Prepare for College Instructor/Student Expectations

You've made it to college! You're on campus, ready to head into an adventure that takes you a step beyond your familiar high school experiences. You may wonder just what's in store when you walk through the classroom door.

Whether your coursework is in microbiology or mechanical engineering, international relations or anthropology, your instructors will expect that you'll be ready to learn. Be sure to show up for the first day of class with a notebook and pen, set to begin. Your instructor will distribute the syllabus, or course outline, and then discuss what will happen during the semester, plus his or her expectations for the class.

The syllabus generally tells you information such as

  • Course requirements and assignments with due dates

  • Attendance requirements

  • A list of books and articles that are required reading

  • Ways to earn extra credit, if offered

  • How your grade will be determined

  • Classroom and college policies on issues such as late submission of work, cheating, and plagiarism (using someone's work without permission or acknowledgment)

  • The professor's expectations about classroom etiquette, that is, acceptable behavior in the classroom

Your instructor will be responsible for

  • Being well-prepared to teach each class

  • Treating students with respect

  • Providing a classroom atmosphere that encourages learning and respect for a diversity of opinions

  • Covering the material outlined in the syllabus and upholding the stated policies on assignments, tests, attendance, and other items outlined in the syllabus

  • Grading you fairly and letting you know your progress in class by returning tests, essays, and other assignments promptly

  • Providing you with ways to contact him or her for assistance or if a problem arises

  • Following the college's policies on issues such as discrimination

Each instructor will have his or her own style of teaching. Some will prefer to lecture and will allow you to ask questions. Others will focus on classroom discussion and student participation as a way to present and review material. Some may emphasize individual or team presentations. Others may switch among all these styles during the semester. Whatever the teaching style, it will be up to you to adapt to their styles of presentation to get the most out of class.

If it makes you more comfortable to know as much as possible before setting foot in the class, find a student who has taken a course from your professor before. He or she will be able to pass along some of the professor's likes and dislikes and what the professor's expectations will be.

As the student, you will be expected to:

  • Know the instructor's requirements for each class

  • Attend class

  • Actively participate in class by asking and answering questions and contributing to discussions

  • Behave courteously in class

  • Respect the rights and opinions of others

  • Complete assignments on time

  • Monitor your progress in class and get help when you need it

  • Know your professors' policies about issues such as attendance and make-up exams