Prepare for class: To succeed in any academic course, it is crucial to come to class fully prepared.
Depending upon the specific instructor and course matter, preparation may look vastly
different. However, reading the assigned material, completing required writing assignments,
and reviewing the syllabus are good practices for success in any academic course.
Ask questions: Part of taking ownership of your academic success involves assessing what parts
of the course make sense and what parts need clarity. During and following each class,
it is important to always ask questions. For example, if an assignment seems unclear,
ask the instructor either during class, office hours or perhaps by email. Similarly,
ask questions if there are concept, topics, or course-related ideas that need clarity;
instructors expect you to do so.
Take notes: During class, be prepared to take notes. As you follow along with the particular
lesson or lecture, take notes in the way that works best for you, including writing
in an outline form, typing on a computer/lap top, or printing course materials beforehand.
Be as thorough or simple as works for you, with the intent to leave class with a
tangible form of the concepts covered.
Note: Always take notes of material that the instructor repeats; if he/she mentions the
information multiple times, it is important. Also, take notes of anything the instructor
writes on the board or overhead. Again, if the instructor is taking the time to
write something down in front of the class, it is important.
Get to know your classmates: Within the first few days of the term/semester, make a point to get to know your
fellow classmates. Many instructors utilize group work and peer editing and expect
that you will feel relatively comfortable interacting with your peers. This can also
be advantageous if you are absent for a class or are interested in creating a study
group. Be open to share with your peers, allowing them to get to know you and your
writing, and taking time to get to know them. Perhaps you will even make a new friend!
Take responsibility for your grade: In college-level courses, instructors expect that students are able and willing
to take ownership of their education. Thus, students are expected to know and understand
the syllabus and corresponding assignments as well as track the status of their grade
regularly throughout the semester. Doing so will enable you to see how every assignment,
class discussion, paper and quiz impacts your grade, ultimately empowering you as
Familiarize yourself with technology: Most courses and instructors rely upon varying degrees of technology, both in and
outside the classroom. In many cases, this entails regular and speedy use of computer
programs such as Microsoft word or PowerPoint. Writing academic papers requires understanding
the various formats of APA and MLA, as well as the more basic tools of spell check,
word count, and font. In addition, many instructors utilize college-specific online
forums for posting grades, content, and facilitating discussion. Because courses
are designed to cover specific content (such as composition, sociology, or psychology),
instructors expect that you are proficient in using computers.