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Suggestions for ECE 264 Students

This is probably your second year at Purdue when you are taking ECE 264.  You should feel excited and proud of yourself. Purdue is one of the best universities in the world! You will likely feel overwhelmed (if you have not, you will soon) by homework, exams, club activities, and many other things.  Here are some suggestions to manage your time better and enjoy your life.

Know your priorities and choose wisely. If getting good grades is your top priority, spending a whole weekend watching sports would not be a wise way to achieve your goals. Say no to the activities that do not help you accomplish your goals.   Understand that if you make the right decisions now, you can make decisions about your career later.

Understand that grades are important. Yes, many successful people had bad grades. Some did not finish college degrees. However, they knew their goals and they decided grades were not their goals. Unless you have clear goals in your life, right now you should study hard to get good grades. Good grades will open many doors for you in your career. 

Attend seminars, read biographies, and talk to successful people. If you are not sure about your goals (you are not alone), go to seminars and listen to the speakers' stories.  In fact, many seminars are on-line now. Read the biographies of successful people. Talk to them.

Record your activities and identify the opportunities to save time. Do you know where your time goes? Do you spend time in important tasks? Watch Time Management by Professor Randy Pausch.

Plan 2 to 3 weeks ahead. You should know the deadlines of assignments and exams. You should plan before the deadlines. Spend at least 4 hours every week on every subject. Start homework early. Do not procrastinate and then spend all your time on one subject because an assignment is due. Most lectures are built upon the previous lectures. If you do not keep up, you will fall behind further and further. You can no longer learn anything in lectures and you have to spend much more time catching up several weeks later. Once this problem starts, your life will no longer be enjoyable for the rest of the semester.

Submit assignments several minutes earlier. Many submissions are handled electronically (such as through Blackboard). The deadlines are electronically enforced.  Some students submit assignments in the last minute and miss the deadlines. Then, these students spend much more time asking professors to accept the assignments. You can save time if you submit several minutes earlier.  You can also avoid mistakes such as submitting wrong files. Many professors allow students to submit multiple times and grade only the last submissions.  You should submit partially completed assignments to obtain some points, in case you miss the deadline.

Follow instructions. Many students do not read instructions for assignments and waste many hours scratching their heads.

Attend lectures. In most cases, the students getting better grades attend lectures regularly.

Know when to ask for help. Professors are willing to help students if they ask. You should prepare before asking for help. Do not say, "I do not understand anything. Please explain everything again to me."  You should explain what you already know. This can help professors identify the problems. You should attend lectures and read textbooks.  You can save your time if your question is already answered in the textbook. If your email contains a reasonable question, the receiver will most likely respond soon. Saying "Please respond as soon as possible." will not help. In fact, some people would actually ignore such emails. Some students send email just hours before an exam asking what is covered in the exam.  Such an email needs no response because the question has been answered in lectures, newsgroups, or class web site.

If you need help other than classes, please visit Student Services.

Use office hours. Professors and teaching assistants can help you during their office hours.

Use newsgroup.  Before you ask a question, check the class web site or newsgroup (or Blackboard - Discussion).  Your question may have already been answered.

Send email only when it is necessary. Save everyone's (including your own) time.

Take your responsibility. Professors and teaching assistants are willing to help you but you have to do your own part. For example, do not send your buggy code to the professor and ask the professor to debug for you. 

Be polite. Professors are willing to help you but they also help other students. Respect other students.  If a professor is talking to another student, please wait or come back later. 

Acquire bonus points. Many professors offer bonus points and you can get these points very easily.

Don't ask a question when the answer is known. Some students try to "push the boundary". A student asks to take an exam later because the student has not studied. Another student asks for an extension of an assignment because the student forgets to submit. Professors have to follow rules so that all students are treated fairly. If you already know the answer, don't waste time asking.

Do not cheat. If you do not know why you should not cheat, you should not be here.

Take responsibility and enjoy life. If you make the right decisions and take the right actions, you will be successful and enjoy your life.