Too many students go into their college courses with a chip on their shoulder. Their version of assertiveness means that they must monopolize the instructor, put down any other student who threatens their dominion, and destroy anyone who disagrees with them. While this would be true in medieval Europe, it does not do so well in university courses.

College education, at it’s best, isn’t a solitary obstacle course where students merely tear through barriers until they get their reward. By its very nature, college is a communal activity, in which individual students are brought together to learn not just from instructors, but from their peers. If you want to get the most out of your college experience, you’ll heed these four tips:

1. Give others a chance to answer

Too often, more assertive students raise their hands in response to every question, as if they were in a one-on-one tutoring session with the instructor. What these individuals fail to realize is that when they are in a classroom full of students, they are in a community. And this means they need to consider the needs of everyone in the class, not just themselves.

Contrary to what you might think, other students in the class want to learn, too. It’s okay to be the first hand up on a few questions, but try waiting sometimes. You’ll be surprised at how many other students will build up the courage to raise their hand and participate after a few seconds. This shows that you are a mature student who doesn’t need to answer every question to know how smart you are. It also shows a generosity that your classmates will appreciate as the term progresses.

2. Praise your classmates

You’d be amazed how far a compliment or a congratulations goes. Everybody wants a little recognition, even in the classroom. Best of all, offering praise to your classmates doesn’t cost you a thing. So pay attention to when someone does well on a test or when they answer a difficult question correctly. It’s a sign of true confidence when you can praise and compliment those around. And your classmates will admire you for it.

3. Don’t interrupt

Few things are as disrespectful as cutting someone off mid-sentence, and few things will draw the ire of your classmates like this will. Whether you intend to or not, it implies that what they are saying isn’t worthwhile enough to hear the rest and that what you have to say is surely more important.

While you may not send this message on purpose, this is how your message is interpreted. Therefore, although you may be so excited to speak you can barely contain yourself, or you think the other person is missing the point, restrain yourself. You don’t win any points for speaking over others-except negative brownie points with your peers.

4. Don’t take it personal

In a class of twenty to thirty students from diverse backgrounds, you are bound to disagree with someone. This is part of the mind-expanding experience of college. But agreements on topics in class should never be anymore than that–disagreements.

When all is said and done, it’s just a class. More often than not, it’s a class that will only last for an hour or two of your life, once a week for the next few months. And then it’s over. No matter how important your disagreement with a member of your class seems at the time, all you have to do is put it into perspective to see how completely pointless it is to foster a grudge against a anyone in your class. It makes you look immature and gets in the way of your learning.

So remember, your college courses aren’t gladiatorial battle to the death. They are an opportunity for your to come together with other people and benefit from each other’s learning and experience. Learn to get along with your classmate and you will find your educational experience enriched.

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