Tips for success
This was written a few years ago, largely by a former student. Much of it focuses on the special issues associated with taking the summer Chem 119 class at Contra Costa College (Introductory Chemistry), which is about three times faster than the regular semester. Nevertheless, the general ideas hold in any case. Comments welcome!
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Some students in Chem 119 are taking their first college-level course (and some may be taking their first in a long while). Further, summer school involves an accelerated pace (about three times that of the regular school year), and it's even worse at CCC, with its belief in long weekends. Thus it is worthwhile to think about the level of commitment that is required, and some other suggestions for success.
Prepare for class.
- You will get much more out of lecture if you have at least browsed the upcoming material.
- Where does new material fit with what you already know?
- Which new material looks particularly difficult?
Prepare for lab.
- Even more important than preparing for class.
- You will be more efficient in the lab.
- It's safer -- for you and those around you.
- Most learning occurs while doing problems.
- This is where you find out whether you really understand.
- If you're stuck, you can re-study the relevant material, or otherwise seek help.
- Getting unstuck is progress!
Focus on ideas
- Ideas are more important than facts.
- You can look up facts, but you need to know what to do with them.
- Focus on understanding "why", not just right answers.
- Be suspicious of memorizing long lists of anything. (Of course, there are some things you need to know. For the most part, you will learn them naturally by doing lots of problems. We will try to be clear if we expect you to know specific facts. If in doubt, please ask.)
Be an active participant in class.
- Mentally, at least!
- Think about what is going on, and how it fits what you already know or don't know.
- Think about questions which are posed in class.
Learn from feedback
- Read the comments on returned work, and learn from them.
In general... make a commitment to succeed, and then do what is needed. If you feel overwhelmed, remember to cross one new hurdle at a time -- and recall all the hurdles you have already crossed.
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Last update: December 20, 2008