strategies for maximizing your time and grades at penn state
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Strategies for Maximizing Your Time (and Grades) at Penn State. Rob Frieden, Pioneers Chair and Professor of Telecommunications and Law Penn State University email: [email protected] ; web site: blog site:

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strategies for maximizing your time and grades at penn state
Strategies for Maximizing Your Time (and Grades) at Penn State

Rob Frieden, Pioneers Chair and Professor of Telecommunications and Law

Penn State University

email: [email protected]; web site:

blog site:

examine your priorities
Examine Your Priorities
  • Ask: Why am I here? If you cannot commit 15-18 hours a week to being in class, postpone or abandon your college career.
  • Your Professors think you arrived to acquire mastery of the spoken and written word as well as sufficient competency to start a career in communications.
  • Commit: To working hard and playing hard—in that order.
  • Prepare: By doing your homework, attending class, taking notes, paying attention, asking and answering questions, downloading course content and reviewing all material.
  • Refrain from shifting the blame. Take responsibility. If you blow off a class, your professor can readily conclude you do not care about the class, or the professor.
  • Make every effort to schedule any appointment outside of class time. Prospective employers, doctors, etc. generally can accommodate your class schedule.
how to prepare
How to Prepare?
  • Before class read and re-read all of the assigned material until you have a good foundation for understanding the additional coverage that will take place in class.
  • Outline and summarize the main points of the assigned materials. Understand that one of the key skills you need to develop is the ability to distill and synthesize a lot of material eventually into short bullet points and phrases.
  • Quit thinking that you should devote only a specific amount of time or effort into each class. While you need to prioritize, you probably will miscalculate if you think you can resort to shortcuts or half-baked efforts in any specific class.
  • Don’t equate an instructor’s enthusiasm and apparent ease with an assumption that the class requirements are similarly easy.
  • Pay particular attention to the vocabulary and concepts discussed in the assignments and class presentations. Also understand that anything included in class notes prepared by the instructor, or emphasized in class probably will appear in a test.
how to maximize class time
How to Maximize Class Time
  • Arrive on time.
  • Turn off all electronic devices.
  • Show respect for the process by refraining from texting, reading the paper, talking, doing puzzles, etc.
  • Understand that your Professors generally have a game plan and expect you to stay on task throughout. Do not beginning to exit 5 minutes before the end of the scheduled time.
  • Think about sitting in “business class” in the front of the classroom.
  • Recognize that having devoted years of their lives to teaching, instructors get good at what they do. If you do not understand something ask a question, or request that the instructor revisit a concept that you did not get.
note taking
Note Taking
  • Do not delude yourself into thinking you can retain everything presented in class without notes and prompts.
  • Lecture notes, if supplied, do not substitute for the additional notes you should take.
  • Try to understand the main points emphasized by the instructor. He or she will flesh out these concepts in two or more ways.
  • Match your in class notes with the notes you took when reviewing the assigned materials.
  • If you join a study group compare your notes with what others in the group wrote down.
test preparation
Test Preparation
  • Instructors typically schedule tests after completing a related block of course material.
  • If you stay on track, you do not need to “cram.”
  • Review any Professor-provided lecture notes in combination with your homework notes and the notes you took in class.
  • If you miss a class, make sure you know someone in class you think is as good or better at note taking than you.
  • Do not think that you can “make up” for missing classes by showing up on the last class before a test. Not every professor will provide a review on that day.
post mortem reviews
Post Mortem Reviews
  • Unless you nailed the test, a review of what you got wrong can help you prepare for the next test. Most subsequent tests are cumulative.
  • Many instructors will devote a class to reviewing the test. Be sure to attend such a class and have your test available to see your mistakes.
  • If you performed below average, or what you think you can achieve, understand that sub par performance is a warning. You may have to work smarter, but not necessarily harder or longer.
  • Sub par performance may alert you to the need to pay closer attention in class by removing distractions.
  • Try not to blame the instructor, or to expect that a grade curve will solve your poor performance.
  • If you performed well, do not slack off.