How to Pass a College Class

Diverse group of students working in a classroom.
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Whether you're about to start college, about to restart college, or just want to up your game a bit, it's important to get back to the basics: doing well in your classes is critical for your success. And while knowing how to pass a college class seems so simple at first, being able to follow through over the course of a semester can often become challenging.

How to Pass a College Course

In essence, there are several key things all college students need to know — and do — if they want to pass their classes.

Attend Class

Go to class! It can be all too easy to not go to class regularly, especially if your professor doesn't take attendance. And it can be all too easy to sleep in or attend other events instead. Over time, however, low attendance can turn into a major problem. You'll miss discussing and learning about important material, of course, but you'll also miss other key elements. These elements include the moment your professor mentions that something is going to be on an upcoming exam, the moment the light bulb finally goes off in your own brain because of something another student said, the moment you got the idea for your final paper.

Engage With the Material

There's more to a class than just the few hours it meets each week. Do the assigned reading. Watch the assigned films. Think about what you're learning and how it can apply to all kinds of things outside of the classroom. How is what you're learning important in the bigger picture of your life? Of the universe?

Talk to Your Peers

Engage with the students. Your classmates can be one of the best resources for your learning experience. Whether you're in a study group or just connect with one student in particular, engaging with your fellow students can deepen your understanding of the course material and help shift your perspective.

Talk to Your Professor

Engage with the professor. Office hours are like a gift your professor gives you each semester. Use them! Whether you have a question about what was covered in class, want feedback on a paper or project you're working on, or just want to talk to your professor about something kinda-sorta-maybe related to the class, office hours are the place to do it. Additionally, if your professor sees you've been giving it your all at the end of the semester, he or she might be more inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt if you're grade is on the border.

Manage Your Time

Plan in advance for papers and tests. Time management in college is not easy — at all. And managing multiple projects, assignments, and deadlines can be one of the biggest challenges you face. Can you pull an all-nighter? Probably. But you might get sick, your computer might crash, you might not finish in time, and you definitely won't turn in your best work. Plan in advance for papers and exams so that you can work on them slowly, deliberately, and well.

Keep up With Your Work

Stay on top of your assignments as often as possible. Staying on top of your reading and other assignments — like language lab hours — is important, too. Will it always be possible? Probably not. But staying on top of your academic to-do list is a major factor in making sure that you're understanding the material and, consequently, that you'll likely pass the class.

Remember to Relax

Relax from time to time. Even though your brain is technically an organ, it does operate like a muscle in many ways. If you keep doing the same motions over and over, you're likely to sabotage your own chances for success. You can't study all the time, and even if you could, your efforts would quickly become ineffective. Take a break. Go for a walk. Relax for a few minutes. Take an afternoon or even an entire day off. Let yourself relax and enjoy your college life so that you have the mental energy you need for your academic obligations — and so that you can have some fun along the way, too.

Set Goals

Set goals about what you want to learn and experience. Passing a class is more than just getting a certain grade. What do you want to learn? What do you want to experience? What skills do you want to gain? Getting a C in your everyone-else-failed, nearly-impossible-to-pass statistics class, for example, might feel like more of a victory than the A you earned with barely any effort in your creative writing course. While grades are important, they aren't the be-all, end-all of your college experience. You need to pass your classes, of course, but you also need to be mindful of what you want to learn and experience along the way.

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Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Pass a College Class." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2023, April 5). How to Pass a College Class. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Pass a College Class." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).