I am frequently asked for advice on what a premed student can do excel in class. As long as you are not at the very top of your class, there is always room for improvement. Since I now consider myself a professional student, I will share 5 simple recommendations that will likely improve your chances to excel in any class.
1. Get there early: It is true what they say, “The early bird gets the worm”. The worm in this case is knowledge. You wouldn’t believe how many worms there are crawling around before class starts. Professors who arrive early tend to pay attention to those students who show up early. If that professor is there, this is a perfect opportunity to ask questions in order to (1) clear up any confusion on what you’ve read and (2) show him/her that you are working hard. By doing this you may set the standard for what the professor believes his/her students are learning. However, it is important not to abuse this power so you are not seen by the professor as “that annoying student”. There is also a good chance that other studious classmates will be there early. Talk with them occasionally and they may share a worm or two.
2. Sit at the front: This allows you to stay focused and to avoid distractions that may be taking place in the back of the class. It also may serve as motivation to actually show up to class. I was first forced to sit at the front of the class after an injury requiring crutches. The only handicapped seating was at the front of the class. While there, I felt more engaged in the learning experience and even began to participate in class. I was also able to make friends with very intelligent students. Although I was sleepy at times I couldn’t unless I would face possible embarrassment. While at the back, I tended to people-watch, doodle, and make friends with those who showed up late to class. It has been proven that those who sit up front and center do better.
3. Stay after class: As a former gym rat, I can state that the best gains come after practice is over. Those of us who stayed after were able to perfect our newly learned plays and coach always appreciated our hard work. The same can be applied to the classroom. It amazes me how much information professors give out to those who stay after class. Remember, they want most students to pass and a select group to do very well. It is very important to develop a strong student-professor rapport since you never know if you will need him or her to write your letter of recommendation.
4. Make friends with the top student: As long as you surround yourself with intelligent people and you are confident in yourself there is a strong likelihood you will succeed. Study with them, discuss future plans with them, and gauge your knowledge of the material with them.
5. Take care of yourself: This is essential. Without health, none of the above is possible. Learning can actually be fun if you are doing it with purpose. Make sure you are doing this because you want to and not for others. Be sure to find some time for yourself outside of the classroom. Go to the gym, visit family on a free weekend, eat healthy food, and get your annual health exam. Do not neglect yourself and make sure to avoid potentially harmful stimulants as these can take a toll on your body.
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