5 things to do on the first day of college classes
College campuses are starting to come alive after another summer comes to a close. With a fresh schedule of classes, you may find yourself a little anxious. Will I get a good grade in X class? What if the professor hates me? What if I can’t focus because the material is so boring?
It’s normal to have these kinds of questions before the semester starts. And it’s important to get off on the right foot to ease the stress and feel more prepared for the semester ahead.
Whether you are a first-year college student or a super senior, making an impression on the first day of classes is important. Set yourself up for success with these five helpful tips.
1. Bring (at least) a notebook.
Optional: bring your laptop or table to take notes. Just keep in mind that some professors don’t allow note-taking on electronic devices, as computer screens can easily cause a distraction. It’s best to have at least a notebook and a writing utensil.
Even though the first week is “syllabus week,” and you may think it’s unlikely you’ll have to take an excessive amount of notes, be prepared anyway. Strolling into the first day of class with no backpack, no notebook, and no pen is a surefire way to NOT impress your professors. Plus, you’ll probably receive a hard copy of the course syllabus in all of your classes, so it’s good to have a notebook (even better, a notebook with a built-in folder) to store them in.
2. Introduce yourself to the professor.
We know—this might sound a little ambitious. But depending on the size of your college or university and the courses you’re taking, you may be one student among 300 in a lecture. These large classes can be tough, particularly if you are easily distracted or want your voice to be heard.
One of the best ways to stand out in a large lecture class is to introduce yourself to your professor. This means physically walking up to Professor X and shaking his/her hand—although an email is a nice gesture, you want your professor to remember your name and your face. You want to make a lasting impression so that your professor recognizes you when they look into a pool of hundreds of other students.
Introducing yourself on the first day will make you feel more comfortable asking questions during class, or visiting office hours to get help before an exam.
3. Sit front and center.
Again… a little ambitious. Front and center in a lecture hall isn’t an ideal location for many college students—but that’s what makes YOU different from everyone else. Sitting in the front puts you in the best position to pay attention to the course material. The back row allows you to look at everyone else in the classroom, which is fun, but also pretty distracting.
This may seem scary or intimidating at first. You might even feel like you’re trying way too hard (ahem, freshmen), but trust us; you’re over-analyzing it. And once you establish a front row seat on the first day, you’ll feel so much more confident about sitting there for the rest of the semester.
Of course, the front row doesn’t have to be a permanent spot — just feel it out for the first day or two and see how it feels.
4. Read the entire course syllabus.
In college, your course syllabus is pretty much a lifeline. You most likely won’t have anyone to remind you to complete an assignment before class or study a week before a midterm. The syllabus will also tell you how to contact your professor or visit their office hours.
Course syllabi give you everything you need to know about a class, and you are responsible for all of it. Make sure you read through each syllabus thoroughly, and ask questions right away if you need clarification. If you put off reading the syllabus, you may be missing valuable information that could save you a bad grade or two.
To take this to the next level, copy all the important due dates and assignments from each syllabus into your planner. This way, you won’t have to refer to five different syllabi to find what’s due this week—it will all be in one place.
5. Make new connections.
A new friend in class = a new study buddy. This may not be your highest priority on the first day of class, but you’ll appreciate your study buddy when it comes down to missing a class or understanding the material before an exam.
You don’t have to have a deep, hour-long conversation with this person on the first day, but at least establish a connection. This can be as simple as making small talk to the person sitting next to you. Here are a couple conversation starters:
“Have you heard anything about this professor?”
“Have you heard anything about how hard this class is supposed to be?”
Make sure you keep in contact with this person as the semester progresses. You may even be surprised and end up with a new friend!
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