Is the subject matter of the class really hard? Is the professor really boring?
Are you struggling in a class and worrying about your grades?
Fear not! If your class is hard, or boring, or both, note that there are things you can do—aside from studying— to help your grade. The items below are easy to do and don’t take much effort on your part. Even if you are completely lost and know nothing about the subject material, you can get by in almost any class if you know what to do.
- Sit in the front of the class– This makes a HUGE difference. Not only will it help you concentrate—or minimize your daydreaming—it is always noticed by the professor.
- Look interested– even if you aren’t the least bit interested in the class, pretend that you are. You can practice this in your dorm or apartment with your friends. This “skill” also helps when you will be sitting in dull meetings during your career. It is very noticeable when student look bored.
- Look presentable– avoid wearing your bathrobe and old, wrinkled clothing. Something smart and presentable will do.
- Don’t keep checking your phone– you can certainly bring your phone to class, and it is o.k. to leave it on your desk but avoid checking it during class. I know it is hard to do but your professor will certainly make a note of it.
- Use your laptop to view the class notes instead of Uber Fare or Facebook. – This is especially valuable if your professor is the type who likes to walk around the classroom. You don’t have to necessarily be taking more notes, or studying the existing notes, but having them visible on your laptop is a good optic.
- Ask questions– If you find yourself getting ready to doze off, find a good opportunity to ask some type of relevant question. Professors don’t mind, and they appreciate the curiosity. As the saying goes, “if you have a question so do others.” Very true.
- Go to Office Hours– Professors love when their students come by. Besides showing you are conscientious, it gives the professor a chance to know you a little better. This is a real win.
- Laugh at their jokes– This is another great way to draw attention to yourself in a positive way. Even if the joke isn’t that good, give it a smile and chuckle.
- Arrive early – Don’t come late. It stands out and professor’s find it annoying.
- Stay for the entire class– In other words, don’t leave early.
- Say hello to the professor when you see him or her around campus– Don’t run away hoping they don’t see you. Say hello. Even if— especially if—you are not doing well in the class.
- Get good class notes– They don’t have to be yours. Visit gotcollege.org
- Partner with smart people– For anything collaborative, find some students to work with who know what they are doing. After all, it will be a group grade.
Professors have a lot of power when it comes to grading and there is almost always room for subjectivity on their part. Getting yourself noticed in a positive way is a very good thing. It can often mean the difference between a B and an A. For some, it can even be the difference between failing and passing.
As a former professor, it pains me to say this, but is true. It is very possible to succeed in a class without really trying.