Any college course should increase your understanding of the subject matter of that course. But there are other kinds of understanding which are also important parts of the college experience. One of these is the enhanced understanding of yourself – your abilities, limitations, interests, etc. – which should evolve as a result of your participation in any college course. If you are actively involved in the learning process, this result is almost inevitable.
Another kind of understanding is that which must PRECEDE your effective use of the opportunities you will have in college. Following are some things you should understand to be successful in college.
I. The title of the person assigned to this course is “professor,” not teacher. A professor is someone who provides students with the conditions for learning, with the expectation that students will use the materials provided by the professor to teach themselves, and seek help from their professor when their own efforts are not sufficient. This system requires that you take an active role in the process and not expect someone else to do for you what you are not willing to do for yourself.
II. In order for you to be an effective teacher for yourself, you will have to have:
1) interest – that is, a curiosity about the world around you, and openness to new information, an enthusiasm for new learning opportunities, a willingness to try different approaches to the work before you;
2) skills – for listening, taking notes, reading, asking questions, studying, taking tests, organizing your time, researching information, communicating effectively both in written and oral form, and using available technology;
3) time – to provide the opportunity to both absorb and reflect upon the information presented in this course;
4) intolerance of your ignorance – a willingness to acknowledge and attack your lack of understanding.
III. The grades in a course constitute a RATING of your performance relative to the standards established by the professor, not a RANKING of your standing in the class relative to everyone else, and the grade you receive will be a reflection of YOUR performance in the course, regardless of whether anybody or everybody in the class performed well or poorly.
IV. The grade assigned to you in a course is a reflection of your ACHIEVEMENT in the course, NOT:
1) the amount of effort you expended during the semester, or
2) the amount of money you paid for the course, or
3) the grades you got in high school or other college courses.
V. One of the reasons why many employers require a college degree as a prerequisite of employment is that they expect college students to have developed habits and attitudes toward their work that will make them more effective employees. Therefore it would not be in your best interest for your professor to tolerate absence from class, sleeping in class, dishonesty, tardiness, late submissions of assignments, sloppy or incomplete work, or any other deficiencies of performance that would not be tolerated in the workplace.