Tips for Sucess


The Valley College Mathematics Department wants every student in each math class to have the maximum opportunity for success. Although we cannot guarantee this success, it has been our experience that students have a greater likelihood for improved class performance when they follow some simple guidelines:

If you are new to the college, take the assessment test and follow the recommendation based on your performance on the test. Even if you have satisfied the prerequisites for the course you want to take, you might consider dropping back a level if you completed these prerequisites in high school, or if they were taken more than three years ago. If you are still uncertain about which math class you belong in, check with any math professor for advice. He or she will be glad to help you. Remember: you are only cheating yourself if you register for a math class for which you are unqualified.

Math classes, particularly at the lower levels, close early in the registration period. While trying to enroll in the college, you don't need the added stress of attempting to get into a closed class.

Check with the bookstore to see that you are buying the correct edition. Read the text before the start of the class to get some idea of what the course is all about, especially the table of contents.

If you miss class, you may miss important information. Don't arrive late or leave early because it is distracting to the professor and to your fellow students to have people coming and going while instruction is taking place. Students who violate the College's attendance regulations are subject to exclusion from class. At times you may feel that you have a valid reason for missing class, but any time spent away from instruction will only detract from your overall achievement.

You should plan to spend at least two hours outside of school for every class hour working on math. At almost every class meeting, your professor will be assigning homework which should be completed by the next meeting. Because each new topic may use material from a previous topic, it is essential that you not get behind in your work. Don't expect to study for a test by "cramming" the night before the test.

Take notes but not in such detail that you miss what is going on. Any material written on the board is important enough to be included in your notes. Ask questions in class if you don't understand a point. Other students might have the same question, but are afraid to ask. You are entitled to ask questions about the subject matter as long as you do not monopolize the class time. If your question isn't satisfactorily answered in class, see your professor during his/her scheduled office hour or at some other mutually convenient time. Also you can get help in the Math Lab (MS 106).

Before starting your homework, review your notes, fill in any gaps in them, and make needed corrections. Then read the pertinent portion of the text and study the illustrative worked-out examples. Try to identify the significant theory that is being introduced. Now you are ready to begin your homework.

Studying with others outside of class is a good idea. Not only can you clear up difficulties by learning from others, but you also strengthen your own knowledge when you explain something to someone else.

Don't be discouraged if you don't immediately understand a new topic. Other students and your professor have had the same experience while learning math. Be persistent. You may have to reread your notes and the test or seek help from others to clear up difficulties.

Maintain your personal relations, employment, and other outside activities in such a way that they don't interfere with your math studies. Get enough sleep at home so that you come to class refreshed and alert. Be sure you have dependable transportation to the College.

You may not believe it, but every math professor wants you to succeed in his/her class. All of us went into math teaching because of a sincere desire to help others. If you find that for some reason you are not getting along with your professor, see the person privately in an effort to resolve the difficulty. If this meeting does not settle the problem, then see the Department Chairperson. However, to criticize the professor in class or in some other public setting is discourteous and will probably make getting what you want less likely.