If you tanked on a quiz or exam, if you’re not understanding the material, if you find yourself in any kind of bind in the course, the very first thing you should do is come and see me. Don’t wait until the last two weeks of the term to start panicking about your performance in the class. Be proactive as soon as you start having problems, and take advantage of the fact that I have office hours every week (see the top of your syllabus), during which I am sitting just waiting to talk to students. I’m a demanding teacher, yes, but I’m always rooting for my students to succeed in my classes. That being said, it’s your grade at stake, not mine, and I’ll only work as hard as you do–not one iota more. So if you find yourself in trouble in the course, come and see me sooner rather than later–okay? I can best help you if you come to see me right away. If you can’t make it to my office hours, drop me an email and we’ll set up an appointment.
I’ve become convinced that a lot of the trouble students get into would disappear if they just picked up some basic time management skills. These are skills that will help you immeasurably in life beyond college, so you should start practicing them now. Another thing students can do is take stock of their study skills, including the way they read, the way they take notes, the way they take tests, stay motivated, stay focused, etc. There are a lot of decent bits of advice on the web that will help you succeed in your classes, and these are worth looking at to see what will work for you (for example, here and here).
Another place where students often go wrong is simply neglecting to follow the directions on assignments. I can’t tell you the number of times that errors on exams or quizzes result from the student not bothering to read the questions carefully. On papers I’ve had students write pages and pages only to fail the assignment because they never touched on the assigned topic. Obvious lesson: Read the directions on assignments carefully!
Writing is also an area where students are often deficient. After receiving a draft back from me, I usually recommend that the student meets with me to discuss the philosophical shortcomings of the paper, after which we discuss whether or not the student should seek further assistance with their writing.
In any case, if you get in trouble, let’s meet ASAP to discuss a strategy that will best help you succeed in the class.
© D. R. Koukal