Professor’s Guide to Getting Good Grades in College by Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman

Professors' GuideJacobs and Hyman actually sent a copy of this book to my mother for her to review on her blog, but since I’m the one actually headed to college I picked up the book a read the whole thing in our drive across Wyoming. The first few chapters are pretty chatty, and there were times when I felt like the professors were repetitive and talking in circles. However, once the book moves onto what to do the first week of classes and how to speak to a professor when a particular problem arises, I could not stop thanking this book for being in existence. For example, Professors’ Guide to Getting Good Grades in College spouts off handy information like:

  • Your hand should never stop moving during class, but it especially shouldn’t stop when the professor is going over the syllabus.
  • Use the first week to access whether you should drop a class or not. Waiting until after the first week makes it impossible for you to sign up for another course and even if you can, you’ll have missed the professor going over the syllabus, which is absolutely necessary for success.
  • Although I already knew not to say “Did I miss anything important in class last week?” from high school, I loved how the professors tell you how to phrase this question so it is (a) not offensive, (b) gets the professor to overlook your absence, and (c) helps you get all the information you missed (and then some).

I found the information from “visiting professors” (i.e. someone not Jacobs and Hyman) extremely helpful because it backed up what Jacobs and Hyman said about how to approach a situation. I was originally worried that maybe their information only pertained to their own classes, but it was great to read of other professors who do almost the exact same thing.

The book is broken into five parts — The Start, The Class, The Exam, The Paper, and The Last Month — but I didn’t really think “The Paper” offered very much new information. I could see how this section would be helpful to those who are scared of writing papers, but I felt like it didn’t offer me any new information. “The Last Month” is a section I plan to go back and read as I get closer to the end of the semester. The information felt so unnecessary right now since I’m still at “The Start” and on the cusp of starting “The Class.”

All in all, I think freshman would be less stressed and less confused if they had a copy of Professors’ Guide to Getting Good Grades in College. It’s a very helpful book that really calmed some of my fears about college.

Others’ Thoughts:

Book Mentioned:

  • Jacobs, Lynn F., and Jeremy S. Hyman. Professors’ Guide to Getting Good Grades in College. New York: Collins, ARC. Print. 368 pgs. ISBN: 9780060879082. Source: Review copy.


  1. As someone who made it through undergrad with good grades (straight A’s), I would dispute the first point about your hand always moving… there’s a lot to be said for actually just listening and absorbing what a professor is saying, rather than trying to jot everything he or she says down. I would say it’s more important for you to do your reading ahead of class, because then you can determine how much of what the prof is saying you’ve already got a written record of, and what is new and worth flagging. Taking notes doesn’t mean you’re engaging in the material… better to listen attentively!

    Also, I am not sure where this person teaches, or how, but I don’t get the big deal about the syllabus. Pretty much every class will give you a printed copy (or the website will have it posted), and I don’t see what more needs to be added. Read through the syllabus, and mark down important dates in your calendar. All of the important information the prof wants you to know (like grading policies, etc.,) should be in writing then and there… no idea what you should be adding to it.

    I don’t think you need to worry too much about college. It’s a transition, but many people have made it through very successfully without a handbook, and I’m sure you’ll find that you manage just fine! You’ll figure out your own rhythm and what works for you, and that’s really more important than following a laundry list of do’s and don’t’s.


  2. @ Steph: You’re right; a person needs to know themselves before following this book’s advice to an absolute tee. Personally, I’m an auditory learner so I have to agree with you when you say it’s better to sit back and listen. I understand why the book would encourage students to never stop writing as I have friends who don’t and then don’t know what the professor said.

    As for the syllabus, they encourage you to pay attention to verb choice, but aren’t really clear on what that means. I just think it’s important to listen when the professor goes over the syllabus rather than spacing out (learned my lesson in high school when a date was printed incorrectly on the syllabus).

    Thanks for the vote of confidence. I’m not that worried about college or class. Honestly, I’m more concerned about cramming all my clothes into a tiny closet.


Please feel free to share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: