You probably aren’t going to like my suggestion, but to get good grades you’re going to want to go to every class. You should never skip.
Professors know a lot of stuff, but they are not nearly as smart as they seem. Just like any other person, they use simple clues in giving out their grades. If they see you in class every day, they’re going to think you’re a good student and deserve a good grade. If they notice that you skip a lot, they’ll think you deserve a bad grade, even if you work hard outside of class.
I’ve seen people skip class, but turn in wonderful papers. They receive shockingly bad grades. The professor grades the student harder because he or she skipped classes. Ironically, this just discourages them and makes them skip more, which just makes the problem worse. I personally would love to skip an occasional class, but I’m not a good enough student to make up for the tougher grading.
On the other hand, I go to every class, every year. The professors notice this, and consequently are easier on grading my papers. This makes my life a lot easier.
Maybe you’re thinking that this only applies to classes that have papers. What about classes that have standardized exams?
I’ve found that classes with exams, the professor will usually teach everything on the exam. It’s like studying out of the book. Except when I study, I usually spend most of my time just finding the important information. The professor does this for you, and saves you the searching time. For most of us, these lectures are much more efficient than your studying. I estimate that 1 hour of lecture is the equivalent of 2 hours of studying. I think of these lectures as a gift to me, and try to utilize them as much as possible. So next time you’re thinking about skipping a 1 hour lecture, I want you to ask yourself an honest question. Would you rather go to the 1 hour lecture or would you rather study for 2 hours? If you’d rather do the studying, by all means skip the lecture. However, you should be prepared to study for 2 hours to make up for the 1 hour skipped. I always choose the lecture, because I don’t like studying.
Finally, there’s one major advantage to going to class that you might not have thought of. I took a very an extremely difficult class that required a major paper and two exams. I got an A on the paper (which was easy thanks to the strategy you’ll read in Chapter 4), but got a B- and a B the exams. Averaging the 3 together, my grade was a B+. Now I could have been happy with my B+, since I couldn’t get a B+ on either exam, but I decided to take a chance. I e-mailed the professor and said, “I went to every class all year, worked very hard, and I believe I learned all of the class material. Can I have an A-?” Surprisingly, I quickly received an e-mail saying the professor changed my grade to an A-. It was that easy!
Imagine your transcript if each B+ became an A-. This would add .4 to your GPA. Do you have an average 2.7? Your 3.1 will be much better. Already have a 3.1? Your new 3.5 should get you on the Dean’s List, and it’s all because you asked for a better grade! (And because you never skipped class. I don’t think they’ll change your grade if you didn’t go to each class.)
I’ve done this numerous times, and my GPA has thanked me for it. Professors have told me that if a student is in the middle of two grades, B+ and A- for instance, they’ll bump it up to a A- for the student who comes to class and drop it to a B+ for the student who skips. So you will benefit from going to class even if you don’t ask for a better grade. However, I suggest going to every class, and asking for a better grade in every class.
If you tend to oversleep, don’t schedule early classes. I purposely scheduled as many classes as possible after noon to ensure I wouldn’t skip. Make sure you don’t have any days with only 1 class, because this might entice you to skip class.
Be sure to attend every class, and you’ll be on your way to getting better grades the easy way!