How To Stand Out In Your College Classes

rows of brown bottles with one white bottle in the middle standing out from the rest. This represents how to stand out in class

Knowing how to stand out in class is important on many different levels. It may help your grade as many professors count class participation and it is how you connect with your professors. Our professors are a very valuable resource. Of course, they give us our grades, but they can also advise us on which courses to take, how to participate in community activities, help with resume development, recommend internships or give career advice. A professor can also serve as a professional reference if you apply for graduate school or a job.

It can be hard to be noticed, especially when there can be hundreds of students in class. However, there are a few things you can do to stand out in college and create a lasting impression.

Stand Out In Class By Arriving Early

Show up to class a few minutes early. This accomplishes several things. First, if the professor is there, he/she will take notice of you. It could be a good time to ask the professor a question or even socialize with them. You will also be able to choose a good seat. Showing up early also shows that you are punctual, and you are serious about the class.

Sit Where You Get Noticed

Sit toward the front of the class. Your professor is more likely to recognize and remember the students they see when they are lecturing. Be active, through your participation your professor will remember your face and your name. Professors are less likely to know the students who sit in the back and never speak. Why should they take the time to interact and get to know you if you don’t do the same? They won’t take notice if you are not noticeable.

Be Seen By Participating In Class

The best way to stand out in class is to connect with your professors through class participation. This means not only should you ask and answer questions but make observations. Be an active and engaging student. If your professor counts class participation as part of your grade you won’t be overlooked if you are actively engaged.

Depending on the class size this could be difficult. If the class is big and predominantly lecture-based there may be fewer opportunities to participate. However, find a way to engage and stand out. It may be nothing more than keeping your eyes open. Show that you are actively involved by nodding along to what the professor is saying. Take good notes and don’t use your phone. I promise, your professors notice when you are paying attention or dozing off.

Stand Out In Class By Getting To Know Your Fellow Classmates

Studies show that students have a higher success rate in classes if they work together. Forming study groups with peers leads to better grades and study habits. Having a bit of moral support is great motivation to do better in a class.

two college students sitting outside on the grass smiling as they help each other with school work so they can stand out in class

Exchange phone numbers or emails with a few classmates. You will be able to reach out to them if you need notes, have questions about an assignment, or need a study partner. Getting good grades and doing well on projects will help you stand out among your peers and your professor.

Be sure to read, How To Get Good Grades in College.

Use Office Hours To Stand Out In Class

Office hours are a great way to get to know a professor. Every professor holds office hours at least once a week, giving students a chance to drop in with questions or problems they may be having with the course material. I met with almost every one of my professors during office hours.

Over your semester, stop by your professor’s office to review tests, and go over homework assignments or notes. Even if you are not struggling in the class and are confident in the subject, showing up during office hours will let your professor know that you care about the course and your work. I had a professor who was willing to review and grade all my papers before I submitted them because I visited during office hours and asked. Your professor will get to know who you are, and you’ll begin to develop a professional relationship.

You can also use office hours to stop in and ask about academic and career advice. Professors are some of the best resources when it comes to finding internships and jobs, many have connections outside of the university or can connect you with opportunities.

You may or may not have opportunities to open up to your teachers during class. And you may or may not feel comfortable doing so. So, take advantage of your teacher’s office hours, when you can speak with them one-on-one.

Stay In Touch

As with any professional contact you should stay in touch with the professors whom you’ve formed a relationship with. Not only through your college years but also after you graduate. Your professors can write letters of recommendation or be valuable references. When I applied to graduate school, I needed two letters of recommendation from professors. When I reached out to my professors, they were not only excited to hear that I was going to grad school, but they were also happy to catch up on my life, career, and academics. I was excited to catch up on their lives too.