Read your syllabus. On the first day of class, professors typically hand out a syllabus, which outlines what you may expect from the course and what is expected of you. It is vital that you read the syllabus and use it as a reference throughout the semester. Remember that some professors may not go over the syllabus with you or remind you of due dates. Most professors assume you read the syllabus and will meet the deadlines listed (unless changes are announced in class). The best plan is to read the syllabus when you receive it, review it often, and ask for clarification of any assignments or deadlines you don't understand.

Make exams and major projects your highest priority in scheduling. Don't assume you can make up a missed exam. Review the syllabus and adjust your schedule to make sure you can take all exams as scheduled. Note your finals schedule in your calendar at the beginning of each semester. If an emergency or illness arises, contact the professor as soon as possible and explain your circumstances.

Read assignments before they're due. Many professors don't cover readings in class. Instead, they use them as the basis for discussion or as background for a lecture related to the reading. If you haven't read the assigned material, you'll have more difficulty following the class discussion. Also, you may be tested on reading material not discussed directly in class. If you have any questions, ask for explanations during class time, or make an appointment to discuss your questions privately.

Get acquainted with some of your fellow students and form a study group. Sometimes it's more productive to study with others, and if you must miss a class, your study group can help you catch up. It is your responsibility to obtain any notes, information, and handouts you may have missed.

Go to class and stay alert while you're there. One of the most important ways you can reduce your outside study time and show respect to both your professors and fellow classmates is to be there when class is in session. Paying attention in class helps you prepare for exams and understand material more effectively.

Be on time. Latecomers interrupt lectures and create distractions. If you're late and need additional notes or a handout, wait until the end of class to get them. If you're not sure what the class is working on, quietly ask for assistance from a neighboring student.

Honor professors' office hours. Office hours are listed on course syllabi, posted on professors' office doors, or available from administrative assistants in department offices. Many times you can arrange a special appointment right after a class.

Think ahead while working with your advisor. Plan a rough draft of the courses you'll take in two or three semesters. Make sure both of you have a copy of your schedule. When it's time for preregistration, make an advising appointment at least a week before registration and have a draft schedule prepared when you go in for your appointment. When you meet with your advisor, always bring your academic planner with you.

Make an appointment to see the professor as soon as possible if you receive a low or unsatisfactory grade on a paper or exam. Explain that you want to do better and ask the professor to review the paper or exam with you to help you understand your mistakes. Ask the professor if he or she will accept an early draft on the next paper. If the problem is with an exam, ask if you can discuss the results with the professor privately. To help you study more effectively for the next exam, contact other students to see if you can study with them. In addition, look into the learning resources on campus.