A Professor’s Pointers for Success in College
- Don’t be anonymous. Introduce yourself to your professors and speak up in class, especially if you attend a large university with huge class sizes. I’m not saying you have to sit in the front row, answer every question and bring the instructor chocolates (did I say chocolates? I meant apples). Just don’t hide in the back of the room and be invisible. Moreover, don’t hesitate to ask questions in class; if you’re wondering about something, chances are that someone else is too. If you think of a question outside of class time, visit the professor during office hours (that’s the purpose of office hours) or send an email.
- Read all of your syllabi carefully. The syllabus is your contract for the course. There’s no excuse for not being aware of essential information that has been provided to you. In addition, check your email account daily; faculty and staff members will use email to communicate additional information to you.
- Stay on top of your work. Try not to procrastinate. “Plan ahead” should be your mantra for your academic life. Nobody ever says “Oh [man], I started on that too early, ” but plenty of students regret waiting until the last minute to begin studying or working on a project. Avoid pulling all-nighters.
- Turn in all assignments. It’s better to hand something in late than not at all; a zero can really hurt your course grade. If you’re struggling with an assignment or you fall behind, talk to your instructor — in advance, not the day the assignment is due. Professors are human too (well, most of us are, anyway) and some will consider giving you an extension, especially if you show evidence of progress on the assignment.
- Work on improving your writing. Take advantage of the writing center and tutors at your school. You won’t regret it. Learn how to use commas and semi-colons; they’re important. For instance, the difference between “Let’s eat, grandma” and “Let’s eat grandma” is a dead grandma and my thinking you’re a cannibal. In addition, ‘there,’ ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ are three different words with three different meanings.
- Always do the assigned readings, even if there isn’t a quiz. Professors know when you haven’t read, even if they don’t call you out on it; you’re not fooling anyone.
- Be aware of each instructor’s attendance policy; missing class can adversely affect your grade.
- Be aware of your institution’s academic dishonesty policy and learn how to cite sources correctly. Whether you’re writing a paper of giving an oral presentation, you must cite all of your sources. If you do not give credit to the source, you are guilty of plagiarism! I recommend A Pocket Style Manual by Diana Hacker or The Little Seagull Handbook by Richard Bullock and Francine Weinberg. Do not ever, ever, even think about turning in a friend’s paper from a previous semester or buying a paper from a website. It’s just not worth it. Trust me on this one.
- Please use email etiquette… When emailing a faculty or staff member whom you don’t know, do not use the person’s first name. And for the love of all things good in the world, PLEASE DO NOT USE ALL CAPS.
- If you enjoy a course, let the professor know. S/he will appreciate it, and it may help the instructor to remember you. You never know when you’ll need a letter of recommendation or a reference for an internship, a job, or graduate school.
- When professors write you letters of recommendation, send them a thank you note (the kind from the olden days that involve a pen and an envelope!). Writing recommendation letters is a time-consuming task and one that instructors don’t have to do; let them know you appreciate it. And if you get [accepted to a program], let your professor know. Nothing makes us happier than seeing you succeed. This is why we do what we do.
- Take pride in your work and in yourself. Don’t compromise your beliefs for anyone.
- Choose your friends carefully.
- Choose your major carefully, and make sure you’re choosing it for you; you’re the one who could work in a field connected to that major for, say, 40 YEARS. Work hard for you. Get a college degree for you, for your future. Believe in yourself.
- Remember that education is the key that will open many doors for you. Don’t take it for granted. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow as a student and person. Know that learning happens bot in and outside the classroom. Join a club, attend a performance or guest lecture, volunteer. Now is the time to focus on yourself and your education.
- Be kind. To everyone. Not much in this world matters more. And you never know what a difference your kindness might make.
- Know that you are not alone. If you need support, ask for it. We who have made education our life’s work want to see you succeed; let us know how we can help.
Adapted from the following article:
Halstead, Ann Marie Gardinier. “A Professor’s Pointers for Success in College: 21 Easy-to-Follow Tips.” Huffpost. The Huffington Post. 6 October 2014. 10. Web. 25 January 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-marie-gardinier-halstead/a-professors-pointers-for_b_5654706.html