Some of you may have started classes days ago; others may have just have a few short moments of freedom left. Either way the Fall 2012 semester is upon us. Fall behind during the first week and you'll find yourself playing catch up until December. The GlamNERDS are here to make sure that you start the semester the right way.
- Show up- Many students make their first mistake by skipping the first class. We’ve heard it (and probably said it) a thousand times "You never really do anything on the first day of class. “ It’s always a flip of the coin. Sometimes you’ll go in, the professor will introduce him/herself, hand out the syllabi, have you fill out an information index card and send you on your merry way. Other times, the professor will fulfill these tasks in the first 15 minutes of class and then dive right into the first class lecture/discussion. You never know how the coin will fall so, just to go to class. Get out of bed, get dressed and get yourself in the practice of getting to class on time. You can bet, the tougher the course content, the more likely your professor will want to get started on the first day. Miss the first lecture, when the fundamentals and basics are covered and you run the risk of being completely clueless for the remainder of course. #jussayin.
- Really Read the Syllabus- It’s likely that the Professor will go over it the first day but give your syllabus a thorough read through on your own. Your syllabus will explain course content, course structure and course requirements. It will identify what readings are required vs. recommended, when assignments are due and tell you exactly what is necessary for you succeed. Will you have to write papers weekly? Will there be quizzes, or is your total grade based on a midterm and a final? It's best to know the answers to these questions upfront so that you can plan how to manage you time, energy and efforts. Also, pay attention to the scheduling of courses and how (and if) your professors grade your attendance and class participation. I’m not one to tell you to skip class but life happens and sometimes you won't be able to make every class. The syllabus will tell you what classes you need not miss vs when an absence is not that serious.
- Use Your Syllabus in Planning your Semester- Get your calendar, planner, cell phone, or however you keep track of important dates and make note of deadlines for all major papers/projects/assignments and scheduled exams. This will help you plan and structure your other responsibilities around your coursework. For example, if you know you’ll have a heavy week of exams or papers or a group project, you can cut back on your hours at work, or know not to plan a road trip the weekend before, etc. You’re in college now. Don’t rely on you professor to remind you of these things. Usually, they won't.
- First Impressions are Everything- Remember, first impressions are lasting ones. If you spend the entire first class tweeting, napping, doodling or just looking, you may have set yourself up. Your professor/TA could very well think you're a slacker and you’ll be working the entire semester to disprove that label. Even in huge lecture classes, professors can spot and remember students. Be prepared for your first day and be remembered for the right reasons. Try to get there on time, don’t sit in the back, pay attention and look engaged (even if you aren’t). You don’t have to be extra in order to make a good first impression. It could be as simple as going up and introducing yourself to the professor before or after class. Set yourself apart, the right way, and it will pay off. Trust me.
- The Textbook Hustle- There are several posts about textbooks on TheGlamNERDS.com. But sharing ways to saving a coin when purchasing school supplies and course materials is information that bears repeating. In this case, I advise students to take time at the start of the semester to use you syllabus to refine your textbook shopping list. Don't buy books if you don't have to. Reading your syllabi will let you know if you’re going to be reading an entire book or just reading certain chapters/sections. If you will only be reading three to four chapters of a book, see if your campus library has book and take it out and make copies. You could even approach the professor and see if he/she can put those chapters on E-Reserve so you can access the readings online and print them out. Also, check bulletin boards and Facebook to see if others in your network have taken a class and wouldn’t mind letting you borrow the book for a semester or selling it to you for a better price. If you’re cool with your professor, you could even ask him/her if they have an extra copy of the book that you could use for the semester. Publishers typically send them extra copies and if you play your cards right you can get one. Think quick, think smart, it may save you a dime or two. SEARCH the GlamNERDS for the Textbook Hustle BlogPost for more information.
I hope this helps. Here's too a super successful semester for us all.