You just wrapped up high school, summer has flown by and college is starting. Now how do you prepare for the first day of classes?
The most important thing to consider is that college classes will be a different experience when compared to your high school classes.
Here are some of the key things you should know before taking your first college course:
1. Arrive early.
This was also true in high school, but it carries a bit more weight in college. You are brand new to campus and probably have no idea how to get around, so plan an extra 20-30 minutes for any aimless wandering that may occur before making it into the classroom.
This also gives you some time to scope out the room, land a good seat and get your materials together so you are fully prepared and not distracted when the class starts.
2. There might be homework due.
Don’t be the one who gets blindsided when the professor jumps into a discussion about the assigned reading you didn’t know was assigned. It is common for college professors to expect you to have an assignment completed for the first day of class, as they often like to get right into the material.
These “pre-first day” assignments are typically given via e-mail, posted online or printed on the syllabus — so keep a lookout.
3. Bring your laptop — if you can handle it.
While using your laptop in class is often frowned upon in high school, it isn’t so taboo in college — in fact, many professors encourage it. Using your laptop is a fast and simple way to take notes, keep up with PowerPoint slides and look up key information for discussion.
However, it is crucial that you don’t abuse this by scrolling through your Facebook feed during the class. If you know you do not possess the needed self-discipline, leave the laptop at home.
4. Keep up with the professor.
Especially in larger classes, professors will not have the time to stop mid-lecture or mid-discussion just to make sure you’re caught up. You may be used to a more relaxed environment where teachers are able to spend more time explaining concepts, but in college, they have their own plan for what to cover that day and will be sticking to it.
Be ready to pay close attention and jot down anything that might need clarification.
5. Be prepared to actually work.
In high school, the first day of classes usually meant playing a few ice-breaker games and going over the class syllabus. While those two things may still occur on the first day of college classes, they will be sped through in order to begin the aforementioned work, so be sure to have your academic mindset ready.
Show up with all the materials you need in order to be productive.
6. Have an open mind about your classmates.
This can help immensely when it comes to succeeding in the course. Don’t shut out any potential social connections in the classroom just because you’re happy with the dormmates or orientation buddies you’ve already met. These peers could form a great study group and be just the kind of quick support you need when an assignment makes no sense one night.
Never underestimate the ability of strong classmates to make a class experience easier. You can undoubtedly get lost in a college course when you’re completely on your own.
7. Start taking notes immediately.
The first day of any college class is filled with valuable information. Professors may explain what their teaching method is like, how to best contact them with questions or what opportunities they offer for extra credit. These pieces of information can be some of the most important factors in succeeding in a particular professor’s class.
Remember, they are choosing to emphasize this information on the first day for a reason, so take the time to understand who they are as people and how you should approach the class. It will make a significant impact on your experience, and likely, your final grade.
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