Good Class Habits

An important aspect of being academically successful is that of developing good class habits.  The more effectively you use your time in class, the easier it will be to study well and learn the information.

The first step in good class habits is to go to classevery class, every day!  If you miss class, you miss the information, you miss the questions that are asked & answered, you miss the chance to interact with your instructor and peers!  Rarely can you read the text and copy someone else’s notes and have an experience equivalent to being there.

Go early enough to review your notes from the previous class so you’ll be mentally prepared.  It’s a good bet that this day’s class will have a connection to the previous lesson, so remind yourself of what happened the day before. Quiz yourself on any homework you had, any videos you watched, or what was discussed in your study group.  It’s almost impossible to get the most important points of a class when you don’t have any idea what will be presented, so be ready!

Choose your seat wisely.  Sitting close to the instructor helps to keep you focused and assures that you can see and hear everything, it also helps eliminate the distractions caused by other students and their bad habits.  Often the students sitting near the instructor are those that are more engaged and this is where you want to be!  If you know you will arrive late or will need to leave early, sit in a place that you will not distract others, maybe to the sides or back of the class.

You need to be fully engaged in the class. 

  • Turn off your phone and put it away. Professors are miserly with their time; they have a lot of information to impart and a limited amount of time to deliver it and so they choose their words, phrasing, activities and organization carefully. You’d be surprised at how much you miss if you’re distracted.
  • Ditto for your computer: if you’re not required to use it for the class, put it away! If you are required to use an electronic device as part of the class activities, be careful to stay on task and not be tempted to wander onto non-course related pages.
  • Learn to take good notes so that you will have a written record of what transpired during class.
  • Check your attention so that you don’t allow your mind to wander. If your focus lags, you need to develop ways to bring yourself back to the moment.

Take the time to meet people who sit near you, they will prove to be a good “investment” in your success.  Each person you meet could become a good friend, a mentor, a study partner, or a note-taker when you’re sick.

Find an efficient, effective note-taking style and become adept at using it!  Generally speaking, there are five different methods for taking notes, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.  It’s worth your time to find one that you can use well.  Try out different methods of taking notes and see what works for you – there will be some that you KNOW won’t work and you can skip those right away! And for those of you who like to take notes on your computer? New research demonstrates that students are more successful when they take notes by hand.

Immediately, or as soon as possible, after class you need to review your class notes to get them into your head.  Find a quiet place to sit down and look over what you’ve written.  Take notes on your notes so that you’re better prepared for efficient study when you come back to them later in the day.  Make sure you highlight new vocabulary, terms or concepts that aren’t clear, and assignments or suggestions that were given by the instructor.  Close your eyes and try to recall the most important points of the class.  If you can’t, you need to review your notes to learn them.  If you don’t have time because you need to go directly to another class or work, review the class in your head as you walk to your next appointment (What were the most important points? What surprised or interested you?  How did this class lesson connect to the previous lesson?).

Making the most of your time in class will help you make the most of your study time and move you in the direction of content mastery!