March 31, 2015

Get Your Prof to “Notice You” for the Right Reasons

Get your prof to notice you - photo copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

Many college success guides and blogs include this advice: "Get your professor to notice you." (I've also seen this variation: "Get your professor to like you."). From a student perspective, getting a prof to notice and like you sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? If a prof "notices you", maybe you'll get better grades, or the class will be easier. If the prof "likes you", maybe you can turn in work late or you can be absent more, right? With those benefits that will likely not happen … [Read more...]

‘Like’ is awesome on Facebook – but not a criteria for grading

Like is awesome on Facebook

Let's talk about two different students: Student A and Student B. (I know, you are blown away by my creativity in characterization!) Student A came to my office all the time, frequently stayed after class to chat, shared career goals, family background, etc. We had a very good relationship; our conversations were always engaging and enjoyable. Student A started strong: Early submissions for me to review. Excellent grades. Later in the term? Student A's proactiveness fell off. Life apparently … [Read more...]

How to Talk About Dropping a Class

How to talk about dropping a class - photo copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

In my last post about Asking for Help (it’s the new smart, remember?), I discussed that when students begin to struggle in a class, they silence themselves. In fact, they may become so silent that they turn invisible—as in, they stop coming to class altogether. Then, not only does the student fail to ask for help, but they risk a zero for the class (a transcript killer!) if they don’t go to the Registrar’s office and drop it. Of course, rather than get the zero, a drop is always the best … [Read more...]

Five Must Do’s Before You Leave Summer School (Includes Grade-Saving Advice!)

Before you leave Summer School - Photo copyright 2007 Rick Sherrell

A gigantic bravo to you if you are reading this post and nearing the end of your summer term. Going to school in the summer is awesome and challenging all at the same time. The awesome? You racked up some additional credits. The challenging? You had to miss some hours of sunshine, pool or beach in order to achieve those credits. Now you’re nearing the end and hopefully you have a little time off before fall term. Before you do a college check-out for a few weeks, here are five things to do … [Read more...]

Boost Your Marketability from the Second You Step on Campus

Boost your marketability from the moment you step on campus - photo copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

As this blog post comes out, we are getting deeper into summer and your first days of college are still the furthest thing from your mind. So, I’ll save some student-prof talk for when we are closer to that time. For now, I’m going to ask you to start thinking about your future career—and I’m going to give you a job to do this summer: (Yes, I know you are covered in sunblock, sitting under an umbrella the size of a satellite dish, and enjoying a magazine that you haven’t been able to read … [Read more...]

Is Your Professor Holding Up a Stop Sign When You Speak? (Hint: Try an “I”!)

Try an I - Photo copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

The next time you are in an argument with someone, I want you to do me a favor. Ready? Make a mental tally of how many times the word “you” is thrown around by yourself or your communication partner. (I know what you’re thinking: “Um, Ellen, a little too busy fighting here to think about how I’m doing it!”) Okay. I’ll buy that. Let’s try again: Think about your last argument. How many times did you or the other person take ownership of your thoughts, feelings, ideas, anger, etc. by … [Read more...]

Know how class participation points are calculated. Here’s how to ask.

Know how class participation points are calculated

Does your prof give points for participation? If so, do you know how that grade is calculated? I know when I'd see "participation" mentioned in my college syllabi. . . with no clear explanation of how those points happened, I always wondered if the prof made little checks next to my name every time I opened my mouth in class. Or, did my mere presence in class presume my participation? Or, was there an entirely different, more objective formula for calculating those points that I didn't know … [Read more...]

Do you have to sound brilliant in order to speak out in class?

Do you have to sound brilliant - photo copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

Do you sit in class and worry about whether you should or shouldn’t speak up? Do you try to get your words just right in your mind before you’ll raise your hand? Then, by the time you’re ready to speak, the class has moved on to something else and you’ve lost your confidence? It’s not a surprise that as a student, you are expected to add to classroom discussions, to assert your ideas/opinions/thoughts in a respectful way... to contribute to a shared, rich learning community. You are expected … [Read more...]

The Don’t-Wait Class for Fall 2011 (Hint: It Can Help the Grades in ALL of Your Other Classes!)

The Don't-Wait Class - photo copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

What if I told you that one required core class can help your grades in nearly every single other class you have to take in college? What if I told you that a high percentage of students delay this particular class until graduation nears? “Wha… what?” you might be thinking. “Why would someone do that? A class that can help all the other classes? Heck, yeah… hitting that first! Why wait?” That’s right… you shouldn’t wait. Even if the class does include public speaking! (You knew there … [Read more...]

Tutor your way into work experience and the job market!

Tutor your way into work experience - photo copywrite 2012 Rick Sherrell

Here is a student question I received in person at the end of one of my “Chatty Professor” college presentations: "I'm in an Intermediate Calculus class and am acing it. I feel like going to class isn't worth it. I could just go on test days and be fine. I talked to the instructor and he sort of said that would be okay. My mom does not think it's okay. What do I do to make my mom happy, but not have to sit through a class where I already know what's going on?" Now, I get that many students … [Read more...]