6 Tips for Surviving the First Day of Classes

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You did it. No matter how many times you may have questioned your abilities, you successfully survived high school, and you’ve made it to the next level of education. You may feel like you’re on top of the world, as if the Earth is just resting in the palm of your hand, or on the other end of the spectrum, you may feel like a deer staring straight into headlights, unsure of what college life will have in store for you, moving forth with caution.

Regardless of what you’re feeling, you’re riding in the same boat as everyone else waiting to embark on this new journey. You’re all college freshman entering your first days of classes, and with these few simple guidelines, you will conquer your first syllabus week with confidence and ease.

1. Timing is Everything

Welcome to Syllabus week. Now that you’ve made it to campus, you’re faced with a new and sometimes troubling task: finding your classes. Attempting to find its location 20 minutes prior to that class starting is just poor planning. In the days leading up to your first class, map out the places you need to be, and give yourself a little extra time in case you get a little lost or confused. It never hurt anyone to be a little early. While showing up 15 minutes into your first class will leave an impression, it probably isn’t the one you’re going for.

2. All You Need is a Notebook and Pen

Before you dive headfirst into those large and expensive textbooks, your professors will first layout the course plan for the semester. For your first day, you most likely won’t need to bring every color-coded, organizational item that you bought in the back-to-school section of Office Max. A simple notebook and pen will suffice, at least for the first day of classes. This will allow you to take notes for future reference based on what the professor says will be necessary to bring and based on what is actually written in the syllabus.

3. Keep It Casual

This isn’t your first day of freshman year in high school. No one is expecting you to pull out your nicest attire for your first day of classes. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about competing for best outfit to impress your peers. There are so many of you that no one is really paying any attention to your fancy sundress and bangles. With that said, you should still attempt to make a good first impression on your professors. Therefore, the first day of classes probably isn’t the best day to show up in your pajamas and sweatpants looking like you just rolled out of bed, regardless of whether or not you actually did. When in doubt, jeans and a casual top are always a safe way to go.

4. Front Row Equals 4.0

You may have heard of this before, but it’s for real. First days are all about putting your best foot forward so don’t be afraid to sit closer than you’re typically used to. Now, this doesn’t mean you actually have to be front and center, but placing yourself in a space that will allow you to hear and see the best will only pay off for you in the long run. It’s important to use that first day of class to acquire as much information as possible, thus allowing you to strategize a plan for the rest of your semester.

5. This isn’t a game of 20 questions

While you’re trying to make a good first impression on your professors, asking a million questions on the first day of classes isn’t the way to do it. While many high school teachers preach about participation and many encourage a lot of questions, this isn’t high school. Professors have a lot to get through during syllabus week, and constant interruptions will only make comprehending the course outline more difficult for everyone. Office hours exist for a reason. Use them.

6. Keep Breathing

Lastly, just keep in mind that you’re not going into this alone. This is a new semester for everyone, and for many others just like you this is just the first step in starting your path to a college diploma. So, just breathe. You chose this school for a reason, and this is your opportunity to find out what really interests you; to get involved; and most importantly, to start networking. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible, especially your professors. They’re here to help you succeed, so make sure to take advantage of all of the amazing opportunities that this college life has in store for you. So with that, good luck.

Erin is a broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland. She enjoys acrylic painting, playing piano, and long-distance running. Erin also enjoys skiing and snowboarding in her hometown of Buffalo, New York.

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