Dear 100 Hour Board,
Best tips for doing well in American Heritage?
-defs going to class
Dear Aren't We All,
It's been a while since I was in American Heritage, but one of my best tips is get to know your TA. Make sure that you are attending their review sessions, and make sure that you take any opportunity to have them proofread any papers that you need to write before turning them in. Your TA is the one that will be grading your essays, so they'll know better than anyone how points will be distributed. Plus, I think TA's are way more lenient if they actually know you.
I'm actually an American Heritage TA, so here are some tips that were helpful for me when I took the class, and that I've noticed successful students tend to do:
- Yes, go to class, but don't just copy down the slides—listen to what the professor is saying, and write down what he says in your notes to supplement what's on the slides.
- Use your TA! It is literally our job to help you. If you're struggling with something, we want to help, and will do whatever we can (within the bounds of the rules for the job and our own schedules) to do so. Send us an email, set up a meeting with us, come to our office hours, whatever you can do. We can help catch you up if you've had to miss class for whatever reason, we can clarify concepts/readings you didn't understand, we can give you essay help, we can help you learn how to study better for the class, etc. Don't be afraid to reach out to your TA if you're struggling. (A quick side note on that: yes, please make use of your TA, but still treat them like a person. None of us likes it when students treat us like automated robots that exist only to spout off American Heritage answers. Realize that anything you dislike about the course is probably something the TAs have absolutely no control over, and don't take out your frustration on us.)
- Go to the Review Room! It's located in 2218 HBLL, and is open weekdays from 9:00-4:00 (except on Tuesdays during devotional). Every day there's a set topic for review, and a brief review is done on that topic every hour. The reviews help solidify concepts that we may skip over briefly in class or the reading, but that are still important for you to understand, and in general students who go to the Review Room frequently tend to do better on tests.
- Don't get behind on the readings. I know there are a lot, but that's exactly why you shouldn't get behind—it makes it hard to catch up. And don't just passively read them, but also take notes on them. It takes longer, but it's much easier when you're studying for the test to read your notes on the readings rather than having to skim through all the readings again.
- Read the syllabus. Most American Heritage professors have very long syllabuses, but it's worth it to read the whole thing because they answer a lot of questions about the course, and often include some tips about doing well in the class.
- When taking tests, make sure you actually understand what all the questions are asking. I can't tell you how often students tell me that they got questions wrong just because they didn't read the question or answers carefully. Don't be that student. This goes for any class, actually, not just American Heritage.
Also, one more quick note. You probably have friends or roommates or siblings who have taken the class, and some of them may be eager to tell you all about it. But keep in mind they probably took it from a different professor than you, because the professors change every semester, and that each professor teaches differently, so take everything they say with a grain of salt.
Finally, this is just one more plea to actually talk to your TA and/or professor about tips for doing well. It's much better to talk to your actual TA, who knows you and the professor you're taking the class from, than to just get tips from an anonymous TA online who may or may not know you and your professor. I was very hesitant to reveal that I'm an American Heritage TA in this answer, because I don't want you thinking that the Board is a better resource for American Heritage questions than the professor, the TAs, and the Review Room, or that this answer is a replacement for any of those things. But if you do take advantage of all the resources available to you and make an effort, the class is very doable.
Many undergrads expect to only be tested on facts. American Heritage asks students to apply principles that you learn to new situations. For many people, making this leap requires a lot of effort. If it doesn't come naturally to you, make sure to go talk to the TAs.
Additionally, it is common when people study to just re-read notes. It's better to do some kind of activity that forces you to recall information and then check the answer to see if you are right. Flash cards are really good for this.