Following is an excerpt from The New York Times college column - The Choice. Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman, authors of “The Secrets of College Success,” provide tips for incoming college freshmen.
You Have Control Over Your Courses
You do not have to confine yourself to a set of preselected courses that are designed to help incoming students fulfill general education requirements. As you select your courses, be sure that each one is on the right level for you (in some cases, one can substitute higher level courses for more basic ones). Once you’ve picked your program, you should attend each of the classes and decide whether the professor is someone from whom you can really learn. Often, there are many instructors teaching the same course, and using the drop/add process, you may be able to get a much better teacher.
Every Class Counts
There is a lot of redundancy built into high school courses. Many classes go over what was done before, some classes are devoted to preparing for tests, and, once in a while, you don’t really do much at all.
In college, it’s different. Professors have only 30 or 40 lectures in which to cover the subject, so they try to make each class count. If you miss more than a few lectures, you’re likely to miss out on content that will be difficult to fill in on your own.
You Are Expected to Do a Lot of the Work on Your Own
You need to be your own boss. Figure out when things need to be done and do them. The professor or teaching assistant might remind the class when papers are due, but no one will contact you when the deadline has passed and you haven’t handed in your work.
You will also need to propel yourself to study. While a recent study shows that the average college student spends about 15 hours outside of class preparing, if you poll professors, you’ll find that they expect two hours of preparation for each class meeting. So, if you’re taking 15 class hours, the professors assume you’ll be spending 30 hours a week studying. That equates to four hours a day, if you’re doing your homework seven days a week.