College is Different from High School
College is very different from both high school and adult education programs. Many students enjoy college more. There is more freedom in college since classes usually meet two to three times per week instead of every day. Having strong study skills is important because class time is spent delivering content and students are expected to learn the material on their own. Plan on spending at least two hours studying, doing homework, or completing class projects for every hour you are in class.
One way to think about college learning is the 80/20 rule. In high school and adult education programs, instructors took on about 80 percent of the responsibility for student learning and students had 20 percent. In college this is reversed. Students have 80 percent responsibility for their own learning and instructors have 20 percent.
Get to Know Your Instructors
The biggest message college instructors want to give students is that they teach because they want their students to be successful. Instructors are interesting people who welcome the chance to talk with you outside of class. All instructors are required to have office hours, blocks of time instructors are available each week to meet with students. These hours are noted in the class syllabus, an information sheet describing when assignments are due, how the class is run, and what the instructor expects. A sample college class syllabus can be found here.
Why visit instructors during their office hours? When you get to know your instructors, you become a real person instead of a name in their grade book. Make it a priority to visit your instructor when the semester begins. Establishing a relationship early on will make it much easier to ask for help later in the semester. Instructors are an extremely valuable source of advice and encouragement. From assisting you with coursework questions to learning about campus resources to writing recommendations for college scholarships, instructors can help you in many ways.
Some other advantages are that instructors:
- Will tell you how best to study to do well in their class
- Can help you make connections with others on campus
- Are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt if you are between grades
- May know of available jobs
- May serve as a mentor throughout your college experience
What Your Instructors Expect
What do college instructors expect from their students in their classes? Here's what they had to say:
What is a College Class Like?
College classes run very differently depending on each instructor's personality and teaching style. Some classes are mostly lecture, others are more discussion oriented, and still others feature a mixture of styles. As you watch the following video, think about how a college class is like a movie rental store.
Learning in Class
Watch the field before any football game. The players spend time stretching and warming up before the game begins. How do you warm up before class?
Be at your classes early enough to be ready to learn. Do the assigned reading and have some questions prepared. The time when class has just ended is the best time to review your notes, so remember this when creating your class schedule.
Taking good notes keeps you focused in class as you listen to a lecture. More importantly, students who rewrite their notes as soon as possible after class earn the highest grades. An excellent resource for taking notes is available at: http://studygs.net/lcturnote.htm