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I can’t tell you how many people I’ve come across who struggle in their college Literature classes. Even the English majors of the world find those classes difficult at times. But no fear! I’m here to tell you ways that you can make your life a little bit easier when it comes to these classes that you dread- especially your Literature class!

Finding the purpose

First things first: you need to figure out why are you taking the class: Is it to fulfill your general education credit in Literature, or is it just to fill your class schedule? It’s really important to know why you’re taking a course in college, especially because you’re paying the money to take the class. You never want to take a class if you don’t really need to; you can definitely use the money on other things (like the books that you’ll need for the other classes).

Take some time to figure out why you’re going to take this class. Trust me, it’ll make sense after the fact. If you take the class that you don’t need, when the class is over for the semester, you’ll ask yourself why you took the class in the first place.

Once you’re in, you’re in

syllabus survive literature classOnce you take the class, commit to it. Literature classes can be grueling with all of the reading and writing you have to do. But if you’re not committed to the class, you should be taking it. Oftentimes, students take classes that they think are “bird classes”: classes that they can fly through and get a 4.0 in with minimal effort. Two words for you: you’re wrong.

Get the books required for the course and start reading them right away. One thing that I do before a semester even starts is I email the professor of the class to see if they can provide me a copy of the syllabus early. I do this for a few reasons:

  • You can get started on some of the reading.
  • You’ll have a general idea of what direction the class goes from the beginning.
  • You’ll be starting your classroom relationship with your professor early.

Professors love go-getters! If they see you taking the initiative to commit yourself to the class, you’re already on their good side. Which leads me to my next point…

Build a great relationship with your professors

I cannot tell you how much easier the course becomes when you make an effort to get to know your professor. Find out when their office hours are and go to them. Usually Universities require the professors to have a certain amount of office hours per week so that the student can have more opportunities to succeed in the class. Take them up on that!

Besides, those office hours won’t be used for much of anything else. So pay them a visit and get to know them. You never know when you’ll need a reference for a job, internship, scholarship, or grad program!

English teachers know words better than anyone else- they’ll provide the best ones just for you if do well in the class!

Don’t forget to pay attention and take notes

Notes are so crucial for college Literature classes. I take notes wherever I can, whether that is in the margins of my books or during class lectures. Writing things down during class or when you’re doing research gives you a good foundation for remembering things on the quizzes and exams. Those are the things that you’ll want to do well on to get a good grade in the class. So pay attention to what the professor says and to class discussions- those are usually what the teacher will base his or her exams off of.

i see what you did there surviving literature classBesides, every college student can afford to pay attention because it’s free. College students love free things. (You see what I did there?)


Last but not least, participate in class. Most professors require participation in their classes and they make it a part of your overall grade. Don’t be the quiet person in the room because more often than not, the quiet person in an English class is the one that sticks out the most. Don’t make the professor call you on either. That won’t go over well, especially if you forget to take my advice on the tip before this one.

Participating is one of the easiest things you can do because you get to tell your opinion on a text or discussion, and as long as you’ve read your stuff and did your research, you should be able to accomplish this. Nothing is wrong or right if you’re prepared either. Just tell the class how you felt while reading a passage and back it up with evidence.

That’s all I have for you but I’d like to know what some of your tips would be too! Let me know in the comment section below!


Featured image courtesy of Paul Lowry via Flickr (CC BY 2.0). Syllabus image courtesy of g_kat26 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).