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Be critical

As a student in the US, you are not expected to to memorize and repeat information but to ask questions, to analyze strengths and weaknesses, to understand different perspectives and to challenge previous understandings. Expect the instructor to ask questions that make you think through a situation without having a clear answer.


Ask questions and make comments in class. Each student’s opinion matters, and you are expected to contribute to the discussion. Try not to be too concerned with having perfect English grammar before you speak. You are expected to be an engaged student, not a perfect student.

Attend Office Hours

If you have more in-depth questions or concerns, consider going to office hours. Office hours are a weekly time set aside by the instructor to work with students on a more individual basis. You do not need to make an advance appointment to attend office hours. If you would like to meet but are busy during office hours, email the instructor to set up an appointment at another time.

Read Judiciously

When doing research, don’t read the entirety of every article that might be related to your topic, or else you won’t even have time to sleep! Instead, read the abstract and the conclusions first to see if the article is relevant for you. See the handouts under Read Better for more tips.

Be Timely

Arrive to class on time and stay for the entire class. If you need to arrive late, leave early or miss class, let your instructor know as much ahead of time as possible. Some instructors will lower your grade if you miss too many classes. Likewise, turn in your work on time. Some instructors will accept late work but some will not.

Work Independently

Write your work alone and do not copy someone else’s. Although students are often allowed to work together, the final product is usually the responsibility of each individual student. Copying someone else’s work is considered a violation of academic integrity. If you are unsure about what type of collaboration is allowed, ask your professor or TA. It never hurts to ask!


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