Alright future freshmen. The time has come to close one chapter of your life (high school) and begin a brand new one. Yes, college is an incredibly fun experience. Especially when it’s your first time being away from home. The dorms, the people, the parties, the food; it’s all super fun and exciting. But let’s not forget the real reason for why we attend college: to get good grades and leave with a degree!
While I’m sure you’re already mentally and physically preparing yourself for all the social aspects that college will bring, it’s also time to keep in mind the other crucial part of college: class! Before you head out to your first college class in the fall, keep these tips in mind so you can be fully prepared for class and start your semester off strong.
1. CHECK YOUR COLLEGE EMAIL
Typically, before a semester will begin, your professor (get used to calling them “professor” now) will send out an email welcoming you to their section. The email will most likely give some background on what you will be learning in the class and what your professor will expect of you as their student. Also, your professor may include the textbooks needed for the class. Be sure to order them ahead of time; they may start using the book the second or third day of class!
2. THERE MAY BE HOMEWORK DUE (YES, ALREADY)
This kind of goes along with the first point. In that welcome email, your professor will state if they expect you to read a book over the summer, or to take notes from a textbook before the first day of class. Keep this in mind, as you most definitely want to stay on your professor’s good side, and not give them the wrong idea about the student you are if you’re constantly missing homework. Start with your best foot forward, try your best to impress your teacher with your excellent time management skills (you never know when you’ll need a recommendation…).
3. BE OPEN-MINDED ABOUT YOUR CLASSMATES
Colleges tend to be an extremely diverse environment. Walking into your first day of classes and realizing you’re not going to see your BFFs from high school may freak you out at first. That’s totally natural and okay, but don’t close yourself off to new people. College is the best time to open up, start fresh and create a new, diverse group of friends. Everyone has a really interesting story to tell; I suggest you listen to as many as possible. You’ll be surprised who will end up being your friends 4 or 5 weeks down the road.
4. PARTICIPATION IS HUGE
Whether it’s a small class or a lecture, a professor will always be able to point out and recognize those who actively participate and seem engaged. As you’ll soon learn, most classes use 10-15% of the final grade as participation. Do you raise your hand? Do you work well in a group? Do you do your homework? It’s always awkward if a professor asks a question and no one raises their hand. Be that person to speak up, you and your professor will be so glad you did. Never feel intimidated. Just think about all of the people in the room who probably have the same comment or question as you.
5. SIT IN THE FRONT OF THE ROOM
This rule also applies in high school as well, but is MUCH more important when you’re in college. Lecture halls sometimes have between 100-300 people in them. If you’re sitting all the way in the back, where your professor can’t see you and you can’t see them, think how much work you’re going to get done… NONE. Be sure to sit in the front of the classroom. Knowing that the teacher can see you will limit your phone usage during class, and will keep you more engaged as the professor may call on you or make eye contact with you since you’re within reach. It’s also easier to take notes when sitting in the front, that way you never miss a word and aren’t distracted by people in the back who may not take the class as seriously.