Read the Syllabus
Faculty members prepare detailed syllabi which list the assignments, the expectations for the course, and policies regarding such matters as late papers, missed assignments, and missed exams. While most faculty go over the syllabi during the first class, it is imperative that students familiarize themselves with the contents of these course outlines. What is said on the syllabus will serve as a guide to the entire course.
By definition, the study of History requires a great deal of reading. It also requires that the student read critically, so that s/he be able to discern the important information in a text and master it. This is a skill that will always be useful and which develops only with practice. One way to develop critical reading skills is always to do the assigned readings before class. Thus, you will be able to evaluate how well you have comprehended the reading by comparing your understanding with that of the professor and the other students. You will always get much more out of the class if you have read the assignment ahead of time.
Participate in Class
Learning is a cooperative process. Your professor will make every effort to present the material in an interesting and organized fashion, but if you participate actively in the class, you learn more. Sometimes this activity is nothing more than taking good notes during a lecture. More often, the professor will ask the class to discuss the issues being raised. If you contribute to class discussions, you will find that your knowledge will grow much greater.
Ask for Help if You Need It
All of the members of the History Department have posted office hours when they are available for student consultations. They are also generally willing to meet with students at other times. If you are having trouble with an assignment or a grade or have questions about the course, you should make it a point to see your professor.
In addition, the Department, College, and University provide a number of resources that can be of help. The Writing Center in 216 College Hall has graduate assistants who can help with writing. The Learning Skills Center also has competent tutors in a number of areas.
Get to Know the Faculty
Even if you are not having trouble with a course, it is always a good idea to get to know your professors. Visit them during office hours to discuss issues that arise in the course. Come to the social events that bring students and faculty together. Make full use of your mentor both as an academic advisor and career advisor. Stop in the Department Office and visit with the Chair. A faculty member is happy to talk about History or current events or anything else with an interested student, and such conversation may pay dividends when it's time to ask for letters of recommendation.
Be Sure You Understand the Concept of Academic Integrity
According to the University's Student Handbook, "violations of Academic Integrity-whether or not they are the result of a deliberate intent to deceive-are subject to academic sanctions, including (but not limited to) oral and/or written reprimand; lowered grade or failure on an assignment; lowered course grade; failure of a course; suspension or dismissal from a class; suspension or dismissal from the School or the University; and/or revocation of a degree. Information regarding such violations will be maintained in student academic files and may be included in transcripts and other official University documents."
Faculty view plagiarism and cheating of any kind in course work as dishonesty that undermines not only scholarship but the entire scholarly community.