Classroom Culture

The classroom experience at the University of Michigan will likely be different from your home university. Here are some tips for a successful classroom experience: 

Classroom Etiquette in the U.S.

  • Students will have several classes in a lecture environment; however, there will often be a discussion meeting associated with those classes. 
  • In the discussion section or in a smaller classroom setting, students are expected to participate in class. 
  • Generally, students will raise their hand during class if they have a question or would like to participate in a discussion and then wait to speak until they are called upon. 
  • You may remain in your seat when speaking to the professor or addressing the class, unless you are making a formal presentation. 

Professors & GSIs

  • While all classes are taught by professors, there are Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) who may assist the professor in holding discussion sections, which are small classes designed to reaffirm what the professor has taught during lecture. 
  • GSIs are advanced graduate students who are obtaining their Masters or Doctoral degrees. 

Office Hours

  • There is limited individual contact time with the professors and GSIs during classes.  
  • Therefore, it is strongly recommended that students, especially incoming exchange students, attend their professor’s and GSI’s office hours regularly throughout the semester. 
  • During office hours, students have the opportunity to talk to either the professor or GSI in a private setting to get extra help with homework assignments or assistance in fine-tuning paper topics. Oftentimes, this can be the best way to get to know your professor and GSI. 

Success in the Classroom

  • The key to success at the University of Michigan is to work hard, complete all assignments, attend office hours, and study for all exams. 
  • Each class usually consists of weekly readings and homework assignments which may count for a large portion of your final grade. 
  • In addition to this, there are also as many as four exams per semester as well as potential quizzes (varies greatly from class to class). 
  • The only way to be successful taking exams and quizzes is to study for them. 
  • Some classes may also evaluate students through papers assigned in advance or in-class “blue-book” exams, which are exams in which you write your responses in a blue notebook. You are responsible for bringing your own blue book to the exams. 

Classroom Participation & Attendance 

  • In addition to exams and homework assignments, students may be graded based on participation. 
  • Students should actively go to office hours to seek help and to get feedback on their work. It also shows the professor or GSI that you’ve taken a proactive approach, which could help in achieving a better grade. 
  • Many exchange students find it helpful to introduce themselves to professors early during the term. 
  • It can be confusing to be in a new school, so please check with your faculty member on how you are doing in your class if you are unsure. 
  • Class attendance and participation is mandatory. Failure to do this will lower your grade. Faculty can also drop or fail students who do not attend class. 

Final Grades and Transcripts

  • Most professors will make grading policies readily available in their course syllabus. If you are not sure how your final grade will be evaluated, ask your professor or GSI. 
  • Final grades are available through Wolverine Access, typically within 1 -2 days of the last exam date. 
  • The University of Michigan provides students with free official transcripts, available to order online through Wolverine Access
  • Additionally, make sure you have filled out your transcript release form on M-Compass and we will request that your official, electronic transcript be sent to your home university exchange office after all grades have been finalized.