Thursday, June 25, 2020

Welcome Week & The First Week of Class (#3)

This is another attempt at a series on my blog, containing advice from my own time at college. This is a series of blog posts (which will be linked as they are posted) intended to help first-year students and freshmen navigate their new settings. This is all written with the hopeful assumption that it will be safe for students to move back into college soon. Each post is limited to seven items in an attempt to provide manageably-sized bits of advice.

Welcome Week and the First Week of Class
1. Walk through your schedule BEFORE classes actually start. 
You will probably be lost your first week of class. That's okay, but you can mitigate this by find your classes before they actually start. Take half an hour or so to find the best route from one class to the next.
2. Actually go to the welcome week events.
You probably won't meet your best friends for the next four(ish) years or have a life-changing experience. Some of the activities will, however, be tons of fun and more importantly, help you situate yourself on campus get more comfortable with the school's spaces and geography.
3. Unpack before classes start.
You will somehow, simultaneously, have a ton of time and no time when classes start. Get most of your unpacking done before this happens.
4. Be on time for class.
This sounds obvious, but it's true. Professors are trying to remember your name, some are really finicky about attendance, and you're paying a lot of money for classes. Particularly for shorter (hour-long) classes, it's really disruptive to roll in super late, and it's not a good first impression.

On the other side of the coin, you don't need to get there crazy early. I'd recommend aiming for 5-10 minutes early, max. It's kind of weird and you'll get pretty bored if you are 15-20 minutes early, unless you have a meeting with the professor or something. 5-10 is good because that's approximately when other folks will likely roll in, so you'll have people to talk to.
5. Read the syllabi BEFORE classes start if possible, or as soon as they are distributed. 
Is it cliche advice? Absolutely. Is it true? Absolutely. It's less likely for lower-level classes and gen-eds, but if a professor posts the syllabus before
6. Talk to upperclassmen about the specific classes and professors you have. 
Not all classes and professors are equally difficult. Some professors have quirks and pet peeves you have no way of knowing about. Some classes use nearly every page of the textbook, others hardly crack them open. This is (one of the reasons) why you should make friends with someone who has had these professors and classes before. It doesn't mean their advice will be perfect or should be taken as the absolute truth, but it can help you figure out how to pronounce the professor's name or if the cheaper, older edition of the textbook is okay.

Most colleges have "peer mentor" programs or something similar. Does ever upperclassman want to help you? No. Do the people in the peer mentor or orientation programs want to help you? Yes. And even if they can't help you, they'll have friends they can refer you to.
7. Check with the professors which textbook version is okay, and if you need an access code.
If you don't need an access code, you can often get a textbook that's 2-3 editions back, and significantly cheaper.

Have fun with the first days of school, and stay safe!

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