In the United States there are a few basic rules that can help you to make the most of your classes. Each professor may have some differing expectations, but in general:
- Arrive on time and be seated by the time class is scheduled to begin.
- Listen attentively and take careful notes.
- Begin attending classes from the first day.
- Attend every class and laboratory session except when ill. The Professor may request to see a Doctor's note before an absence will be excused. You should always talk to the Professor and make up the work that has been missed. Establishing a sharing relationship with a classmate is a good idea, then you have a study partner and someone who will exchange lecture notes if you miss class.
- Prepare each assignment before the next class meeting. This is especially important in classes where there is a lot of required reading.
- Expect to be given a short "surprise" test at any time. These are designed to motivate students to take notes, attend class and do the readings.
- Ask questions and express your ideas.
- If you do not understand an assignment or information in the readings, make an appointment to discuss the material with your Professor. There are usually scheduled office hours noted in the first days of class and in the course syllabus. Your Professor expects you to ask for assistance when you need it.
- Understand and be able to use the material rather than merely memorizing it.
- Extra work in the library is usual. Term papers will be assigned in many classes.
Beware of plagiarism! Meticulous records of source material are essential. Cultural norms in the U.S.A. strongly support the idea of private property. If an individual has written an article or book and it has been published, it is covered under a copyright law. You cannot reproduce these writings without permission. Be careful! When in doubt, cite the source!
- When you are asked to use sources in papers, you must clearly specify the information belonging to you and the information used from a source. Be sure to include information on that source (author, title, etc.). Check a Modern Language Association guidebook for more information.
- If you have difficulty with material in a class, or don't do well on a test, go and see your Professor to ask for assistance. If that does not solve the difficulty, seek tutoring, or assistance in the writing or math centers. If you need help getting assistance talk to the International Student advisor or your academic advisor.
- In the United States you will find two different systems for weights and measures: the English system and the metric system. Should this become a problem in classes, ask for help.
- In some parts of the world the comma and decimal are used differently than in the United States. In the United States the comma is used to separate thousands, while the decimal point is used to separate the whole number from the fractional number. For example twenty thousand three hundred dollars and 50 cents is written as follows: $20,300.50. If you are having any problems with decimals and commas stop by the Mathematics Assistance Center, or see the International Student Advisor for help.