How to Pass a Course/Going to classes

Attending class is essential to pass a course. If possible, you should go to every single class. Sit as close to the front as possible, and most importantly, pay attention. This might seem obvious, but many people go to class and don't really pay attention because they are busy doing something else: taking notes.

Limiting notes to better understand concepts


To get the most out of class, you need to try to form an understanding of what the lecturer is attempting to teach. It is worthwhile jotting down the key ideas that are being presented in each lecture, to jog your memory later. Trying to write down verbatim what the lecturer says, however, will stop you from actually understanding what they mean. In addition, course material is usually provided (and often this includes lecture transcripts), either from your lecturer, their department, or in a textbook or the Internet. Many students write a large amount of notes during classes, but have to go back and read the notes to understand what the material is about. It's not uncommon to have a student write some information more than once, since they are not processing what they are writing. If you've just written down the key ideas, however, you can still pay attention to the lecturer, and can quickly plan for exams and other assessments without needing to re-digest it at a later date. Try to limit yourself, normally one page of notes per three hour lecture should be enough. Find the level that is right for you- listening and thinking critically may mean writing down questions or ideas that come to mind.

Forming an understanding of the ideas behind each lecture requires active thinking. Try to think ahead of the professor: "What is he going to say next?". If the professor asks someone else a question, answer it in your head. If you answer wrong, try to think why it was wrong.

Your approach to getting the most out of each class should be catered to the style of the lecture (or discussion). While some lecturers will help their students avoid feverishly writing down every fact and number covered by handing out lecture guides, others will not. It is crucial that you determine whether it is better to get all the notes written down, or to pick your head up and pay more attention to the larger picture. To best make this decision (and to do so early on), think about the type of evaluation the teacher is going to be giving. Classes with multiple choice exams typically require more note-taking, or the assistance of a lecture pamphlet handed out by the professor. On the other hand, classes where the student is graded on papers or written answer questions require more of a macro-idea approach (i.e. don't scribble, think). Above all, participation is key. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn. Speaking during class will keep you awake and involved, especially if you are asking the professor in front of a lot of people.

Taking notes constantly from a tirade of new vocabulary


Cruel exceptions are present to these suggestions. There are always lecturers that quickly dictate long, complex processes and terms that are not in the course book. Many professors want to be concept based, but are so far into the ivory tower that they can't think outside of lists and definitions of terms. If this is the case, write down terms in ways that help you remember them, paraphrasing and rephrasing. If you can't paraphrase something, you don't understand it. In that situation, raise your hand and ask for clarification. In a class size under 30, this is class participation, and necessary. In a class size of 100-500, the professor does not know your name, and cannot associate your face with it, so you can politely interrupt all the time. This will encourage others to do so, giving everyone a chance to write things down.

Seating suggestions for college


In high school, for the most part, the good kids sat in the front, the bad kids in the back. In college, the story changes slightly. After the first midterm in a difficult course, or just a course with a lot of freshmen, the front is a bad place to sit. People who did very poorly on the test got up this morning and said to themselves, 'today, I'm going to sit at the front of the class'. They find an influx of students coming much earlier than usual, and all sitting right up front. Unfortunately, their conviction to sit up front doesn't always go as far as being quiet into the lecture; after all, they're surrounded by their friends. There is no reason to put up with this just to maintain some kind of good student stereotype. Moreover, there are more important considerations. College classrooms can be just as inadequate as high school ones, just possibly much larger. So you think about where to sit in terms of ability to hear the professor, ability to see the displays, distance from people you don't like, ability to not strain your neck, and ability to get out of the classroom comfortably. Don't let the need to get out scare you to the back of the class, most large classrooms have an exit in the front.