Ten General Survival Tips: (Good
for nearly any class)
In the paraphrased words of Ben Franklin: "We must hang together,
or assuredly we will hang separately." Fellow classmates are
a student's greatest resource. Trade phone numbers with at
least three other students in the class. If you miss a class,
make arrangements with them to get copies of assignments or
handouts you may have missed. If you know you will miss a
class, have them turn in assignments for you, or else finish
the work early, so you can submit it to me during the previous
(2) Make backup copies of everything.
I do not want to hear that the computer ate your essay. Assume
that one of your regular assignments is to duplicate your
essay on a separate computer disk or make a xerox copy of
the paper before you submit it to me. Assume that one of your
regular assignments is to keep an archived copy of any papers
I return to you in case there is any confusion about the grade
on that assignment.
(3) Become familiar with an
e-mail program. If you are new to e-mail, I am familiar with
Pine, Mail, Outlook Express, and Carson-Newman's webmail,
and I may be able to answer your questions concerning them.
I am less familiar with Eudora and other programs.
(4) Keep copies of all the e-mail
exchanges in class. If your server is set up to delete old
messages after a set period of time, use a program like Fetch
to retrieve the messages onto a 3.5-inch computer disk, or
save them to a disk as you read and send them. Students in
composition classes may be required to submit hard copies
of them in their portfolio.
(5) Set up appointments or conferences
with me early in the term to discuss your papers. If you do
not understand one of my comments, come see me. While there
is little time to deal with each essay's content or grammar
in the classroom itself, I am more than happy to discuss these
in my office. Besides any mandatory conferences to discuss
a paper, it is also a good idea to stop by for suggestions
on other papers in progress. You can also download a list
of the abbreviations I use for marking papers here.
This is a crude PDF image and won't be terribly legible on
a computer screen, but if you print it out it should be quite
(6) Please bring the
textbook for that day's reading and your course packet with
you to class. We won't use these materials everyday, but there
will come times when I will refer you to a specific passage
in an essay or a specific handout in the course packet.
(7) When I return papers, quizzes,
or other assignments to you, do not throw them away. Keep
them until you confirm your final grade in the course, so
if for some reason a correction needs to be made, you will
have the record of both doing the work and receiving the grade.
When the teacher returns a paper to you, do not simply check
your grade and then chuck the paper in the nearest trash can.
The teacher expects you to go through the paper and read the
comments so you can improve on the next essay or assignment.
It is particularly unwise to annoy teachers in this manner
because it leaves them with the impression that the student
either (a) does not care about improvement or learning or
(b) even worse, is contemptuous of the teacher's advice. Neither
possibility creates a good impression.
(8) Take ten minutes to familiarize
yourself with all your textbooks. Skim the table of contents,
the glossaries, the chapter headings, etc. Often, they include
useful resources you never learn about if you only read the
(9) You are not limited to reading
only the assigned materials. No matter what subject the class
might be discussing, you can take control of your own education
by taking the time to peruse a few encyclopedia articles,
websites, or other resources to learn more about it. Yes,
this task takes time; yes, you are busy already, but you should
never let college interfere with your education.
(10) "Dew knot
trussed yore spell-chequere, ass u ken sea hear." Instead,
arrange to proofread each other's papers before submitting
them to the cruel, cruel hands of your teacher.