College classes, like the mysterious combination dish from the all you can east Chinese food buffet, are not always what you expect them to be. Many courses turn out to be far more demanding than students originally anticipated and often you can grow discouraged and lose faith in earning a passing grade, let alone a high mark. Whether caused by a hard-nosed professor, a difficult syllabus, or both, the nature of the course is not going to change and you just need to suck it up and adapt to the playing field. Fortunately, the Nerd is here to provide you with seven failsafe guidelines to bull your way through the rocky terrain of a killer class.
Step 1: The first day of your college class, scope out your new professor. Take in their attitude, their body language, and the points they emphasize. You’ll soon learn what makes them tick and what they cannot get enough of. For instance, if your foreign policy professor discusses their support for keeping an American presence in Iraq, it’s probably wise to forget that research paper you want to do on the best exit strategy. Professors are people too, which means they have biases.
Step 2: Take note of important dates and projects. One of the easiest ways to pass a tough college course is by marking your calendar. If your professor gives a pop quiz each Thursday, mark each Wednesday as a study night.
Step 3: Do the assignments. Instead of complaining, spend your time and energy preparing for your class. Read the assigned chapters, write the essays, and get involved in group work. The more determined you are, the more your grade will reflect this.
Step 4: Learn your professor’s teaching style. If you’re always assigned chapters from the textbook to read and all of your exams cover lecture material only, you probably don’t have to read the 100 some odd pages assigned each week. Use your best discretion here, though.
Step 5: Realize that your professor is human. Just because they’ve been chosen to head up your class, it doesn’t mean they’re perfect. They may have a bad day, snap at your class, and leave you running for the nearest door. Give them the benefit of the doubt instead of ranting each time you attend their class.
Step 6: Ask your professor what you can do to better your grades in the class. They may love students that do extra credit work or they may favor heavy class participation. Each professor is different, so find out what they reward and what they loathe.
Step 7: Have a study buddy. Find a friend in the class and get together once in awhile to compare notes. Help each other with papers and study for exams together. The more allies you have in your battle, the better your chances of winning the war.
Remember, no class should ever be too difficult to manage and, if all else fails and your GPA is really being put at risk by one nightmare of a course, then you can always cut your losses and drop it. Join us next Thursday as the Nerd will break down the dynamics of a successful group project.