Academics Tips

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What are some resources available to students?

Read, Read, and then, Read Some More!

Read any assignments provided, and most importantly, read that syllabus! It's given out for a purpose. If you have time to read leisurely, do so! Just the familiarity with texts will help improve your grammar, spelling, and communication skills.

What is plagiarism?

Be Careful of Plagiarism

Stay alert in your writing and do not plagiarize. Sometimes you may read something and then unintentionally include it almost verbatim in a written report. These kinds of things happen, but try to prevent this by always citing your sources. Your professor will usually tell you which citation style to use. Professors know the tricks, and should you be reported, you can kiss your college career goodbye.

What should I do while in class?

Listen for Cues

Professors will be sure to emphasize what is most important for you to remember and write down. Get to know your professor's lecture styles and listen in for those ever-important cues. Some professors will outright say, "This will be on the exam."

Are study groups worthwhile?

Know Your Study Style

Sometimes, studying in groups is good. Sometimes, group studying just leads to problems and distractions. Know when to study alone, and when to work with study groups that can stay focused and are productive.

Are study groups worthwhile?

Study Groups

Take advantage of study groups. The interaction allows you to share your knowledge with others and others to share their knowledge with you.

Do I really need to attend class the day before a test or exam?

Always Attend the Class Before the Test

Some professors will give out their best tips, secrets, and hints during the class before your exam. Make sure you are there to take it all down. This is also a great time to ask any last minute questions.

What types of note should I take?

A Note on Taking Notes

This may sound elementary, but LISTEN to your professors. It may be very tempting to write a transcription of your professor's lecture, but what you may end up with is a bunch of unreadable scrawlings that rival a novel in length. Pay attention to what the professor says, and jot down key points.

Is school just about studying and working hard?

Have Fun!

As good as it is to remain totally dedicated to your college career, remember that having a little fun goes a long way in increasing your productivity. Giving yourself a reward to look forward to ("I'll go to this weekend's party if I study 50 hours.") makes the grind all the more bearable.

Are study groups worthwhile?

Make at Least One Studious Friend

Just like having a aerobics buddy is good to keep you exercising, having a study buddy is good to have someone to quiz you past midnight at the local Denny's, or keeping on your butt to drop the beer and try to get back on the word processor. If you're not the disciplined type, at least make friends with one. The best thing that can happen is either that that person's good habits will rub off in some fashion, or you'll look at that person and feel so guilty about your laziness that you'll get something done.

What are some good ways to read?

Use Your Highlighter Wisely

Highlighting every word except for "but," "and," and "the," will not improve your reading or help you understand the material. Highlight the most important ideas. Also, make sure to highlight any bold words that may have been discussed in class.

How important is it to know my professors?

Research the Professor

Research the professor as well as the course. Many universities have a lot of flexibility when it comes to electives or when you can take a course. Take the time to find out who is teaching the course before you take it. Ask friends who know the professor and also go to the student union office where they can often give you the information you need. If you are already enrolled in a class with a professor who has a bad reputation, consider dropping the class and retaking it when it is taught by a professor whom you will enjoy.

What should I do if I´m not a morning person?

Schedule Classes Carefully

If you are not a morning person and don't think you can make it through a morning calculus class, don't depend on caffeine to get you through. Know your limits and your abilities. Similarly, if you're afraid of walking to your car in a dark parking lot or get really sleepy after dinner, don't schedule a night class.

Do I really need to attend class the day before a test or exam?

Don't Just Cram for the Big Exam!!!

Procrastination leads to late nights, headaches, and poor grades. Instead study a little each night before you have a big exam or test. Studies show that you retain more information while studying like this.

Should I drop a class?

Don't Be Afraid to Drop a Class

Knowing your limits involves knowing whether a class or a schedule is too overwhelming for you. If the class you are in is required, then try it again with a different professor. Different teaching styles work with different students. Don't overuse this option, but know that it is there for you. Remember to check with your advisor and/or financial aid department before you drop a class to make sure you are still within your scholarship or student loan requirements.

What is a good way to pick a career?

Take What You're Interested In

You will do much better in classes where you already have a strong interest or passion. Not only are you more likely to stay awake, but your interest will most likely make it easier for you to translate your skills (and yes, all classes will teach you, directly or indirectly, basic skills) into a career in the future.

How important is it for me to go to class, while in college?

Don't Skip Class

Aside from the fact that you're paying for it, showing up for class will give you an immediate advantage in learning what your professors think are important, and what is most likely to show up on those final exams. Class is also where you get the chance to meet new people.

What are student unions?

Student Unions

Take advantage of student resources that may be available at the university or college that you are attending. In addition to a general student union office, faculties may have their own student union office where you can get information on course content, past exams, or even tutors to help you with current classes. There is no charge for the information and the information can be extremely invaluable. Plus, you may be able to take advantage of scholarship opportunities as a student union member.

Should I always listen to my advisor?

Advisors- Always Get a Second Opinion

While they are a useful resource, academic advisors will sometimes communicate things that aren't accurate. My advisor, for instance, told me that it would be perfectly fine to take an Art History II class before an Art History I class, but on the first day I was completely lost. I asked my professor why my advisor would think it was fine for me to take this class. He said due to "miscommunications" between departments, advisors can make these mistakes. Just be a little wary of singular advice and don't be afraid to ask more than one person the same questions.

How important is it to know my professors?

Office Hours

Take advantage of your instructors' office hours. The one-on-one discussions will give you an opportunity to have questions answered that were unanswered in class.

What is the best way to gain information for the class?


Read Aloud! The practice enhances your learning curve because you are receiving the information through two senses. It also helps to keep you focused on what you are reading. You can also take notes on what you are reading, or outline the book.


Explore the Wonderful World of the Library

Every library has its little quirks and amazing traits that make it worth a visit. Some will provide you with Internet access, copy machines, laser jet printers, and even personal study carrels if you apply for them early enough. Learn about primary document sources on campus, as well as about the fun stuff in those hallowed buildings, like CD and video rentals and cool bestseller loan outs.

Should I tape-record lectures?

Should I Tape-Record Lectures?

In most cases, tape-recording lectures only forces you to listen to the same lecture again, hence wasting time and not gaining anything more than if you had just paid attention and taken better quality notes during class. Instead of bringing a tape recorder, schedule enough time between classes to fill in those blanks you had to pass over in class.
**NOTE: In most cases you will need to seek your instructors permission before recording a lecture. This is standard procedure if you instructor is has a doctorate (PhD).

Do you think it is a good idea to have classes with same professor?

Get to Know Your Professors

Get to know your professors BEFORE you fail an exam and want some kind of mercy. Drop by during their office hours, or e-mail them if they're technically-inclined. If you have a positive relationship with your professors, they may be more willing to work with you if you are in a difficult situation.

Should I transfer schools if I think I need to start over?

Ivy League - Not a Sure Win

Believe it or not, ivy league institutions are not the only place to get a good college education. Although ivy league institutions are prestigious, and will look absolutely wonderful on future resumes, yet what you get out of the educators, the textbooks, and the lectures will boil down to one thing: your effort. Even if you go to the best school in the country, it won't make a difference if you don't work hard.

What are some resources available to students?

Follow Your Favorite Professors

Once you find a professor who truly engages you, be sure to take classes by that professor in the future. The familiarity is a plus on both sides, and you are likely to learn even more and create a better rapport. Professors can become great resources for future scholarships, internships and jobs.

How important is it for me to go to class, while in college?

Don't Expect Your Professor to Tell You Everything

Professors are not always going to remind you of the test coming up next week or the fact that you must have something read by a certain date. Pay close attention to the syllabus given on the first day of class, visit your professor's website and/or office to get any ambiguities cleared up, and learn to discipline yourself and organize your time to keep track of things.

What is plagiarism?

In Writing, Don't Go ahead of Yourself

Use the terms the textbooks and professors give you, but make sure you are using them correctly. Throwing in those key words to make yourself sound impressive, or to prove that you've been paying attention, will only backfire if you are using the terms incorrectly.

Are study buddies any good?


Instructor requiring you to form a group to complete an assignment? Find those in the class that have the same goals as yourself. If you strive for A's you will have a conflict with a classmate that settles for C's.

How should I ask a question during class?

Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions

In a lecture situation, it is often easy to just sit back, take notes, and stay silent. Still, if something is unclear to you, try raising your hand. If you're acknowledged, consider it a plus on recognition. If not, put your hand back down and then approach the professor with your question after class. Either way, you'll be showing the professor your interest as well as singling yourself out from the other students in your class.

Are study groups worthwhile?

Find Your Optimal Study Time

Some people study best right after classes while they are still in 'academic mode'. Still, others study best after a light lunch and a relaxing stroll. Learn what your optimal study preparations are and what time of day brings about the best study results.

How and when should I ask a professor for an extension?

Extensions Exist!

Most professors are willing to give you some slack (unless they look and act militant or lack a sense of humor and basic facial expressions). While teacher assistants may not always be as compensating, most professors will hear you out since they will be more willing to read a late paper than an illegible one made from a printer with only two drops of ink. But as usual, don't abuse the privilege, and prove that you deserved that extenstion.
**Note: Always discuss a potentially late assignment with your instructor before it is late.

What do you think about taking English or Literature classes?

On Literature Courses

For you English majors and/or literature enthusiasts out there, do NOT take more than two literature classes in one semester (unless they are your only two classes). Literature classes are notorious for requiring a plethora of readings, usually several novels, poems and essays, not to mention any quizzes, papers, etc, all with a need for thorough knowledge and retention. Don't overdo it or you may overwhelm yourself.

Should I transfer schools if I think I need to start over?

Tranferring Schools Won't Solve Everything

You can't run away from your problems by transferring. Whatever happened at that other school, changing your environment will only make things worse if you don't change your behavior. Academic records follow you, as do those bad habits if you don't tackle them face to face.

What are some resources available to students?

Use Your Resources Well

Explore the world of student services. If you're having trouble in class, visit your professor in his/her office during office hours or make an appointment. If your professor gives you more pain than help, visit your academic advisor and let them know.

Most schools will have other services that will be of great assistance to you. Many institutions have career development centers, free counseling services, scholarship information, tutoring, and other services. Take advantage of all the resources you have, and get to know them well.

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Jerry Mayo