We can tell in many ways - our "light" class schedule, our newfound freedom - that college is quite different from high school. But how should we react to this difference? Moreover, how do we handle the rather sobering responsibility that accompanies that freedom? The answers are crucial. Step one is to recognize the difference and accept the fact that you now are the driving force in your own education and what you do outside of class will determine for the most part the quality of your college experience. It's not the professor, not your advisor, not your classmates, not your coach, not your roommate - it's you, yes . . .you.
Let's begin by accepting the responsibility and eliminating what I call the "Culture of Excuses." Let's get rid of the lame high-school excuses- "My laptop didn't work last night"; "I had to work"; "I missed class and didn't get the assignment"; "My phone alarm didn't go off," “My friend had a problem.” All the excuses do is allow you to avoid the task of being responsible for your own behavior. Excuses are not part of good "Student Habits." Remember - attitude and commitment!!
Next, go to class every day - not just to most of them, not just to the ones you like - but to all of them. And by the way, be on time and ready too. Regular class attendance is a major predictor of success in college students. Those who have the energy and commitment to get to class - when it’s cold, when they're a little sick, when they're tired - invariably succeed. So go to class; for one thing your professor will notice. For another, you’ll be “up on” everything that’s going on. And the reality is . . .if you miss too many classes, you won’t pass!! Simple as that. As an analogy, consider what would happen if you showed up for work only one out of two days. Or for an athletic team. How long would you last?
But what if you do miss a class? Well, in college it's up to you to a) find out what went on and what you missed (check with a classmate; get the notes; check Blackboard for assignments); b) know what's happening next; and c) do the work needed to be ready. If there's a test, a paper, or a presentation due - you need to be ready. "I wasn't there last time" doesn't work anymore. It's also not a bad idea to e-mail your professor to explain why you missed. In short, don’t remain “clueless”!! If you’ve missed something or if you’re confused by something, ask someone - a classmate, your Freshman Advisor, a tutor . . .even the professor!!! Sure, surprises are fun, but this isn’t the time for surprises. Again . . .ask someone!!