Of course, showing up to class is one of the most important college tips that you can receive, but making college count is much more than just being present in class. Some classes in college have a participation component. The professor might encourage feedback from students during class. You may have to discuss the reading you had to do for homework, or participate in a class policy discussion. Take a closer look at your syllabus. Chances are there is a breakdown of the grading in the class and part of it (especially for smaller classes) is a participation component. This component of grading is no joke. It can take you from a B to an A or, from a B to a C, depending on whether you participate or not. Because of this importance, class participation is key to college survival.
So now that you know that participation is important, what can you do to make your participation stand out? First, make sure you college study skills are up to par. Do your homework—it’s assigned for a reason! If you have reading or assignments to do, be sure that you are making it an interactive process. Don’t work while you are lying in bed. You can get sleepy and pay less attention. Sit up at a desk and have a pen and pad or your computer to take notes about your reading. If you have the important points written out and write down what questions you have or discussion points you might want to make, you won’t have to scramble to find them during class. Though I know some people don’t like to highlight or write in books, consider doing it. That way, if you see something important you can mark it. I use a pencil so I can erase it if I need to. At this point, you are prepared for class.
Second, pay attention in class. Many points your professor wants you to incorporate in discussion are hinted at during a lecture or the professor’s comments. Further, if someone makes a point in class participation time that the professor seems to like, mark it in your book or notes in different color than what you previously used. This will allow you to see the points the professor made in class discussion so you can review it when studying for your test.
Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up. The hardest part of class participation is getting the gumption to speak up. But knowing that it could make a positive impact on your grade can give you the incentive you need. Remember—everyone is just as scared about raising their hand as you are. You may think that you will embarrass yourself, but you are in a learning environment where no one is going to judge you and instead will encourage your learning process.
Though it can make you a bit nervous and requires more of you than passive reading and paying attention in class, class participation is an important element to make college count.