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A Lesson in College: Transitioning to the Classroom

Monday, August 01, 2016

One of the biggest differences between high school and college is the amount of personal freedom you have, especially when it comes to classwork. Unlike high school, in college your parents and teachers don’t monitor you. You have the freedom to determine your schedule and workload. With great power comes great responsibility, so follow these tips to ensure that you are making informed choices as you transition into the college classroom. 
1.  Always attend class. Professors might not take attendance, so it can be tempting to skip class. This can quickly turn into a bad habit. Even if the professor posts content online, you will not have the chance to hear the explanation, ask questions and take your own notes, which are proven strategies to enhance learning. If you absolutely must miss class, make sure you adhere to the excuse procedures of your school, and email your professor requesting any information you missed.  
2.  Use office hours. Professors can use up the entire class with lectures and work. Sometimes this leaves little to no time to ask questions or seek further explanation. However, they host open office hours for students to get clarification. This is an excellent opportunity to get the one-on-one attention you need. Attending even a few office hours will show professors that you are dedicated to your studies, and it will help you form a personal relationship. At the end of the term, the professor might be more likely to give you extra opportunities if you have put forth an honest effort to learn. 
3.  Don’t be afraid to speak up in class. Your classesmight be in large lecture halls with hundreds of students. Even in a small class, it can be intimidating to speak up in front of people you don’t know. Chances are your classmates have the same questions you do. By asking questions or giving responses, you are establishing a connection with the professor. The more you speak up in class, the more likely you are to remember the information.  
4.  Be prepared to study and work outside the classroom. For every hour spent in class, you should expect to spend two to three hours outside the classroom reading, studying and doing homework or related research. You can also anticipate a heavier reliance on your textbooks rather than just the class lectures. You might have gotten by with cramming before a test in high school, but this is not an effective strategy in college. Make sure you budget plenty of time for your academics before planning your social calendar. You can find classmates or sorority sisters in the same major to make the work more enjoyable. 
5.  Make your schedule manageable. The expectation of having class every day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. is not realistic in a college setting. Classes are faster paced and packed with information. When creating your schedule, be honest with yourself and your study habits. For example, if you are not a morning person, you will not suddenly become one because you’re in college. If you know you prefer to have an hour to eat lunch, plan accordingly. Most college campuses are likely much larger than your high school campus, so account for farther walking distances and passing periods between classes. 
The more you do before the term starts to help you prepare for college, the better off you will be. It is easy to get overwhelmed in a new setting, so take time to reflect on your personal goals and what you need to do to accomplish them in and out of the classroom. 

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