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10 Tips for Success on Assignments

October 4, 2009

Midterm time has arrived on campus, and some freshmen (in many different classes) are unpleasantly surprised when they see their Early Alert grades. Why aren’t they earning  Satisfactory grades? In my classes, typically it’s because they simply have failed to complete and submit the required assignments.

College expectations and assignments may be different than the ones you completed in high school. Here are several tips that may help you succeed in your assignments.

  1. Read the assignment thoroughly. Ensure that you understand what the instructor is looking for as a deliverable. Not sure? Ask.
  2. Use standard English grammar and spelling. Though abbreviations and lack of capitalization or punctuation may be fine in text messages or Twitter, they are definitely not acceptable in other written assignments. Need help with grammar? Check out Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.
  3. Use spell check. Don’t rely on it exclusively, but do use it.
  4. If there’s a minimum or maximum word or page count, write enough, but not too much.
  5. Consider writing a draft of your assignment for your instructor to review prior to the deadline. (Yikes — check the second definition included in the deadline link.)
  6. Post or turn in your assignment by the deadline. Many instructors (including me) do not accept late work. (See some views on late work at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website.)
  7. Thoroughly review your course syllabus. Many instructors include a weekly schedule of discussions and assignments. Don’t be surprised if when you ask when an assignment is due, your instructor replies, “You’ll find that in the syllabus.” Check GeorgiaVIEW for due dates if they are not specified on the syllabus.
  8. When taking a quiz or test in GeorgiaVIEW, make sure you are aware what the rules are for using materials to help you take the test, that you know how many tries you have, and how the final score is calculated. (In many of my classes, the quizzes are “open-everything,” at least two tries are allowed, and highest score counts. But that’s just me.)
  9. If your instructor specifies or indicates a preference for fonts and margins, use these when writing your assignment.

Hmmm . . . that’s only nine tips. What is one addition tip you could offer to complete this top ten list? Please comment with your suggestion.


(Adapted from a post I wrote last year for my FYE 1220 class.)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2009 7:27 pm

    I tell my students to see me with problems or questions or difficulties BEFORE it impacts the grade/assignment/performance.

    Professors, you see, have seen and heard it all. Your timing can mean the difference between the circumstance being perceived as a legitimate problem or simply a weak excuse. Before you get to that make-or-break exam talk to your professor — in the office, on the phone or via Email — and you might find them far more receptive to your situation than after the grades are in.

  2. Urkovia permalink
    October 4, 2009 9:03 pm

    Don’t wait till the last minute to start the assignment. Something that looks as if it will take only 10 minutes to complete may take 30 minutes to an hour. So begin the assignment far enough in advance so you can ask any questions that may arise along the way.

  3. October 4, 2009 9:49 pm

    Soooo much of post-secondary (and elementary and HS) education seems to revolve around writing in order to show what you know.

    Ask if the teacher is open to alternative presentations. Maybe you can even get beyond ‘writing’?

  4. slideshare_dan permalink
    October 4, 2009 9:50 pm

    Finish it early, set it down and then read it outloud. When you’re done with your assignment, set it down for at least a night and get away from it. Come back to it the next day and read it outloud. If you stumble, it means your writing isn’t clear. Better yet have your roommate read it back to you. You’ll find often everything you’re thinking didn’t quite make it onto paper and a lot of your sentences will get turned into questions.

    Remember, the point isn’t to journal your train of thought, it’s to make a point clearly and convincingly.

    Also, don’t just regurgitate. It’s annoying to reread the same thing over and over again and the last thing you want is a professor to be annoyed by your assignment. Make sure you understand the concepts and make it your own.

  5. Holly Bounds permalink
    October 4, 2009 9:51 pm

    I’d find a classmate to develop an understanding with….you read their assignment, they read yours before turn-in-time. Sometimes you’ve read it so many times that you skim over errors that a new reader would find.

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