"Don't go looking for love. You'll find it when you find it."
I have a friend who loves saying that to people and so I thought I would include that.
We pay to listen to the prof
Think of class as a movie.
No, that person's head is not your footrest, nobody is interested in your cell phone ringing, and we'd rather not hear about how cute that person was. We pay to be bored. That is exactly what we want.
If you have permission to record lectures
Listen to them again when you have spare time. I found this invaluable for Orgo when I wasn't sure on a concept and didn't have time to get it clarified.
Do the practice problems for Chemistry
The Chemistry department is probably one of the fairest, most efficient departments on campus. They will tell you how to succeed.
Essays and lab reports are both areas you can do well in
Follow the instructions provided and clarify your concerns with your marker. Get your work edited. Be concise. Do this ahead of time. Always have a strong thesis statement for essays. Support your arguments.
Prepare for labs
Do as much of the lab writeup at home as you can.
When a professor says "I don't expect you to memorize"...memorize anyway
I'm going to use the example of Organic chemistry. You could throw almost any Organic chemistry question from 2nd year at me and if I had the reagents, I could show you a detailed mechanism to get the products.
But...your professors will not always give you reagents. You cannot make that assumption. Everything is testable unless explicitly stated. Understand the concepts required to get to the more thermodynamic product, understand the concepts behind bond formation and the way molecules attack, but memorize the reagents.
If your prof throws up something and doesn't explain it and says "It's inorganic" or "The explanation is beyond the course", the expectation is that you know it anyway unless they say "I will not test this".
When they say "know" and you don't understand the concept or the explanation behind it, that means memorize.
"But university should be about understanding"
Yeah...let's do it this way.
Your doctor hasn't memorized every variation of irritable bowel syndrome he will ever see. He knows the symptoms though and that's cause he memorized them. He also understands how they were caused which is why, he can explain them or explain other anomalies. But he had to memorize something to get there.
"But if I do enough practice, I'll just know it really well"
Yes, but that's still memorizing. You're memorizing through practice. What I'm suggesting you do is retain the information and know it. I'm going to call that memorizing. You can call it "learning by practice". You should still know it in your sleep.
"What's a good way to memorize?"
Learn by practice. Expose yourself to as much of the material as possible. I can still list the body's response to decreased temperatures because I spent a lot of time thinking about it, not because I sat there and read the list of responses until I knew them by heart.
Just don't do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jccONkeGkZw
If you are late handing in something and you have to choose what you will hand in
Pick the references.
Always pick the references.
I once handed in a lab that didn't have a complete Results section or a Discussion. But I cited everything and handed in my references.
Let's say you get a 50% for not handing in half your lab. So you lost 50% of your mark on that assignment. You can still do well in the course because you're in it.
No references? Academic dishonesty, you might get kicked out.
Always pick the references.