There is a difference between physically sitting in a classroom and actually being present in class. This is one of those distinctions that is very different in college than it was in high school. In high school if you’re there, you’ll at least learn something because it’s a small room and there’s not much else to do. Many college professors allow students to take notes on laptops, dramatically increasing the potential in-class distractions.
The first step, of course, is to show up to your classes. Not all of your professors will take attendance in class, but those that do will dock your grade for too many absences. Grade breakdowns on syllabi should include the number of absences you’re allowed and the penalties for having more than that number. But really, you should save those absences for when you actually need them. There will be days when you can’t get to class for a legitimate reason, and it sucks when you’ve already used your absences.
Also, a 15-hour course load means that you’re only in the classroom for 15 hours a week. After the 35 hours a week that you spend in high school classes, 15 hours really shouldn’t feel like too much for anyone.
While in class, you should try to practice active listening. It’s a good habit to get into, so it’s useful even in easy entry-level classes. Active listen means no multitasking. If your self-restraint is lacking a bit, it might be helpful to turn off your WiFi access while in class.
Some classes are kind of boring, but the endurance of getting through tedious material is part of college learning. Bring a cup of coffee or chew a stick of gum to keep yourself awake, and take notes. The better notes you take, the more engaged your brain will be during the class.
For easier material, sometimes just taking notes once is enough reinforcement to remember the lecture. Taking good notes in the first place helps cut back on the time you need to study. Details about the lecture in your notes also make studying easier. Little interesting tidbits are often easier to remember than the big-picture information. Remembering a little part of the lecture can help bring back memory of the rest of it.
The bottom line is that college classes cost a lot of money. Not attending them is like throwing that money away and wasting a good studying opportunity all in one. Be there and be attentive, and you’re college career will go a lot more smoothly.