The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

A Memoir from Rachel Wesner

Posted by iusbvision on April 18, 2006

Every student has his own standard for success, but sometimes students give up on themselves and their own goals by blaming outside causes.  Freshmen may be particularly prone to get discouraged with their classes early on because they are not familiar with the college system.  Students who take the “victim” mentality will likely find themselves at a loss often in various periods of their lives.  Students can aim to re-think this natural point-of-view and determine that they will make the most of every class, no matter how terrible it is.  After five years of studies, this student has found the following pointers, given by several professors throughout the campus, to be very useful in reaching and even exceeding the mark for success.

Successful students must attend class faithfully and be prepared by keeping up with reading and doing all the homework.  Professor Neovi Karakatsanis of the Political Science department says, “Procrastination is a huge problem for many students!  Once behind in a course or two, it can be very difficult for even the very best students to catch up.”  Students can get off on the right foot by opening the book before the first day of class to get a feel for what they will be learning the next four months.  Professor Lester Lamon of the History department says, “Think about what the class is about and what you want to learn from it before you ever attend the first session.  Have a focus upon the subject being studied so that it has some meaning or purpose for you.”  As the semester progresses, students can continue to stay on top of their studies by habitually checking their syllabi.  Dr. Lamon says, “Prepare before each class.  Instructors usually put a lot of time into their syllabi, and there is no excuse for not being prepared.  Still many, if not most, fail to do this.”

Students can get much more from each class by actively participating, than if they did nothing more than listen to the lecture or discussion.  Professor Henry Scott of the Astronomy department says, “Contribute to class discussions and ask questions.  This is probably the easiest thing to do to make the class more enjoyable for everyone involved, and active engagement makes comprehension much easier.”

One common problem, particularly with classes that are just “requirements,” is simply lack of interest.  Dr. Scott suggests the “feigning” approach: “If initially not interested in the material, fake it!  I’m somewhat serious with this.  I found in my own studies that by pretending to be interested in material that would otherwise not catch my attention, I would soon see why the material was indeed worth my while and develop a sincere interest.”  By determining a lack of interest from the start, students are basically giving up before they’ve even begun.  By “forcing” themselves to be interested, students may eventually find aspects of the material that catch their attention.  But even if they never do develop any sincere interest in the subject, the deliberate effort to act enthusiastic will result in better grades.

Take time to study for an exam.  Students should never wait until the day before an exam to begin studying.  Dr. Karakatsanis says, “I would recommend that students begin to prepare for exams at least one week before the test.  This gives them ample time to seek help from their instructors or the tutoring center on campus when a problem crops up.”  The same principle applies to assignments and papers.  Dr. Lamon says, “Start work on outside assignment well in advance of their due date.  Work a bit along on the project so that you have time to think about it, rather than just dump a lot of information together in a rush.”

A good relationship with your professor is very important for success.  Professor Abigail Tañón of the Spanish department says, “Know your professor and make sure he/she knows you.  Good relationships always take us to good places.”  Where should students begin in cultivating a good relationship with their professors?  Respect.  Students should respect not only the position of their professors, but also their expertise and their teaching philosophy, even if it appears unintelligent to you.  Professor Tañón says, “College professors are in love with what they do.  Show respect for this individual who spent his young years in a library or laboratory!  He/she will definitely appreciate your effort even if she/he knows the class is a requirement.”

Students should practice professionalism beginning in the classroom.  Professor Tañón says, “Think about the word ‘behavior.’  Success in college equals good behavior in all the senses of the word.  Think of each class as a community you will live in for one semester.”  Practicing respect for both students and professors in college will help students form good habits for the outside world.

Rachel Wesner


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