Brad masters received his PhD from UT Arlington. He has taught adult classes for over 20 years, including undergraduate/ graduate classes at the university level.
With the start of school around the corner, many students will be looking to start college successfully; or for those returning, looking to improve their performance and GPA. Here are some suggestions:
Start learning early- Of students that have done well in classes, their preparation started before the first day in class. They had already had the textbook, read the syllabus, and began familiarizing themselves with the material. They also asked previous students about teaching styles. It amazes me how a student will decide to ask about their grades/class performance a couple of weeks before the final exam/end of semester. This of course is entirely too late.
Time after time students question the instructor what they need to do, after not performing on a test as well as they wish. I cover almost 100% of them with a few questions:
Are you in class?
If you’re in class, are you on an electronic device tuned to something other than the subject?
Did you read the assigned chapters?
Are you making notes of the items stressed in class?
Those questions usually address almost 100% of the issues.
Study Often; study effectively- being a professional student, I finally realized that I never really studied too much for anything; but I did, without a doubt, not spend enough time preparing. Rather than sit and quote the 3 hours per 1 hour college credit rule (which by the way, I believe is a good rule), I can tell you that in general, the students who make high grades in classes (barring cheating scenarios) is not because they take tests well or they are just “naturals”. True, we all know these individuals exist. But a majority of the students who do well, spend time studying; a lot of time. How do I know? I can look at their notes, and can gauge by the type of questions they ask. Consider the difference: “hey teacher! What’s going to be on the test”? versus “I noticed in the textbook on page 100 they discuss the different factors of Organizational Learning. I don’t see in my class notes that we covered this material. What factors do you consider important for the exam?”
Whether you study better by yourself or with others, is entirely your decision. But I do believe there is value in finding another studious student and helping each other study. Quiz each other; and ask questions like the ones that would be on the exam. For example, if the test is going to be true/false and multiple choice; then quiz each other in this manner. If it is short answer, then quiz accordingly, etc.
Classroom 101: First, turn your electronic devices off; or, only have your laptop/tablet on if it’s absolutely necessary for the class. We are all human, and given the choice between listening to a lesson about something or watching a video/checking Social Media… it’s not a stretch to state which one will win. Even if the class uses Power Point slides, I would recommend printing them out, where you can make notes and such on them.
Notes… this is a pretty subjective area… but I recommend writing down thoughts/ stuff the instructor stresses a couple of times. For one thing, it helps you remember the material by writing it down. Secondly, it enhances your study quality (as opposed to trying to remember.. “now.. what did he/she say about that)? It amazes how many times a student will ask something in a class (or even by e-mail) that had been covered in-class at least three times. While I do encourage students to ask questions about something they don’t know, being posed the oft-answered questions shows that the student wasn’t in class, wasn’t paying attention; and wasn’t taking notes. One can only imagine how much other stuff they missed.
Make friends. Now, I realize this is a very difficult thing for some to do. However, it’s a good habit to get into, it can help enhance your study effectiveness, and assists you in developing a professional network once you leave school.
Develop a healthy perspective about the value of college. College (or lack thereof) does not determine ones value, level of intelligence or personal worth. It is merely a stepping stone to many career and professional occupations.
However, there is an expense to college (tuition/fees/books, time out of the industry,etc.) so do make it a priority to give it your very best. Contrary to popular opinion, college does have a lot of good things to teach; things that might be useful later in your occupation or in life.
Develop a college life. Despite popular opinion, this does not mean honing your party skills-. Rather, it is simply recognizing that you have indeed started another chapter of your life after High School. Maintain a good diet/exercise program, develop a spiritual life and indulge in the simple things. Going to the park and feeding the ducks, or simply walking around and admiring Nature can allow your mind and soul to re-adjust from the demands of daily college life. Find a charity or worthy cause you can donate your time/efforts to. We always think we have it bad, until we are given the opportunity to help those out who are significantly less fortunate than ourselves. Not only will these enhance the young adult years, it will increase your ability to manage stress.