Unless you are taking ASTRO 001, almost every ASTRO class at Penn State is challenging. ASTRO 006 is an incredibly hard astronomy class, but it is possible to get a good grade. The majority of your grade is made up of two midterms and a final, and they are hard, but follow these tips and the class is much more manageable.
1. Go to Class
While attendance is not mandatory, it is hard to fully understand the material from looking at PowerPoint slides. Being in class lets you hear all the information. The class is also small enough that you can ask questions in class which can help a lot. Students frequently ask questions in this class. The professor will also usually give you an exam question or two in class, so if you go to class, you already know some of the test.
2. Read the Textbook
The textbook for this class is not required, and readings are not assigned. However, supplementing the lectures with your own reading helps you encode information into your long-term memory better. Not only will this help you understand the material better, but it is also a great study tool.
3. Make friends
In this class, there is a homework quiz every week. It is allowed, and encouraged, to do it with others. Befriending other classmates gives you an advantage on these homeworks. They could be the difference between a B and a B+.
4. Go to Office Hours
Astronomy is really confusing, especially if you are not familiar with Physics. It also tends to build on top of each other, so if you are confused in one unit, it will hurt you in the next one. Going to office hours not only shows your professor that you are trying in his class, it also forces you to go over the material one more time.
5. Go Above and Beyond
There are always so many cool current events going on related to Astronomy. Try keeping up with some of them. Chances are they will relate to what you are learning. By learning things on your own, you will understand astronomy on a deeper level. Also, don’t be afraid to do astronomy related things. The Davey Lab is open most nights to students who want to look in the telescopes on the roof. They are usually pointed at something cool like the Moon or Saturn.
Astronomy is such a fun and interesting topic and can be a great class. However, admittedly it is very challenging. If you follow these tips, you will enjoy the class so much more.