It’s a beautiful fall day in the US of A, and that means it’s college time. Not only do you have to hustle through the ins and outs of a scholar’s life, like buying books, registering, finding your way around campus, and making sure you don’t get the worst bed in the dorm, but you also have to make your presence known in class. That’s right. Professors aren’t just taking test scores into consideration for students’ grades. It may not seem like it, especially in schools with larger class sizes, but participation counts. So how can you stand out among the hordes of other students trying to make an impact? Well, like mother always said, first impressions are the lasting impressions, so it’s best to be the early bird, in which case your professor is the worm. By following a few simple strategies, you can have your professor notice, and more importantly, remember you.
1. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder. In order for you to wow your professor, you first have to be in class. This may sound like a given to some, but you’d be surprised how impressed some professors are with students who are consistently present for class meetings. They know how hard it is to toggle life, work, chores, and school, and your efforts will not go unnoticed. As one of my professors told me, “If I have two B+ (borderline) students at the end of the semester, one who’s been absent four or five times and the other has never missed a class, who do you think that A’s going to?” Get my drift? Go to class.
2. Location, location, location. It may be possible for your teacher to spot you from way in the back of the class or auditorium, but is that really what you want? This isn’t high school anymore, so you’ve got to show a lot more initiative. Sitting a little closer to the professor shows you are eager to learn and will help put a name to the face early on when calling attendance. Make sure your professor knows your name.
3. Use your words. Well, you’re present and accounted for, but now what? Speak up. Your ability to participate may depend on the type of class you take. Lecture courses limit participation whereas other types of courses may require active participation. Either way, you can put your two cents in. Try to think of questions ahead of time if you’re nervous about saying something on the spot. However, don’t sell yourself short. You have a unique perspective that may interest your professor and he/she may be very open-minded about discussing things with you. I’ve seen several instances in which a professor has steered way off topic because of a student’s noteworthy input. You can also mention current events or books you’ve read that seem relevant to the class discussion. Interesting comments like these will leave your professor with a lasting impression of you. However, make sure you don’t speak for the sake of speaking. Make sure you have something worth saying that you have actually thought about. Quality is far better than quantity.
4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. While voicing your thoughts, it is very important that you remain respectful of others and their opinions. College is a place where different minds come together. We may not all agree, but we should all be civil. Professors prefer a professional, courteous student over a loud, obnoxious one any day of the week.
By following these easy steps, you will be well on your way to a great semester. Your teacher will be impressed with your consistent, respectful performance when you express yourself in front of the class. And with that solid foundation, the sky’s the limit!