Class schedules and formats are pretty routine in high school. You arrive around eight in the morning, situate yourself in an ordinarily-sized classroom for typically no more than 50 minutes, then move on and repeat that process about seven times throughout the day. Once that designated time in mid-afternoon strikes, you’re done for the day and free to return home.
This high school class routine is comfortable. You know what to expect and when to expect it. Moreover, there aren’t many surprises when it comes to the type of classes you’ll encounter. They all last about the same amount of time and require the same kind of attention from you. In college, however, it is not that predictable.
College students get the freedom to create their own schedule with the options of many different types of classes that they need to cover before they graduate. But the subject matter isn’t the only thing that differs these classes from one another. Many varying elements make up the final product of a college class, leaving it to fall under one of a few categories. It is important to realize what kind of class you are signing up for, past the title and course description. You will be far better prepared for the course if you know how long each session lasts, how frequently it occurs throughout the week, how much discussion versus hands-on work is involved, etc. Thankfully, it is quite easy to recognize which category your course falls under.
Go through the following list to determine what your various classes are going to need from you. Some will require more energy, some will require more talking, some will require more research, and some will require much less of these things. It just depends on certain factors and is for you to figure out before you get started.
The “3 Days a Week” Discussion: This class will hit closest to home for recent high school graduates. Usually 50 minutes long on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, this type of class places you in a typical classroom setting with approximately 20-25 students. You will sit at your desk, take notes, have discussions, and occasionally break into small groups for further in-class assignments. There is nothing too intimidating about this type of class, as it requires the same sort of regular attendance, participation, and classmate interaction that you are used to. You will need to be significantly more invested in it than you were in high school, however, if you want to effectively grasp the material – but that, of course, applies to college-level classes in general. This type of class will be most comfortable for you because its approach is fairly simple and recognizable. Here are 5 habits to avoid during class that you may want to check out.
The Giant Lecture: The image of 200 students in endless rows of a lecture hall is one of the most popular visualizations of college academia. It is a classic type of class and one that you will really only learn about by directly experiencing it. Make yourself aware of how different the environment will be beforehand, however. It is a give-in that the room will be large and a bit overwhelming, but you should also recognize how different the seating will be from the common desk you are used to. Especially if the lecture has the maximum amount of students registered, you will be placed extremely close to your peers and have very little room to take notes. It is possible and necessary to do, but a little challenging at first with the lack of much personal space. Be ready to miss some of the things the professor says, as he or she will be at a distance from you and speaking to an exceptionally large group of people. You will need to catch up on your own time, which is one of the biggest things to remember about lectures. Taking a lecture requires a great deal of learning and re-learning concepts outside of scheduled class time; so, be ready to extend this class outside of its regular hours. You may want to check out these tips on how to take notes in a college lecture before your first day of class!
The Lengthy “Once a Week” Discussion: If you are going to be absent for a class, do your best to make sure it’s not this one. Since it occurs only once a week, it will most likely be around 3 hours long. As draining as that can be, it is incredibly important that you attend each session so you can stay well on track. You should put a stronger focus on taking as many detailed notes as you can in this class since your time in it is limited. Tests will come around quicker than you expect and the syllabus’ objectives will fly by. These particular class sessions may not be the most exciting, but you must bring yourself to pay full attention during each one or else you will easily fall behind. Just think, instead of splitting it up into the “3 Days a Week” Discussion, you are getting it all done at once. On one hand, that can be stressful – but on another hand, that can be quite relieving. Here are some great tips on how to participate in a class discussion.
The Lab: Usually a science-related course, labs are exactly what they sound like. You cannot come to these classes half-asleep because you truly need to be alert to complete these tasks successfully. These assignments involve more active and physical work than writing up short-answer responses or analyzing a chapter in a novel. While in other classes, you spend a lot of time listening, labs require a lot of doing. Some of the concepts you will be quizzed on will involve things you can only learn by completing the lab projects attentively. Since those projects can often only be done in class at those designated times and not figured out on your own later, it is best to always save more than enough energy for this course.
The Relaxed Elective: These are always a nice break in the middle of a hectic schedule. Especially since you probably won’t have a chance to take one of these every semester, the semesters you do get to work one into your schedule will make you extra thankful. It is important to clarify that you should choose electives that do fulfill some graduate requirement – without a doubt, you will find one that covers a credit you need. There are two simple things to remember about these courses. First off, enjoy. You could be taking yoga, kickboxing, modern dance, painting - there is no end to random college electives – and there is no pressure. Just have fun and maybe you’ll even get something out of it. Secondly, however, you need to watch out for easy ways to mess up your grade. Most of these classes are seen as “easy A’s” and therefore students tend to put them on the backburner and give little to no attention to the syllabuses. Yet, random rules such as “more than one unexcused absence will result in an F” or “final paper on what you learned in Yoga due the last day of class” are thrown in there to make sure students pay attention. Don’t fall into that trap of forgetting that there is some work involved and protect your grade!