With Labor Day behind us and summer “officially” coming to an end, it’s time for college students to head back to campus and start hitting the books. From fresh-eyed first-years to seasoned seniors, the first days of classes always prove to be a challenge: in one day, you have to go from weeks of rest and relaxation to a daily academic grind. To avoid a rocky start, follow these steps to a blunder-free first day!
1. Know where your classes are. It may seem obvious, but check where your classes are going to be held. Too many times, students (myself included) walk in late to their first class, with embarrassed looks on their faces, as the rest of their classmates look on. If you’re unfamiliar with the campus, grab a map and some walking shoes and give yourself a mini tour, scoping out the buildings and classrooms you’ll be in for the next few months.
2. Check the class website – there may be homework due! It’s a grim reality, but yes, some professors do assign work to be completed by the first lecture. Familiarize yourself with your class’ websites, take a peek at the syllabi, download class lectures and start filling in your iCal or planner with important academic dates, like midterms, paper due dates and finals.
3. Don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbor. Your next-door (or next-desk) neighbors are in the same boat as you, attending the same lectures, completing the same assignments, readings and papers. Chat up the people sitting next to you; it’s a lot easier to survive in a class when you have study buddies!
4. Bring your laptop to class. Though you may expect a basic overview on your first day, many professors quickly breeze through the introductions and head straight into the course material. Have your fully-charged laptop or tablet (or, if you’re old-school, notebook and pen) at hand so you can take down notes.
5. Schedule a visit to your college or departmental counselor. While it doesn’t have to be on the first day, definitely drop by the office of your academic counselors early on in the year! If you’re confused as to what classes you still need to take to complete your requirements and don’t want to be caught by surprise when graduation rolls around, it never hurts to ask the experts!
6. Find your niche beyond academics! Though you may be in school to get a degree, don’t drown yourself in academics; it’s all about balance! Head over to the clubs and activities fairs during the first weeks of classes and go to any meetings or events that pique your interest. It’s a great way to meet new people and to get yourself engaged in something outside of the classroom! College is one of the most opportune times to discover more about yourself, don’t let it go to waste!