Everything you need to know to succeed in college-level mathematics, but are afraid to ask:

  1. You are not in high school anymore! It is absolutely necessary that you discard high school notions of teaching, learning and working, and replace them with college level notions. Our goal is not simply to coach you to reproduce what was said in the classroom.
  2. Expect the material to be routinely covered at a pace that is two to three times as fast as in high school, and expect to be required to demonstrate greater mastery of it.
  3. We only have about 40 hours of lecture - that is less than a single work week - so we cannot afford to cover every detail. Do not expect to be taught everything in the classroom. It is your responsibility to learn the material. Most of this learning will take place outside of the classroom. You should plan on spending two hours outside of the classroom on this material for every hour we spend in class.
  4. The instructor's job is not to explain everything in excruciating detail, but to provide a framework with which to guide you in learning the concepts and methods that are the material of the course.
  5. Read the textbook before and after the lectures. Read and study the examples, and work them out, along with some other exercises, as you read the text.
  6. Ask questions, and work problems.
  7. The purpose of the course is not to program each of you to respond to certain problem assignments, but how to think and how to learn within a certain mathematical context.
  8. Finally .... your professor is there to help you! Ask for his/her help as soon as you need it.

This material is based on an article "Teaching at the University Level" by Prof. Steven Zucker of Johns Hopkins University; see the AMS Notices, vol. 43, no. 8, pp. 863-865 for the original article.

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