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about your education! The study cited on my homepage is just one example of many that show that student performance at the university level is affected by attendance in class. The quote comes from: Arulampalam, W., Naylor, R.A., and Smith, J. (2007) "Am I missing something? The effects of absence from class on student performance." The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series, n. 820.  University of Warwick, UK.
... Be more than just a spectator in your education!
    You can make your college experience a great college experience - including making new friends, discovering new academic and social activities, exploring new ideas, and "preparing yourself for your future."  Because good grades are often the measure that you, your parents, your friends, your professors and your employers use to gauge how successful you were as a student, here are some suggestions on how you can be successful by taking an active role in your learning experience.  I hope you won't be content to just visit - this class or any other! - and then move along to "something else". 
   ... The 12 Step Program to Avoid Becoming a Member of Students Anonymous...
     1. Don't skip the first day!  Bring a notebook and a pen...  The first day is often the one day when we talk about specific information about the class -- making sure you buy the right book, discussing the objectives of the course, reviewing the syllabus, informing you about where you can find course-specific materials (this website, for example!)... and answering any questions you may have about the class.  I don't do it a second time.
     2.  Get your book(s) and other course-specific materials immediately after your first day classes, and then check the syllabus for each class to see what your assignments are.  During the semester, you should always read the material for that day's lecture before you come to class.  True, some of it you might not fully understand before we discuss it, but if you have already read the assignment, you will be able ask questions about any material the lecture doesn't clarify for you.  (It helps me too, in case I forget something!)
     3. Attendance.  Sometimes there are those annoying things in life that put you in a position where you may have to attend to something else.  The problem is... you miss one class, and that didn't seem to hurt, so you figure you can miss another, and then another... and if you miss 25% of the material, and can only get 75% of the answers on a test, the best you can do is a "C"!
     4.  If you do have to miss a class for any reason - illness, dentist appointment, car trouble, oversleeping, your pet threw up on you, you threw up on your pet, you had to go to the funeral of a relative/close friend/close friend's relative/pet/close friend's relative's pet... whatever the reason - it is your responsibility to catch up on the lecture notes and find out what assignments are coming up.
    Do not ask me to repeat a missed the lecture during office hours, over the phone, by email, or during the next class period.  Also, do not ask if you can copy my notes. I don't have any.
     5.  You should always have a "class buddy" (or two, just in case one of them misses the same class you do), that you can call on to copy the lecture notes and find out what is coming next.  And you might get to make a new friend or two!
     6.  Studying is more than cramming before a test.  In addition to reading the assigned materials before classes, re-read it after class... do you still have questions?  I open every lecture by asking if anyone has questions about what we covered the class before.
     7.  Study space - have a place to read and study... if you like "background noise" - like having the TV or music on, keep it low so that it doesn't easily distract you.  You should also have good lighting (eye strain can make you drowsy and distracted), and a comfortable chair (not so comfortable you want to take a nap in it, however).
     8.  Notes... keep your notes organized too.  I found it useful when I was an undergraduate to actually re-copy my notes each evening after classes.  One, I had a better chance of remembering what that scrawl in the margin was supposed to mean, and, two, re-copying your notes reinforces what you heard and saw that day.
     9.  Studying with friends (not with reruns of the TV series, but real live people).  This can be a good thing if you and your friend(s) can stick to studying... frequent distractions lessen your ability to retain information.  It's not a bad thing to take periodic breaks, but you should set a schedule... for example, study the material for one class for an hour, then take a break and have a snack and/or something non-alcoholic to drink...
     10.  Rest and relaxation... you need them. Partying is not a bad thing... partying too much can be a bad thing.  Studies have proven that people who are well-rested are also better able to focus on tasks and retain information.  Moral of the story: Remember to get some sleep.   
     11.  Don't wait until the day before the final exam to come see me!  I'll try to be as helpful as I can, but by then it is usually too late to do much good.  I get paid to answer every question you have to the best of my ability!
     Try to be as specific with any questions as you can.  It's hard to respond to "I don' t understand Chapter 1." It's a lot easier to answer, "I'm not sure what the difference between a choropleth map and a proportional symbol map is...?"
     When you come to my office, bring your notes and your assignments with you.  It is often helpful to see how you take notes, and also to see how well you understand the outside assignments.  By the way... if all of my office hours are when you have classes or some other commitment (sports, job...), then we will find a time to make an appointment!
     12PLEASE ... Never ever ever ask any professor any of the following:
         (1) "Will I miss anything important if I don't come to class on...."  (If it wasn't important, why have class?)
         (2)  Can I copy your notes?  (I don't have any. It would be very difficult to copy my brain.) 
    or, (3)  Can I do some extra credit, maybe write a paper or something?  No, sorry... there are too many of you and not enough of me.