Get back into the swing of things as we get started on a new semester. You can get this semester started the right way by following some of these hot tips for your first week back.
11 Tips for the First Week of Class
The first day of class is a great opportunity to get a sense of whether or not the course is right for you. The professor will make important announcements about the structure of the course, major assignments and how to get in touch with him or her. This will all be included in the all-important syllabus. He or She may also assign presentation dates or project groups. If you miss these important first steps, you’ll be playing catch up all semester and that is never a good way to get started.
Everyone gets sick from time to time. Everyone has off days, or vacations, or bad weather. If you have to miss a class, it’s great to have someone you can rely on to fill you in. Introduce yourself to at least one of your classmates in all of your courses. Exchange email addresses or phone numbers. You can share notes later in the semester, study together or work together on group projects. It’s always worth it to have an ace in the hole.
It’s never too soon to get in touch with your professor and TA. Ask a question after class or visit their first office hours. Again, look for it in the syllabus. Your professor will become a valuable resource when you are working on assignments or preparing for tests later in the semester. Building relationships with professors can also pay off down the road when you are looking for research opportunities, career advice or a letter of recommendation.
Think carefully about whether each course is right for you. Are you interested in the material? Do you need the credits for a degree requirement? Does the learning style work for you (i.e. lecture, discussion-format, writing-intensive)? If the course really doesn’t seem right for you, switch it as soon as possible. Make sure to check drop dates so you don’t receive a W on your transcript.
After the first class, take a quick look through any course materials. Flip through any textbooks, articles or assigned readings. This will help you get a sense of how to complete readings later in the semester. It’s also a good idea to visit the course website via emuonline.
You know that piece of paper your professor handed out during the first class? It’s the most useful thing you will get all semester. Taking a close look at the syllabus can save lots of hassle later. Check out the mark breakdown to figure out how to manage your priorities. Write down the professor’s contact information and office hours.
Don’t put that syllabus away just yet. Make sure to enter any assignment deadlines or test dates in your calendar. You should also keep an eye out for any classes that are cancelled in advance or any special dates like field trips. Put key dates in your calendar as soon as possible so you don’t have to worry about forgetting something important later in the term.
Depending on how your courses are structured, you may want to block of some regular times to tackle reoccurring work. If you will discuss readings in all of your Friday tutorials, plan a regular chunk of time earlier in the week to complete all of the necessary reading. If you have to submit a short reaction paper every Monday, set aside two hours every Sunday morning to get it done. Building these regular time blocks into your schedule will help you immeasurably.
It’s not too early to scope out a quiet place where you’ll do your studying. And when you get there, turn off the gadgets. Texting, cell phones, IM, Facebook, and Twitter are responsible for more bad grades in college than all the parties combined. Study tables in Halle are always a great solution if you’re looking for a place to get some real work done.
Goals will help you stay focused and motivated in your course. Try and focus on what you want to learn from the course rather than a specific grade. You can set goals like “master the basics of cognitive psychology,” focus on skills like “figure out how to cite in Chicago format,” or even strive for something like “eat breakfast before all 8:00am lectures.” Review your goals throughout the term and reward yourself for staying on track. Don’t be afraid to adjust goals as the semester continues.
It may seem silly to start working on assignments so early, but you’ll thank yourself later. By accomplishing a small piece of your big assignments in the first week of class you’ll build confidence and momentum. It doesn’t have to be a lot of work. Starting can be as simple as coming up with a simple time table for the semester’s big projects, brainstorming some topic ideas for a paper or spending 20 minutes in Halle browsing some general research resources.