The University of Alabama
Center for Academic Success
124 Osband


1. Attend class: Nothing takes the place of regular attendance for good relations with the professor and for ensuring that you don’t miss anything. Notes borrowed from a friend cannot replace your concept of the important points made in a lecture. Regardless of attendance policies, most professors are aware of who’s present and who’s not.

2. If emergencies arise causing you to miss a class, get the lecture notes from a student whose work you respect. After the next class meeting, tell the professor you’ve gotten the notes but want to double-check any important announcement regarding tests, etc. A brief explanation of the reason for your absence may be in order. But spare the professor a play-by-play account.

3. Be on time! College classes are more fast-paced than high school; and often the first few minutes of class are used in making announcements about quizzes, due dates for assignments, etc., before the lecture begins. Coming into a lecture that has already begun may cause you to miss important material. Furthermore, the interruption may be annoying to the professor and disruptive to the entire class.

4. Try to know your professor! When office hours are announced, take notes and make an appointment for an office visit at an early date. It is to your advantage to know your professors and to have them know you. The purpose of your visit is to have a good understanding of what is going on in class. Before your appointment:

  1. Preview your text to familiarize yourself with topics for the remainder of the course.

  2. Review your notes up to that point and identify topics or issues that you don’t understand.
  3. Write down several good questions about the course, such as potential topics for papers or projects, questions about the most effective ways to study the material, etc.
  4. Locate the professor’s office so that you won’t be late for the appointment. Remember, teaching is not your professor’s only responsibility.
  5. Address the professor by his or her correct title (Dr., Mr., Ms.) and know how to pronounce his or her name.
5. There are many benefits in knowing your professor. You will find most of them to be interesting people who are knowledgeable about many areas beyond their own disciplines. You may find your association rewarding in helping you to decide on a particular course of study that you might not have considered otherwise. It is not unusual for decisions regarding college majors to originate in a good student-teacher relationship. Many students find lasting friendships continuing after college. There is also the likelihood that the professor will be aware of special internships, competitive awards, graduate programs, or summer jobs of interest to you. Although such information might be posted on a cluttered bulletin board, having a professor who knows you may be the key to your becoming aware of these special opportunities. Should you need a reference at some later time, the professor also would be able to relate more information having known you on a personal basis.

6. Be punctual in handing in assignments! You want to be remembered for the right reasons. You’ve got 24 hours in your day just like everyone else. There is a definite relationship between doing poorly on tests, receiving low or failing grades, and turning assignments in late.

7. Courtesy in the classroom doesn’t mean that you always agree with everything that’s being said. A positive yet inquiring "could you clarify the relationship between…?" or "Could you elaborate on…?" is much better than a hostile or demanding question which prompts a defensive response. Avoid negative leads like "I don’t see how…" or "That doesn’t make sense…." You can disagree or seek clarification without trying to back the professor into a corner.

8. Grades are another potential area of disagreement. Be specific but courteous when making your points. Don’t label the test as "unfair." You will have to deal with "unfair" situations in the world of work, so learn to discuss rather than accuse. If presented in the right way, your points may be considered in the present grading or in the construction of the next test. Positive feedback is helpful to professors, too!

9. Choose a seat near the front of the class. There is a strange but definite relationship between your distance from the professor and your distance from an "A." Maintaining eye contact with the instructor helps maintain concentration.

10. Always bring textbook and notebook to class. This indicates interest and preparedness.