Tips on how to get good grades from the people that grade you

Like any academic year, this one holds the potential for both success and struggle. To help you maximize the former and minimize the latter, a few Trinity professors have kindly offered their own tips for academic success:

Sleep Well

A good night’s sleep is essential to mental and physical well-being, providing energy and focus for the long day ahead. It’s easy to remember this fact, but putting it into practice is an entirely different ball game. This can be particularly difficult for first years. As Mark Lewis, associate professor of computer science, notes, many first years “have spent the last eighteen years of their lives living with adults who tried to get them to go to bed by a certain time. Now, [they’re] in a place where everyone is trying to keep [them] up all night.” As a now-junior, I can certainly attest to that fact. I can also attest to the fact that although power naps and coffee both work their own unique magic, nothing beats a genuine night’s rest.

Don’t Fall Behind

Perhaps the best way to fit a good night’s sleep into your schedule is to set a schedule in the first place. Waiting until the night before a test to look over the study materials isn’t exactly conducive to hitting the hay early. Set strict time limits, but don’t be too hard on yourself””if you begin at your designated start time, allow yourself to stop at your designated end time. Most importantly, don’t let a little bit of confusion snowball into incomprehension and last-minute panic. As Lewis succinctly puts it, “The moment you start to feel that things aren’t making sense”¦go find help.”

Figure Out Your Note Taking Style Perhaps the best way to ensure you understand the material is to write it out yourself. Jacob Tingle, associate professor of the practice, business administration and director of the sports management minor, remembers a handy saying an old professor relayed to him: “A short pencil is better than a long memory.” Tingle also offered another note-taking tip; when trying to keep up with a fast-talking prof, write in shorthand, using only consonants. Even if you are exhausted or under the weather, taking some form of notes forces you to engage at some level with what’s going on in the classroom. This leads me to the last tip. . .

Be Present and Then Some

Attending class is, of course, important, but, as Tingle notes, it doesn’t single-handedly ensure success. “In business terms, there’s a concept called presenteeism, where you’re there but you aren’t really doing anything. You can attend class and still be pretty unproductive.” Our small class sizes give us plenty of opportunities to be engaged””and plenty of opportunities for our professors to notice when we’re not. As John Huston, Economics Professors and Chair of the Department, puts it, “Don’t act as though it’s a lecture hall of seven hundred when it’s really a class of seventeen.”

The 2013-2014 school year is sure to be quite a journey. These tips, along with the required texts and a love of learning, should help you get off to a good start.