How to Succeed in the Cameron School of Business: An Insider’s Scoop

Whether a student is a first generation college student or comes from a long line of college graduates, college can be a new world of experiences and challenges for students.  Many times students aren’t aware of the skills, behaviors, and habits that can make or break their academic career.

The Cameron School of Business is focused on the success of its students and prides itself on excellence in teaching.

In this post, we will pull away the curtain and get inside information from various professors in the CSB.  The inspiration for this post began with a conversation with Dr. Patricio Torres- Palacio about student success, and it grew into an interview of several CSB professors.  They were all asked what students should and should not do to succeed in their class.


Dr. Patricio Torres-Palacio – Marketing/Management

To be successful in my class:

  1. Do not “be absent” in class.  As I have explained to my students, there are several ways of being “absent” in class. You can be absent in body or in mind.
  1. Come prepared.  Students have the syllabus and by reading the calendar, they know in advance the chapter/topic of the day.  To read “before” the session helps a lot.  I am a professor who constantly applies the Socratic Method.  So, in order to answer questions, the best way is to read in advance.  Discussions work wonderfully as a learning technique.
  1. Re-do numerical exercises without looking at the solution.  After that, then compare and detect all flaws.
  1. For exams, focus on the study guides.
  1. Through observation over many semesters, I have noticed that even when students work hard and study well, they might lose points for not knowing “how to take exams.”  It sounds obvious, but many things could improve by learning the appropriate “strategy” to take exams.
    1. Don’t waste time over-writing an answer.  Answering just what has been asked is important.  Only if the student has extra time after finishing the exam, should he/she  go back to an answer and add more explanation.
    2. Start by answering whatever is “easier” for the student in the exam or whatever he/she is more familiar with.  If you get stuck on any question or exercise, go quickly to something else.  Do not spend too much time waiting for a solution to come to mind.
    3. Make sure that you have had plenty of sleep, food, water, etc.  Bathroom breaks during the exam should be avoided if possible.    All the time given for the exam should be used wisely.
  1. All my exams have two parts.  The second part is practical…the solution to a case.  It is open book and open notes.  Sometimes when students hear that an exam will be open-book, open-notes, they automatically assume that it will be “easy” (after all they can see everything in the book).  This assumption is very tricky.  As I always tell my students, when a professor gives an open-book, open-note exam, it DOES NOT mean necessarily that it will be easy; as a matter of fact, it could be more difficult.  Therefore, for an open-book, open-note exam, studying and preparing is still crucial.  The book should just be used as a general guide.  If students “start” to find out how to solve a case by reading the chapters during the exam, they will run out of time.  Previous preparation is still a must.
  1. In team assignments (and there are plenty in my class) avoid what is known as “getting a free ride.”  Not only do professors dislike students who look to get a free ride, but other classmates dislike it too.  Starting to gain such a reputation among professors and classmates is certainly the worst thing that could happen.  As I always tell my students, it is never too early to start building a good reputation as professionals and we begin at the classrooms.
  1. Always show a good attitude and be respectful to the professor andyour classmates.
  2. The characteristic that I like the most among students is integrity.  Even when a student has done something inappropriate, to demonstrate integrity may inspire more indulgence from me as the professor.


Ways NOT to be successful:

If a student does not come to class, it does not offend me; rather, it is his/her problem, but with that being said, my reply would be, “very well, you did not come to class, but if you end up with low grades (including attendance and participation of course) then DO NOT blame it on anybody else but yourself.”

“Sleeping in class” is a good way to be unsuccessful and even more – it is disrespectful.  My point would be if a student is terribly tired, I prefer that such student does not show up at all (same thing as being sick, for instance).  But the fact that a professor is making a good effort to give students his/her very best for their professional preparation and the student “ignores” all this by simply sleeping – personally I find it very rude.

As a master student and Ph.D. student in Purdue University (my alma matter) I noticed that what irritated professors the most was when a student was reading the newspaper in class or when a student came late to class, “threw” his/her homework over the pile where everybody turned in, turn around and leave class again.  Boy! did I see angry professors because of that!   Nowadays, we have “reading the laptop or the smart phone” instead of a newspaper. I truly believe that the technology does not change the main point – it is still disrespectful to the professor.

What really irritates me as a professor (probably in order of importance) are 3 things:

1. Any form of disrespect for the professor. Some things do change over time and could vary according to different cultures, but it is also true that real respect transcends or should transcend over time.

2. Skipping the professor for any complaint and going directly to the Chair and/or the Dean with accusations, even more- “exaggerations” or even worse- “false” statements.  I always mention to my students that if they have a complaint, please come to me first, and I will be more than glad to look for a solution “together.”

3. Even when a student has done something very inappropriate (like for example cheating), honestly, what irritates me more than the fact that the student has cheated is when the student “insults the professor’s intelligence,”  assuming that the professor will buy even the craziest of excuses.



Dr. Mark TurnerAccounting

A few years ago I asked several students who earned an A in Acct 5353 Individual Tax Concepts to share with other students some of the things they did in order to succeed in my class.  Here are a few of the things they shared and that I also believe are keys to success in my course.

  1. Take good notes
  2. Read the book
  3. Do the textbook problems
  4. Use BlackBoard
  5. Visit professor during office hours
  6. Study hard for the final exam and take it very seriously


Dr. Pooya Tabesh –Marketing/Management

I believes that in order for my students to be successful in my class that they need to be committed to these simple but important principles:

  • Preparation
  • Presence
  • Promptness
  • Participation
  • Professionalism


Dr. David Schein – Marketing/Management


  • Have perfect attendance.
  • Volunteer in class.
  • Come see me in person when you have a problem.


  • Not read the assigned material before attending class
  • Not attend every minute of every class unless you have a really good excuse
  • Free-ride on team projects, not doing your fair share
  • Fail to volunteer when the professor asks questions


Dr. Iris Franz – Economics

I advise my students to study a little every day after the class, when their memory about the material is still fresh. This way they don’t have to cram before the exam.

The reason why we want students to come to class: It takes 1.5 hours to absorb the material in class, but if you study on your own, you will have to spend twice the time. It is inefficient (using more time) to study the same amount of material. And economics is all about efficiency.

Also, raise your hand to ask questions in class. Don’t wait. If you wait, you will forget about your question.

When you have a question, chances are, other students have the same questions too. So my (the professor’s) answer to your question will benefit you and your classmates. Don’t be afraid of asking questions.

Dr. Yiying Cheng – Finance

  • The number one pet peeve of mine is the students’ absence.
  • To be successful: browse/skim through the book before class and always talk to me during the class.
  • To be unsuccessful: Do your own online surfing in class and draw a blank when working/discussion in group about example problems.
  • To be irritating: Always ask professors to confirm things that are written on the syllabus.


Dr. Vinita Ramaswamy – Accounting

 I tell my students to be active learners, which means they come to class after studying the chapter so that what the professor says makes sense, which means they practice and study without looking at the solutions so that they know where to start and how to proceed.  As they study a problem, think of changing the unknowns and seeing if the problem still works.  I tell them not to memorize but to understand what they are looking for.  This works in Accounting!


Dr. Margaret Shelton – Accounting

Students should use ALL available course tools, in addition to the faculty member:

  • Blackboard info for the course
  • Textbook resources
  • Read the syllabus
  • Pay attention to deadlines and plan ahead
  • Avoid last minute snafus

Dr. Shuoyang Zhang  – Marketing

Here is my advice to students:

1. Bring back creativity. We are dominated by professionalism and corrupted by adulthood. Our child spirit is the most precious thing and we should never lose it.
2. Cross the borders and blur the edges. Seemingly unrelated fields can deepen your understanding and inspire you to come up with the best ideas.
3. Pause. Look around. Appreciate the people in your life. You will be not be who you are without them. Smile and show your gratitude.
4. No need to pursue happiness. Just be. Right here right now as who you are. What we need to pursue is meaning. Meaning brings life alive.
5. First be a good human being. Then be good at what you do. Spend some time, and be really good. Do it beautifully.


Finally, Dr. Beena George, the Dean of CSB, offers students words of wisdom: “Success in class is about bringing the right attitude – a willingness to accept criticism and use the feedback to become better. We all know that faculty are equally available to all students, but some students take advantage of this availability better than others– by managing their own time and by being prepared at meetings with their professors.  It is also about discipline and persistence. In the end, it is all about being responsible for your learning and your success.”


Our hope, as the CSB faculty, is that you will take these tips and insights and apply them to your academic life.  Your success matters to us!

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