Spring term is beginning in many colleges across the country. What sorts of strategies can help second-term freshmen succeed during the back half of their first year in college? Although there are no magic bullets, many things can be done to focus on what professors are seeking so they can maintain a good great point average.
The most important thing a student can do in a college course is to read the course outline thoroughly and ask questions about grey areas. The outline sets forth the sequence of lectures, homework, term projects, projected exam dates, and the basis for awarding grades.
Problematic areas cover the whole gamut from failure to read the assignments to sporadic class participation. Some students resell their books at the end of the term without ever having removed the plastic covering of a new text. Herein lies a huge problem because teachers and publishers utilize the text as a guide in formulating exam questions.
Modern technology allows teachers to scientifically compute class participation with electronic clickers. For instance, there are 15 weeks and at least 30 lectures in a typical semester. Assuming 2 clicks per period for each student, the raw score of total clicks should be at least 60 or more for the semester. If a typical student has 40 clicks, that’s only 2/3 credit earned. This is just one area where many points can be lost unnecessarily.
Another area where students lose a portion of the grade is in misinterpreting the maximum number of cuts allowed without penalty. Although the university policy may allow 3-5 cut classes in a term, each class presents an opportunity to participate. In addition, frequently absent students are unable to take comprehensive notes.
Term papers are another problem area for some students. The course outline customarily sets forth deadlines for term papers along with suggested topics and the desired length. In order to succeed in formulating a good term paper, students need to begin research early. In addition, ample time should be left for editing and ascertaining that the student research and critique makes a contribution to the academic area.
Class tests, midterms, and final exams require a continuous engagement with the subject throughout the semester and not simply studying the night before an exam. The proverbial “all nighters” deprive students of badly needed rest just prior to a potentially stressful situation.
Math and science courses require a special effort to read the material carefully, take copious notes, and do ample problem sets to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Sometimes tutoring can be a very helpful intervention, if done early enough in the semester.
Lastly, students should check prerequisites for a course before the actual registration. This task is best performed in consultation with the student adviser and the course catalog. Generally, courses should not be taken out of sequence or with prerequisite courses omitted.
For instance, suppose that the course catalog lists econometrics with statistics as a prerequisite. The thing to do is to take the statistics course first before attempting the course in econometrics. In addition, students should consider withdrawing from courses early to get a maximum refund reimbursement.
These are some of the major strategies a student can employ in order to do better work in a successive semester. In addition, students should make certain that the courses taken provide job required skills for post graduation.
Students should monitor their grade point average so adequate time is given to comply with graduation requirements, as well as the expectations of both employers and graduate schools. In addition, students should retain copies of their best work to show potential employers and graduate schools.
In order to find time to complete college work, students must set strict boundaries with friends and associates. Otherwise, there will be no time to devote to a continuous stream of college assignments and commitments.