You’ve just finished high school, summer is flying by and college is just around the corner. So … how do you prepare for the first day of school?
Here are some of the key things you should know before starting your first college course:
- Arrives soon
This was also true in high school, but it carries a little more weight in college. You are new to campus and probably have no idea how to get around, so plan an extra 10-15 minutes for any aimless wandering that may occur before you get to the classroom.
This will also give you some time to explore the room, get a good spot and get the material out so that you are fully prepared and not distracted when the class begins.
- There may be unfinished business
It is common for college professors to expect you to have completed an assignment by the first day of class, as they often like to dig deeper into the material.
These “pre-first day” assignments are usually emailed, posted online or printed in the syllabus, so keep an eye out for them.
- Bring your laptop, if you can use it
Using your laptop is a quick and easy way to take notes, keep up with PowerPoint slides and find key information to discuss.
However, it is crucial not to abuse this by surfing the net during class. If you know you lack the necessary self-discipline, leave the laptop at home.
- Keep up to date with the teacher.
Especially in larger classes, professors won’t have time to stop in the middle of a class or discussion just to make sure you’re up to speed. You may be used to a more relaxed environment where professors can spend more time explaining concepts, but in college, they have their own plan for what to cover that day and they will follow it.
Be prepared to pay close attention and write down anything that may need clarification.
- Be open-minded about your classmates
This can help enormously in succeeding in the course. Don’t exclude any potential social connections in the class just because you’re happy with the dorm mates or orientation partners you’ve already met. These buddies could form a great study group and be the kind of quick support you need when some homework doesn’t make sense one night.
Never underestimate the ability of strong classmates to facilitate the classroom experience. You can certainly get lost in a college course when you are all alone.
- Start taking notes immediately
The first day of any college class is full of valuable information. Teachers can explain what their teaching method is like, how best to contact them if you have questions, or what opportunities they offer for extra credit. These data may be some of the most important factors for success in a particular teacher’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 a person and how you should approach the class. It will have a significant impact on your experience and, probably, on your final grade.