American Experience | 体验美国

What if I fall behind in my classwork?

July 2, 2014 3:31 pm | By Yichen

Before I came to the USA for college, one of my teachers in high school who had studied abroad warned me that I need to improve my English as much as I can, otherwise I will be suffering a lot trying to catch up with class work. He told me it took him almost half a year until he finally got used to the fast pace of classwork in college.

Half a year can be an exaggeration, but it is true that for every international student, adjusting to the pace and demands of college can be tough in the first year. Going through this myself, I can understand how frightening the unknown may be for an international student in a US college. But there are always ways to get through it.

Keeping pace with understanding when all lectures are in American English can be the very first challenge international students will be faced with. What I did was that I brought a recording device with me to every lecture. I recorded the whole lecture no matter what… even if I felt that I understood the material. Then if I later felt like I did not get the lecture, I could go home and listen to the lecture again and again until I got the lecture.

Another thing to remember about attending lectures is to always take notes. Some professors would use a PowerPoint presentation or write on the whiteboard to show the key points of the lecture. Just take those things down and also write down whatever you think is important. Then you can go back and revisit the notes, probably with the lecture you recorded. Also, when you feel lost, you can always ask your professors to explain, during or after the class. They are always happy to do so. With all these things being done, I think lectures won’t be too big a problem.

Besides lectures, other aspects of academic work can also be challenging, but there is always help available. It varies by college, but almost every US college has resources to help international students to succeed academically. I suggest the first thing you should do before classes start is to go to the International Student and Scholar Services, known as ISSS (every university has one). Determine what those resources are.

I’m just going to introduce you a few other resources I think can be very helpful.

The first one, of course, is your professor. When you feel lost or confused; when you have questions and thoughts; use their office hours or set up appointments. Just go talk to them. They are always willing to help, and they will try their best to help you out.

Also, there is a place called the Writing Center, where students can go and ask for help with writing papers or any kind of writing. The staff there is very professional. They can help you to correct the grammatical errors in your paper and revise it. Sometimes they can even help you come up with ideas about papers. So when you have problems with papers, the Writing Center is the right place to go. Note: All students make use of the Writing Center not just the international students.

Last but not least, almost every university has an academic assistance center. This is a place where the university can find you tutors to assist you with the courses you have trouble in. Sometimes you need to pay if the tutor is personal tutor. Also, for those who are confident about their academic performance, they can always try apply being a tutor, not only to revisit the knowledge while tutoring, but also earn some extra income.