For those of you in your first semester of college as incoming freshman, or if you’re still getting the hang of back to school, here are a few things to remember at the beginning of the Fall semester.
The first day of class is actually really important. Although people will tell you that nothing happens the first day of class and that you can sleep through it, the first class sets the tone for the rest of the semester. If you’re not there, your professor will notice, definitely, and s/he might not make as much of an effort for you because, after all, you didn’t make the effort on the first day! Immediately, you’re the one who doesn’t show up. Go to class, get your syllabus and find out what you’re in for. Smile if you can 😉
Read your syllabus—Throughout the semester you’ll get reminders and other students will talk about upcoming assignments and tests, so the syllabus might seem unimportant. Survey courses might be different though—you might not know anyone, your professors might not give friendly reminders, and because there are so many students, you are generally expected to handle the work on your own. Go to your first class, get your syllabus, and put important dates in your calendar (and don’t forget to set alerts).
Figure out your schedule—You have your class schedule, you know your friends’ schedules, you have your syllabus, and you know what kind of events you want to check out, mark those things out and set aside times to study, finish homework assignments, and to have some fun. It took me a few years to get the hang of the ever changing landscape of a collegiate semester, but eventually I kept on top of making time. Be sure you know what’s coming up and when you will have time to approach each thing, or else one thing after another will fall through the cracks.
Have fun, but not too much—Really, if you’re going to party and travel and spend time with your college sweetheart, the first years are the time to do it. While you’re in survey courses with huge lecture halls, tons of students, and you’re mostly taking multiple choice scantron tests, you can get away with missing a class or two or not doing so well on a test (this isn’t to say you should ignore classes, but more like, don’t worry if a few things don’t go so well). You’re away from home and figuring out life for yourself—enjoy it a little.
If you haven’t already, get your books—Whether you buy, rent, or borrow, have your books before classes start. In college things move at a fast pace, and while some professors spend the first couple classes (mostly in 4-5 class periods a weeks courses) on the syllabus and ice-breakers, others gloss over the syllabus and get right to work. I saw people get their books two or three weeks into a semester and suffer for it. Even if the professor decides not to use the books on their course listing, get ‘m now and be prepared.
Good luck this year!