Four Recommendations for Succeeding in American Classrooms
1. Understand what class participation means
American classrooms differ from those in many other countries. When looking at your syllabus, you may see a portion of the grade is based on class participation. This means you should be prepared to discuss the academic material in class. Think about what you want to say – agree, disagree, give an example of what you are discussing – and be brave and brief. QUALITY matters.
2. Find Resources on Your Campus
• Is there a writing center?
• Will they review papers prior to submission?
• Do they hold writing workshops?
• What are their policies – are appointments needed or do they have walk-in hours?
• Is there a tutoring center?
• Do you know who your specific academic advisor is?
3. Find a “study buddy”
Research has shown that studying with another person or in small groups can be very effective and lead to higher level thinking. Try “jig-sawing” – where everyone reads ALL of the material but you each take a SECTION of the material and prepare notes to share with the others. Each person “teaches” their assigned section to the others.
4. Be proactive and speak to your professor
Go see your professor. Sometimes the professor will talk to students before or after class but he/she may recommend office hours instead. Explain you are an international student and, especially if English is not your first language, seek their input on how to be successful in class. Will the professor allow you to access class PowerPoints BEFORE class so you can be prepared? Will the professor allow extra time for essay tests?
With some great strategies like these, you can succeed academically! What strategies have worked well for you?