In many cultures, there is a great difference in status between students and professors. Students show their respect for their professors by listening quietly. They do not question what the professor says. In the United States, it is quite acceptable for students to ask questions and to engage in discussion with the professor. This is not disrespectful. In fact, professors view participation in class discussions as a sign of interest in the subject matter.
There are a few rules students are expected to observe. It is very important to come to class on time. If you are late, enter quietly and sit down. If you know that you will have to miss one or more classes, let your professor know ahead of time. Make sure you do not miss any assignments.
During the first class meeting, your professors will inform you of their office hours and when and how they can be reached. If you have a problem with the material presented in class, do not hesitate to see the professor during office hours and ask for help. Because professors sometimes have other meetings scheduled during their office hours, it might be best to e-mail the professor and ask for the best time to come to his/her office. Even if you do not have a problem, it is a good idea to get to know your professor by talking to him/her. It gives both of you a chance to get to know each other. This may be particularly important if you have trouble understanding the professor or he/she has trouble understanding you. Often all it takes is a little time to get used to the other person's style of speaking.
At the time of the first class meeting, your professor will specify "due date" for various assignments. These dates are very firm, and you must hand in your assignments by the date in order to get full credit. If you know that you cannot meet a deadline for an important reason, contact your professor ahead of time and try to work out an arrangement that is mutually agreeable.
One thing you need to know about studying in the U.S. is that speaking and learning in English will be exhausting and frustrating, particularly in the beginning. Many international students have to spend much more time than their American counterparts to complete the same assignments. This can lead to stress and feelings of inferiority.
The most important thing you can do to improve your level of success in the classroom is to improve your English skills. Your English will not improve if the only people you talk to outside the classroom speak your native tongue. You have to speak to Americans whenever possible, listen to the radio, read newspapers, etc. Interacting with U.S. culture will greatly enhance your ability to understand your colleague and professors on the academic level. The more proficient your English becomes, the more successful you will be in the classroom.
If you are feeling pressure, you have to take the initiative and ask for help. You must ask to join study groups or ask professors questions. No one will approach you to find if there is anything you do not understand. However, classmates and professors are usually willing to help if they know you are having problems. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to help yourself. Remember how much effort it took to get the opportunity to study at Cedarville University and put twice as much effort into your work to make the most of your stay here.