Professor Lee’s guide for student success

Don’t take it from a slacker; take it from a real professor

Photo By kate murphy

Jan Lee has taught at Sacramento City College for 17 years.

A metamorphosis can create an enormous shift in perspective: You go to bed a human being and wake up as a giant beetle. Others are more subtle: Go to bed a slacker and wake up as a dedicated college student. If your change is the second type, I have some advice to offer:

Go to class. You might think that getting the lecture notes from a missed session is sufficient. Fair enough. It’s certainly better than nothing. But the notes provide only a small part of what you missed. Being in class engages you in the learning modalities most important for college success: auditory (listening to the lecture, asking questions, participating in discussion), visual (looking at the PowerPoint presentation, the overhead projection, the writing on the board), kinesthetic (taking notes, participating in the lab, building the model). So show up. As the old saying goes, it is often that simple.

Seek academic support. College is different from the Wild West—the land of rugged individualism. In college, the strong recognize their need for support and actively pursue it. They go to freshmen or junior transfer orientations, attend tutoring sessions and workshops, and form study groups. In contrast, the weak student adopts the code of the Wild West, the rugged individualist who stays silent, goes it alone and, too often, quietly fails.

Set a reasonable study schedule.
Go to your college or university learning resource center and ask for a time-management log. Be careful not to overestimate the amount you can do in 24 hours, thus setting yourself up for frustration (and the other “F” word).

If you aren’t doing well in a class, go to the office hours. You will get assistance from someone who is an expert in the field. Besides, you score points with the professor when s/he knows that you want to understand the material.

When you are doing well in a class, go to the professor’s office hours. Professors are passionate about their subjects. Ask questions. Engage in conversation about the class. Find a professor who will serve as your mentor. Mentors are a terrific asset. They offer advice and support. Also, because they know you well, they can write strong letters of recommendation.

Have some diversions, but choose carefully. Remember who you are—a dedicated student.

Dream big, but honor the small steps that lead to your promised land.

Enjoy yourself. Academia is often criticized for being an ivory tower, a place too far removed from the real world. But there is much to be said for the tower. Engage your mind. Learn well.