So you’ve made the horrible decision of actually being productive this summer. We all sign up for summer semesters with big dreams in our eyes. “I’m getting a 4.0 this summer,” “It’s only one class, how hard could it be?” or my personal favorite, “I’m not skipping a single class this time,” then BOOM, the first day of class rolls around and you realize the gravity of the summer-ruining decision you’ve made. As the summer rolls on and you watch your friends go out every night while you stay home cramming for your classes, it’s easy to start letting those grades slip or deciding it’s okay to sleep through a few of your classes. This is where I come in. I’ve been taking summer classes since summers were invented. Not only can you take these classes, you can ace them!
1. Sit Near the Front
Notice I didn’t say, “sit in the front row,” because come on, that’s intense. (Unless you’re one of the kids who always heads straight for the front row, in which case more power to you!) But if you’re a repeat offender of the “stumbles in five minutes late and sits in the back row routine” like I am, this one’s for you. I know it’s awkward up near the front for us back-row folk. On your first day in front-row life, you may experience questions such as “Why can’t I stop making eye contact with my professor,” “How many times can I pull out my phone before the professor tries to punch me,” or “How am I supposed to take my nap with all this learning happening around me?” These are valid and important questions, but think of it this way: if you sit in the front, you’re less likely to come in late because you know all eyes are on you. Also, sitting near the front means the professor will actually know you exist, and when it comes time to give grades, professors are much more likely to help you instead of the kid sleeping in the back of the lecture.
2. Don’t Skip Class
Do I really even have to say it? Okay, fine, I will, because the most obvious tip is the hardest to follow. Go to every class. I know, deep down inside we all know we’re supposed to follow this rule, but during summer classes it’s more important than any other time. It’s not like I’m telling you to do something crazy like never skip a SINGLE class during your fall or spring semester; but if you want an A in your summer classes, you have to show up every day.
3. Make friends in the class.
The best way to succeed in any college class is to make friends with the kids around you. All you have to do is start a conversation with whoever is sitting next to you on the first day of class, then ask if they want to exchange numbers in case either one of you need help with the material. Using a special balance of super casual small talk and slightly forceful phone-number requesting you’re already on your way to an A. This way you have someone you can text to find out if the homework really is due tomorrow or you can spend another night binge watching Netflix. Plus, it doesn’t hurt, unless you choose to sit next to a total weirdo. You might actually become friends with that person, making your summer torture session slightly more enjoyable.
4. Talk to Your Professor.
We’ve all heard this one before – it’s old, but gold. I can imagine you rolling your eyes at me as I type this now, but bear with me. Like I mentioned before, one of the key elements to acing summer classes is showing the professor you EXIST. If you start to feel lost about something he’s going over in class, don’t just tell yourself you’ll go home and figure it out later; go to those office hours. I know it seems awkward, and you’d much rather go about your life unnoticed by the professor, but if you’re having trouble in the class, this is the smart thing to do. Until you make yourself a familiar face, you’re nothing but a name on an attendance sheet. Humanize yourself, and when it comes time to give grades, maybe he’ll imagine your puppy-dog eyes standing in his office and bump that B to an A.
5. Put Your Phone Away
Let me set a scene for you. Imagine yourself sitting in class, taking notes, answering questions, soaking up knowledge, until you spy your phone light up from the corner of your eye. Next thing you know, you look up from your phone and realize you have no idea what the professor's talking about and you've been Facebook stalking some girl you're never going to meet’s family vacation in Cancun album for the past 25 minutes. Even if you only picked up your phone to respond to your friend's text about going out tonight, your brain is now flooded with thoughts like, "Where are we going tonight?” "What should I wear?" "Is it too late to cancel and just stay home watching Netflix?" and it's impossible to really learn everything the professor is teaching you. Do yourself a huge favor and put your phone away during class. If you don't even think you can make a commitment like that, just try it for one class, and see how much easier it is to focus.