6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Classes

May 28, 2019 Denisha Smallwood

College classes can be difficult to manage. They cover a ton of material in just a couple of months. On top of that, being a part-time or full-time student means that you are probably juggling anywhere from 2 – 6 classes during a single term. Below is my foolproof step by step guide on how to get the most out of each of your classes.

  1. Buy a Planner and Plan Out Your Semester

At the beginning of the semester, buy a planner. Whether you buy a planner that's more expensive and plans every minute of the day or a cheaper version that allows you to plan the day as a whole, either works well. Choose whichever will be most helpful to you. Once you get all of your syllabi, put every important date on the calendar – include all assignments, quizzes, tests, finals, project due dates, papers, etc. Seeing all of this in one space, with dates will make it easier to plan out your weeks and the amount of time that you can allocate to each class. A general rule of thumb for the correct number of hours you should spend studying each class would be 2-3 hours per credit hour. Don’t forget to allocate time to study.

  1. Get to Class Early and Sit in the Front Row

Plan to arrive to class at least 10-15 minutes early, if you can manage. It gives you time to pick your favorite seat and settle down before class starts. Sitting in the front row is a surefire way to make sure you stay focused in class. If you can’t sit in the front, try sitting somewhere you will be able to see the professor with nothing blocking your view.

  1. Put Your Phone Away and Take Handwritten Notes

Make sure your phone is put away in your bag, so you won’t get distracted by any new notifications that may appear during class. Silence your phone so you’re not tempted to look at it when a text or notification pops up, and to avoid irritating your professors with the sound.

Also, take handwritten notes if you can. Laptops are great for taking notes, but they can easily become a distraction. Taking handwritten notes allows you to interact with what you are learning about. Also, it’s better for people who need help with memorizing concepts. You can easily draw and doodle things that will help make you remember concepts.

  1. Ask Questions During Class, or During Office Hours

Professors are paid to teach you, which also means that they get paid to answer all of your questions. Even the “stupid” questions. Raise your hand when you want your professor to re-explain what they just said or ask for clarification if they weren’t speaking clearly. If you are too shy to raise your hand during class, go to your professor’s office hours. They can go over the material with you one-on-one during that time.

  1. Re-Create Your Notes After Class

After you read the textbook chapter and attend the lecture, re-create all your notes onto one paper. This means more than just coping your notes over. This means consolidating all of your notes into one, easy-to-read document that you can study from. A summary is an important part of learning. If you can outline the key facts into a single document, it will help you understand things better and provide you with a person study guide to review later.  

  1. Do the Suggested Problems at the Back of the Textbook

Many students may find that they don’t have much time on their hands when they are studying but doing the suggested questions are vital. They help with remembering concepts, as well as figuring out where you may need to focus your study. Professors tend to tell the “suggested questions” on their syllabus. These questions are more targeted questions that you should consider doing because your exams may have questions similar to these.

To make the most of your classes, you need to make sure that you are practicing active learning. This means that you are actively trying to understand and study the material every week.

About the Author

Denisha Smallwood is a Senior at Baruch College majoring in Accounting.

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