand through every single problem. They will expect you to solve the majority of the problems on your own. When your professors are available, the vast majority will be happy to assist you.

3. Attend all of your classes regularly.
Skipping classes is counterproductive. Of course, there will be understandable circumstances under which you will miss a class, such as illness or an emergency. Find out what material was covered and get the notes from another student. It is your responsibility to make up any work that you miss by not attending classes.

4. Embrace teamwork.
I usually require my math students to work on their homework in groups of four to six people. This gives them an additional support system if they must be absent.

5. Keep trying, even if it's not clicking.
Try to do all of the problems in your assignment even if they're not all required. This is especially true for math courses. The more preparation you do, the more prepared you will be for quizzes and exams.

6. Don't dread your least-favorite subjects.
Lots of students are scared away from subjects (like math) at a very young age. But instead of being turned off from the topic, especially when it comes to math and science, think of them as video games to win. If you fail to master a topic on the first try, go back and try it again until you do. Getting yourself into the right frame of mind is crucial when tackling your least favorite subjects.

7. Do everything in moderation.
Balance your social life with your studies. If you spend too much time at parties and social events, your studies will suffer. However, if you spend all of your time studying, then you could burn out quickly.

8. Choose your major as quickly as possible.
It is very helpful to have direction when you are choosing your classes. If you remain undecided for too long, you will extend your time in college. Spread your electives throughout your college career instead of taking them all as a freshman.

9. Find a good adviser.
You want someone who might question your plans and asks you to justify your class selection decisions. If your adviser isn't helping you the way you need, ask your major's department chair for advice on switching.

10. Think critically.
In most of your college courses, it will not suffice to regurgitate memorized information. Make sure you read the questions thoroughly and write your answer accordingly. And whether you're turning in a paper for English or a lab for chemistry, make sure you proofread it first.
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