Here are a few ideas for helping you feel more comfortable and prepared during your first week or two of classes:
- Introduce yourself to at least one other person in your class: This could be the person sitting beside you…remember, that you are not the only one with the first day jitters, most people in the class will not know each other…reach out, say hi and exchange email addresses/phone numbers. This could be a great way for you to connect in the future if you need to share notes or study together.
- Get to know your professor/instructor: Even though it may seem nerve-wracking, approach your prof after class to ask a question or visit his/her office hours. A good relationship with your professor can help you down the road when you are looking for reference letters or research opportunities.
- Review the syllabus for the course: This is that piece of paper your prof handed out during the first class and serves as a roadmap for your learning in this class. Check out the assignment due dates, mark breakdowns and any resources listed. Write down these important dates in your planner right away, this will help you stay on track with assignments (Check out this handy Assignment Calculator...a time management tool that helps you break your projects down into manageable steps). You can also find out your prof’s contact info and office hours on this sheet of paper.
- Block off regular times to study in your schedule: Know when you need to have readings and mini assignments done and then block off consistent weekly times in your schedule (usually chunks of time are best e.g. 1.5-3 hours) so that you know you can dedicate this time to be prepared…it will help you stay on track.
- Start your big assignments as soon as you can: It may seem daunting at first, but getting a head start on these bigger projects will help you in the long run. Even coming up with a rough timeline for completing the project is a great start (remember that helpful Assignment Calculator, try using it for this!). Other great ways to start a big assignment include brainstorming some topic ideas or even spending 20 minutes in the library looking at general research resources.
- Try out different study spaces/strategies: Maybe you already know where you tend to study best? Perhaps it’s on your own in a library cubicle, or in a group setting in the dining hall…most first year students don’t know though at this point and need to take some time exploring different study areas on campus or off campus to find out what feels right and where they feel most productive. Connect with your classmates so that you can try a study group, see how that works for you…make sure that you find a bit of quiet reading time too though. Most students need a combination of different approaches in order to be able to get through the reading related to courses and then work through the material/problem solving in groups.
We hope that these tips will help you think about your approach to your first few classes!
Do you have other tips you’d recommend? We’d love to hear from you!
-By Pam Core (Reference: ’10 Tips for the First Week of Class’, The University of British Columbia: UBC Learning Commons, Aug. 29, 2012: http://learningcommons.ubc.ca/10-tips-for-the-first-week-of-class/)