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College Students: Come to Class, Every Day!

Students, need some advice about how to do well in school? Here’s the most basic advice I can give you, which many students choose to ignore: come to class! Come to class every single day, unless you are truly ill (not just a cold) or you have a serious emergency that takes you away from campus. If you follow this simple attendance rule- and pay attention in class, of course- you’re going to do pretty well in school. If not, you’re in trouble.

It’s so tempting not to go to class. I know. I used to be a student, too. It feels exhilarating to be out of high school and to be able to do whatever you want. And there are so many tempting things you can do that are more fun than stepping into that classroom- especially if it’s a lousy class. So what’s the harm in sleeping in, or playing video games, or using that time to study for a test later in the afternoon?

Trust me. I taught college for 14 years. You cannot do well in school—at least not consistently—if you don’t go to all or most of the time, no matter how good a reason you have for staying away.

Sure, you can get notes from someone else, right? Well, yes, but that’s no substitute, even if the fellow student who’s helping you out is a good note taker. It’s really not. You need to be able to go and listen and catch everything that’s said, or the material won’t make as much sense to you.

It’s also important to go to class everyday to make sure you understand how all the material fits together. Professors do not create class periods as stand-alone sessions that make perfect sense if you’ve never attended before and never attend again. Class sessions are part of a series of class sessions, and they all relate to one another. Material in one class session may not make sense if you’ve missed what came before it.

And when it comes to the exam, you’ll be expected to understand how it all fits together. If you just come some of the time, and perhaps have notes from days that you missed, you’ll know lots of little bits of information, but you might not be able to explain the big picture.

So give it a try. Come to class every day, listen, and take good notes. I bet your grades will go up. When I was a student, and I made a commitment to come to class almost every time, I went from decent grades to straight As. For real. Come to class, and see what happens.



Writing Skills are Important Preparation for College

Are you a high school student thinking about what classes will be most helpful for college, or a returning adult student wondering what skills you should practice before you go back? Here’s something many students don’t realize: college students need to know how to write, and how to write very well. In my experience, it sure seems like high schools are failing students terribly when it comes to teaching them how to write.

Unfortunately, many high school students simply are not being prepared nearly well enough in the crucial area of writing skills. There’s often a huge gap in what professors expect students to know how to do in terms of writing, and in what students actually do know how to do. This results in low grades, frustrated students, and frustrated instructors. It also results in many students falling through the cracks and never learning how to write well enough, which can be an enormous disadvantage when it’s time to get a job.

pencilWhen I was a professor, the level of writing exhibited by many of my students was incredibly frustrating. In my experience, here are some of the elements of writing instructors expect students to understand that they do not:

  • How to use punctuation properly—especially commas
  • How to use proper nouns properly
  • How to write and use a thesis statement
  • How to organize a paper in a way that makes the information easy to understand and easy to follow
  • How to write a bibliography
  • How to follow a style guide (APA, MLA, etc.) and cite information correctly throughout the text of a paper
  • How to cite information in a way that doesn’t unintentionally plagiarize
  • How to back up claims made throughout the paper with evidence
  • How to write a strong paper introduction
  • How to do research for papers that doesn’t exclusively involve the Internet

So, if you’re a high school student, how do you obtain the skills you need to write well enough for college? One thing you can do is to take all the writing classes you can in high school with teachers who have a good reputation for knowing how to teach writing. If you’re not doing well in these classes, meet with the teachers for extra help. If Advanced Placement English is available in your high school, consider taking it, even if English really isn’t your thing. Hands down, AP English was the best class I took in high school, and it prepared me well for college level writing.

If you’re a returning student, how can you prepare? If your writing skills aren’t as strong as you think they should be, consider taking a remedial class at a community college before officially enrolling as a student.

For all students, here’s one thing you can do to help you become a better writer: read, and read often! Many of the skills needed in writing come intrinsically as you immerse yourself in language.

Also Read:

How to Become a Better Writer



College Students: Save Money By Driving Less!

The price of a college education has become a major burden on both traditional and nontraditional students alike. Of course, so has the cost of gas. For many students, the expense of getting to and from school is adding big bucks to the total expense of college—especially for students who have to commute daily.

So if there’s a way to drive less as a part of your everyday life as a student, do it! With the price of gas, you might save a significant amount of money.campus pedestrians

First of all, ask yourself if you really need a car. For many students, the answer is yes, and there’s not much you can do about this. But if you can do without, you’ll save a fortune on gas and on parking, maintenance, car payments, and insurance (which, for traditionally aged students, can be outrageous). If you live on or near campus, consider getting around by foot, bicycle, or bus. Most campuses are pedestrian friendly and at least somewhat bike friendly, and many others are situated in an area with a good transit system.

If you’re a commuter, see if there’s a relatively convenient way to get to campus by using public transit. This isn’t always the case, but if it is, the option could save you quite a bit of money. And the time you spend sitting on a bus or train can be spent doing homework. If public transit isn’t always convenient, keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. You can take public transit on days when it makes sense to do so, and drive on other days.

If you do need a car, look into the possibility of carpooling. Chances are you’re not the only one in your neighborhood who commutes to your school and has a schedule that’s similar to yours. To find carpooling buddies, check at your school’s office for commuter students, or look on the Internet. After all, if you could cut your driving time in half, imagine how much money you could save.

Another thing you can do to save money is to be in class less. No—I don’t mean that you should cut class, but you can try to arrange your schedule to be on campus less often. And, of course, online classes are a fantastic way to avoid time in your car.

Many people are used to driving absolutely everywhere, so the thought of finding other ways to get to school may be rather foreign. However, with gas becoming such a major expense, people are starting to rethink their transit patterns. If you can find a way to pay for college without paying to fill up a tank of gas all the time, do it.





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