The American Campus

The atmosphere of the American classroom surprises many international students.  Each professor has his or her own teaching style and classroom rules, but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Classes start on time, so do not be late.  It is considered disrespectful to interrupt the class by arriving late.  If you are late, you will miss some of the lecture or discussion.  Your professor may penalize late students.
  • Ask your professor questions.  If you do not understand something, ask your professors to repeat or explain again.  Your professor expects you to ask questions, and it is not disrespectful.  If you have many questions or are having difficulty in the class, make an appointment to talk to your professor during his or her office hours so that you can speak privately and in detail with your professor.  It is very important to have good communication with your professors.
  • Academic support is available and free.  If you are having difficulty with understanding your textbooks, class lectures, or writing assignment, make an appointment in the Rider Learning Center or with Westminster Academic Support.

Tips for Academic Success

  • American professors want students to respect their knowledge and opinions, but they generally prefer discussion and debate to respectful silence.
  • Although most faculty members encourage critical thinking from students, the manner in which criticism is expressed is important.  Show respect by acknowledging your professor's point of view and then offering your own for consideration.
  • Regular attendance at all classes and good note-taking skills will help you be a successful student.
  • Ask your instructor for clarification if you do not understand.  Within reason, ask that important points be repeated if they are presented too fast for you to comprehend or to write down.
  • Pay close attention to instructions given at the beginning of the course about how the class will be conducted and how grades will be determined.
  • Expect to receive a "syllabus" for each course. The syllabus outlines the course's objectives and the material to be covered.  It lists due dates for assignments, examination dates, texts to be purchased or obtained from the library, and the professor's name, office location, and office hours.  Keep the course syllabus for the duration of the course.
  • A class or workshop on academic writing can help you produce written assignments that meet accepted standards.