Faculty Tips On How to Succeed in The Human Situation

For reading | For lecture | For discussion section | For paper writing

For midterm examination | For oral final |  For worst-case scenarios

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For reading:

  • Keep up with the reading! It's very hard to make this up later.
  • Highlight the things you don’t understand or whatever seems most important.

  • Have the reading done by the lecture. You’ll get more out of it!

  • If you can’t get every page read by discussion section, read a part of it well.  That way you’ll have something to say at least and can follow the discussion.

  • Make sure to finish the reading no matter what—some things appear on tests that are not mentioned in class or lecture.

  • Review your reading briefly after lecture or section. This helps your recollection.

  • As the semester advances, try to relate the readings to each other.  This will help a great deal to recall and master the material.

  • For lecture:

  • Take notes on the outline of the lecture rather than trying to get every single detail.

  • Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other students or by your own electronics.

  • Wait for the pauses in the lecture before asking questions—sometimes your question has been anticipated and will be answered before you ask it.  Interrupting a lecturer can throw off his/her rhythm.

  • Think of things in lecture that you would like to discuss or have explained in discussion section. Make a note of such things.

  • Think of what you would say if you had to give a lecture on this material.

  • If you like a certain lecture, tell the lecturer.  (You have no idea how hard it can be to judge how we are doing by the looks on your faces.)

  • Never, ever, EVER miss a lecture. 

  • For discussion section:

  • Come to class with something to say—a question, a comment about the lecture or the book, a burgeoning idea.

  • Remember the section time is for the students: make it work for you and your classmates. 

  • Professors talk  a lot.  Relieve them of this burden by taking over.  You can even ask questions of your fellow students without the professor’s prompting!

  • Try to connect with fellow students—a network of friends is a great way to study, make up lost notes, or brainstorm for papers.

  • Never, ever, EVER miss a discussion section.

  • For paper writing:

  • Do not put off writing the paper until the last day.

  • Think immediately about your paper whenever you get a prompt. Begin the outline.

  • Do not put off writing the paper until the last day.

  • Remember your professor is your teacher, not your copy editor.  Have your paper proofread before you hand it in.

  • Do not put off writing the paper until the last day.

  • Make use of the professor’s office hours: go and talk about your paper.  It always helps .

  • Do not put off writing the paper until the last day.

  • Anticipate your computer needs.  Computer labs are packed on due days, and printers don’t always work.  Have a backup and a back up plan.

  • Do not put off writing the paper until the last day.
  • For the midterm:

  • Identifying passages is not difficult if you’ve done the reading. 
  • Remember “short” ids require at least three sentences.  Details, like names and dates, always impress us.  Vagueness is BAD.
  • Group study can be a fun and relaxing way to prepare for the midterm.
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    For the oral final examination:

  • If you have followed all of the above advice, a great deal of your preparation will already be done.
  • Form a study group with a few friends to review the material and practice asking and answering each other questions.  (Your study group probably shouldn’t be so large that you never get to talk!  Form sub-committees.)
  • A good way to get started studying is to see if you can think of three important things we discussed about each text (i.e., themes, motifs, arguments) as well as three important passages from each text. 
  • If you’re a little nervous, it’s okay.  We don’t grade you on poise, but on what you know.
  • An exam that is going particularly well will often take the form of a conversation rather than an interrogation.  An informed and broad-ranging discussion between two engaged and thoughtful people is our ideal here.
  •  Worst-case scenarios:

  • Always contact your professor when you must be absent. 
  • Always keep in touch with your professor when family emergencies require prolonged absences.
  • Honors Professors cannot post bail.