The first few months away at college is a time of significant change for most beginning students. If you are a freshman, you have probably left familiar surroundings--your home and your high school friends--in order to enter the world of higher education. Without a doubt, you will find life at a major university to be significantly different from the life you have grown accustomed to during your high school days. Your life at The University of Alabama will be an exciting time, a time of learning and a time of growing and maturing. It will be a time of meeting new people, of making new friends, and of trying out new ideas and new behaviors.

The University of Alabama is also an academically demanding place. You may have heard stories about how hard the courses are and how students have to study all of the time just to make a B. You already may have had some experience with UA tests. The truth is, quite a few beginning students do find that the academic demands of the University are significantly greater than the demands in high school. In order for the University to graduate well-educated, high caliber students, the faculty must demand a lot from the undergraduates. It is likely that your study habits from high school will not be sufficient for the demanding world of higher education. Chances are you have never studied as hard as you will over the next few years.

Many students new to The University of Alabama indicate that they never had to study very much in high school, and that in spite of this, their grades were usually fairly good. The ability to make good grades without much effort may have been an asset in high school, but, unfortunately, trying to use high school study techniques at The University of Alabama will usually not result in the same outcome. In general, study skills that have worked perfectly well in high school do not work nearly as well at UA.

In high school, tests often require basic memorization, and studying may mean just reading over the material before the test. At The University of Alabama, tests may require a thorough understanding of theories, concepts, and new unfamiliar terms. For this reason, most beginning students find UA tests to be more difficult than the tests that they are used to taking in high school. They also discover that doing well on college tests requires motivation, dedication, and a lot of time spent studying.

Do not miss class.
Freshmen tend to skip class more often than do upper-level students. Students who have been around the University for several semesters, however, have learned that class attendance is necessary for success. If you are not attending class, you will have to teach the material to yourself, something that is not very easy to do in many college courses.

Get organized.
Use the planner that you received at summer orientation. You will need to write down your test dates, dates when assignments are due and other important dates. Check your planner frequently, make ´To Do´ lists, and do not procrastinate.

Develop a daily routine.
Set aside specific times of the day for study. To do well academically, most UA students need to devote twenty or more hours per week to out-of-class studying.

Get enough rest.
Many beginning UA students find themselves sleep deprived. Lack of sleep can lead to a number of unfortunate consequences such as missing morning classes, being unable to concentrate while studying, and not being able to pay attention in class.

Keep up with the required readings.
Putting off required textbook reading is very common among beginning college students. Procrastination usually results in having to learn a huge amount of information in a small amount of time. The night before a test is not the time to catch up on reading.

Do not let your interest in the course affect your grade in the course.
All college students, from the Middle Ages until today, have had to take courses they found less than interesting. The bottom line is, however, that all college students will receive a grade at the end of the term. Grades remain on students´ transcripts forever and have long-term consequences. The mark of mature college students is that they do not let their opinions of the courses, course structures, or the instructors affect their performance. They study hard, learn the material, and do not make excuses for poor performance.

Study for problem solving classes every day.
Problem-solving classes (mathematics, some sciences, economics, engineering, etc.) require daily study in the form of practice problems and homework assignments. Just because an instructor does not collect or grade homework does not mean it can be ignored.

Become involved in campus activities.
There are over 300 clubs and organizations on campus. Becoming involved in campus activities is a good way to meet other students with similar interests.

Get to know your instructors.
UA instructors are usually very willing to help motivated students who take an interest in the course.

Learn to limit social activities.
You cannot ´go out´ every night and expect to make good grades. Students can still have fun, but you will need to learn to limit your social activities to a few days per week.

Learn how to manage your money.
College students are faced with financial responsibilities that they did not have when they lived at home with their parents. Keep up with how much money you have and use credit cards wisely. Make sure that you pay your bills on time.

Talk to your parents frequently.
Keep the lines of communication open. Let your parents know how you are adjusting to living on your own and how you are doing in your classes. Let them know if you are experiencing problems.

Seek out help if you need it.
At UA, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Talk to your instructor, go to see an advisor, seek out a tutor, and attend help sessions. You will be glad you did when grades are posted at the end of the semester.
Unwritten rules of the academic game--subscribed to by most college instructors--state that students who demonstrate the greatest amount of motivation, interest, and hard work should be rewarded with high grades. Conversely, trying to ´get by´ with little effort will usually result in poor grades. Below is a list of some of the behaviors that college instructors expect from students. As you can see, most of these behaviors involve the qualities listed above--motivation, interest, and hard work.

1. College instructors expect students to come to every class. Beginning freshmen miss more classes than any other group of students. Unfortunately, this fact has a direct impact on grades. Students who attend class regularly make better grades than do students who miss class frequently. Not attending class is a sign of lack of motivation and interest. Remember that college tests are structured to reward those who demonstrate these qualities.

2. College instructors expect students to put forth effort to understand the material and to be prepared for class. This means that college instructors expect students to study regularly and to keep up with the assigned readings. The conventional advice is that students should spend two hours studying for every hour spent in class. That means about thirty hours each week should be devoted to studying. Most beginning college freshmen cannot imagine studying thirty hours per week. In fact, most beginning students indicate that they expect to make a ´B´ average or better their first semester by studying less than ten hours per week. This discrepancy between instructor expectations and student behavior will often lead to disappointment when students receive their test grades.

3. College instructors expect student work to be of high quality. In order to produce high quality collegiate-level work, students must learn to avoid the natural tendency to procrastinate and must be aware of important dates and deadlines. An organized student will probably make better grades than a disorganized student. All college students need some sort of calendar or daily planner. They also need a system for organizing their study materials (notes, handouts, syllabi, etc). Finally, they must begin working on assignments and begin studying for tests far enough in advance so that their work will be of high quality. It is obvious to instructors when a student has waited until the last minute to complete an assignment, or has not prepared adequately for a test. The grades students receive often reflect this fairly accurately.

4. College instructors expect students to behave like mature adults. Be aware that faculty members frown upon immature or adolescent-like behavior. Examples of behaviors that annoy college professors would include sleeping in class, using your cell phone during class, coming to class late or leaving class early, packing up your books before class has ended, missing tests, missing appointments, and turning in assignments late. You want your professors to remember you because of your positive attributes, not for problems you might cause. Let your instructors know if you are experiencing problems that interfere with your schoolwork.
Each fall and spring semester freshman at UA will receive mid-term progress reports. These reports will be in the form of letter grades posted on the myBama web site. The grades will indicate the level of student performance at that point in the semester. In many cases, the progress report grade will reflect only one test grade in a course. These progress reports may serve as a reassurance and reward for students doing well, but may also serve as a wake-up call for students who are not meeting instructors´ expectations.

Students who receive five-week progress grades that are lower than they would like should try to put into practice some of the suggestions listed above. In addition to making changes in their time management and test preparation behaviors, students can make use of a number of campus resources and services that are available to help them perform well academically. Some of these resources, along with their Web links, are listed below. 

Some beginning UA students will be enrolled in mathematics courses that are computer-based (MATH 005, 100, 110, 112, 121 classes). These courses are conducted in the Math Learning Technology Center (MTLC). The Center makes use of the latest computer hardware and software and is staffed by UA mathematics instructors, graduate teaching assistants, and undergraduate tutors. For more information on the Center and the courses taught, visit the MTLC Web site.
Help with MTLC math courses is always available from the “real people” (instructors and student tutors) who staff the MTLC. In addition, The Center for Academic Success offers individual tutoring as well as group help sessions for courses that are taught in the MTLC.


Academic Advising Links for the Colleges:
See the appropriate college links at

 All UA instructors keep office hours. This is a time when instructors are available to meet individually with students. Instructors’ office hours can be found in the syllabus for the course. Instructors are more than willing to meet with students and discuss problems they might be having in the course.
It is always a good idea for students to meet individually with their instructors, if for no other reason than to let the instructors know who they are. Most instructors also list their e-mail addresses in their syllabi. It is becoming increasingly common for students to communicate with instructors via e-mail.
The class syllabus
 The class syllabus is a very important tool that beginning students often overlook. Many students find that a majority of their questions concerning a class can be answered by a careful reading of the syllabus.
The Center for Academic Success (formerly the CTL)
The Center for Academic Success (CAS) provides programs and services to help UA students improve study techniques and to succeed in UA courses. Services are free and available to all UA students. Some of the more popular services include free tutoring for selected courses; an independent study/computer lab; a video library of selected UA courses; review and help sessions for math, chemistry, and physics; and reading and study skills workshops. The CAS is located in Osband Hall. Come by, call 205-348-5175, or visit the CAS Web site.
Office of Disability Services
 The Office of Disability Services (ODS) serves students who have physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more of life´s major activities. Adequate documentation of the disability from medical professionals is required in order to receive services. Students with disabilities are responsible for informing the University about their disabilities and the need for accommodations. The Office of Disability Services is located in room 113B Martha Parham East. For more information or for answers to specific questions, call 205-348-4285 or visit the Office of Disability Services Web site.
Student Support Services
Student Support Services (SSS) is a comprehensive federally funded program that offers academic assistance to 200 undergraduate students. Students can become a participant at any point in their undergraduate careers. There is no charge for services provided to students. The goal of Student Support Services is to increase retention and graduation rates of eligible students through academic assistance, counseling, advising, and other services. For further information contact Student Support Services in room 225 Osband Hall (205-348-7087) or visit the Web site.
Student Health Center
 The University of Alabama provides comprehensive, high-quality, easily accessible, and economical health care for its students through the Student Health Center (SHC). The SHC is located at 750 5th Avenue East, adjacent to the UA Medical Center and next to the Rec Center Tennis Courts. The SHC is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. The SHC can meet most, though not all, medical needs of University of Alabama students.
The center includes a large outpatient facility and services include counseling, women's health, pharmacy, clinical laboratory, X-ray, health education and wellness, and medical records. RSHC employs a highly competent staff of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, psychologists, and laboratory technicians. For more information visit the web site.
Counseling Center
The Counseling Center assists students in attaining their personal and academic goals, thereby making their time at The University of Alabama as productive as possible. The Counseling Center provides a variety of emotional health services to enrolled University students. The Center provides confidential private and group counseling sessions, as well as substance abuse counseling, crisis counseling, and psychiatric consultation. The Counseling Center is located in the Russell Student Health Center, room 225. To schedule appointments, or to talk to a professional staff member, call 205-348-3863.
Career Center
The Career Center, located on the third floor of the Ferguson Center, room 330, should be your starting point when trying to find out anything related to jobs or employment. The Sylvester Jones Leadership and Career Resources Center, located adjacent to the Career Center, contains a wealth of information about specific jobs, the employment outlook for various careers, and the job search process. The staff at the Career Center includes a number of professionals who are available to talk to students regarding their career goals and options. To talk to a career counselor, it is best to call and schedule an appointment (205-348-5848).
The Writing Center
The Writing Center located in 322 Lloyd Hall offers free help for freshman composition classes (205-348-5049).
The University of Alabama Undergraduate Catalog
 The most important book that students will own during their stay at The University of Alabama will be the University Undergraduate Catalog. This single document contains a wealth of information on just about every facet of the University. The catalog contains information that will answer many of your questions concerning such things as student records, transfer of credit, grading policies, grade point averages, academic suspension, the core curriculum, tuition and fees, financial aid, student support programs, student code of conduct, and student organizations. The Undergraduate Catalog also contains information concerning academic programs and departments, as well as the requirements for the various degrees that the University offers. The catalog you receive as a freshman will serve you the entire time you are an undergraduate at UA. Refer to it often. The Undergraduate Catalog is also available on-line.
More Useful Links:
Academic Records and University Registrar
Campus Activities
Computer Center Help Desk
Financial Aid
Housing and Residential Communities
Information for Parents of Freshmen
Parking Services
University Recreation
Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drop a course I am not doing well in?
Maybe. It is best to talk to an academic adviser concerning the possible implications of dropping a class. Do not rely on the advice of friends. In order to be considered a full-time student, you must be enrolled for at least 12 hours. Also, dropping classes can impact financial aid.

Will the mid-term progress report grades go on my permanent record?
No. The purpose of these grades is to let you know how you are doing in a course early enough in the semester so that you can make changes if necessary. The only grades that will appear on your transcript are the ones reported at the end of each semester.

Where can I find a CAS tutor for a class I am having trouble with?
The Center for Academic Success (Osband Hall) provides tutoring for some classes (particularly problem solving classes like math). Some colleges (particularly the College of Engineering) and academic departments also provide out-of-class help for certain courses. Check with your instructor.

I never studied much in high school, and now I find I do not know how to study for college courses. What can I do?
The Center for Academic Success has staff members who can help you to develop college study skills. The CAS also offers study skills workshops on topics such as Preparing for Tests, Reading Textbooks, Memory Techniques, and Time Management.

Where can I find help with my writing?
The Writing Center, located in 322 Lloyd Hall (205-348-5049), offers free help with writing.

There are too many distractions! I cannot study. What can I do?
Sometimes it is necessary to be assertive. Learn to say no to distractions. It may be necessary to remove yourself from the distractions entirely. Many upper level students find it necessary to go to the library when they have important studying to do.

How can I find or talk to my instructor outside of class?
Instructors give their contact information and office hours in their class syllabi. This is a time when instructors are available to talk to students. You may want to call first and make an appointment or use e-mail.

Is there any hope of bringing up my grades?
Yes, as long as you do not wait too long. This will probably require that you make significant changes in the way that you have been spending your time (2 hours of studying for every hour spent in class). Do not let your opinion of the course or the instructor influence the amount of studying you do and do not procrastinate!

If my grades are low at the end of the fall semester, will I flunk out?
No. Academic suspension only takes place at the end of the spring semester in May. If you are a beginning freshman (having earned less than 31 hours) and at the end of the spring semester your overall UA grade point average is below a 1.5, you will be suspended for one semester. Consult the UA Undergraduate Catalog and see an academic advisor for specific information concerning satisfactory academic progress.

How do I find my advisor?
All UA colleges have academic advisors. You will need to go to the student services office for your college (A&S, C&BA, etc.). See the section above on mid-term Progress Reports and Campus Resources for specific locations and web sites.

I think I may have a learning disability. What can I do?
Contact the Office of Disability Services located in Martha Parham East (call 205-348-4285 or visit their web site at

My class is so boring, I cannot pay attention! What can I do?
You can do several things. First, make sure you are getting enough sleep. It is hard to concentrate when you are tired. Second, if possible, sit near the front of the class. Being close to the instructor helps you to stay focused. Third, take many notes. Writing forces you to pay attention and concentrate. Fourth, read the assigned material before class. That way you will be familiar with the new material.

My textbooks are boring and hard to read. I can never make myself read more than a few pages. What can I do?
Do something while you read. Take notes, underline, highlight, look up unfamiliar words. Read aloud if you have to. Try to really learn something while you read. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and most importantly, do not read in bed.

Take some time to browse the collection of CAS General and Study Skills Flyers.
The University of Alabama
Center for Academic Success
Osband Hall
(205) 348-5175