4 Things to Do the First Week of Classes

Ready or not, here come the first week of classes! While it may seem like you just sat down for your last final exams, there are plenty of things to start doing the first week of classes, like going back-to-school shopping for new study supplies and re-starting those morning alarms. But if you want this semester to be your best one ever, you need to kick off some more in-depth initiatives the first week of classes to ensure you start off strong. By doing the following four things the first week of classes, you’ll lay the foundation for a stellar continuation of the school year.

1. Meet with your instructors the first week of classes

It can be easy to avoid one-on-one contact with your new teachers or professors until you absolutely need their help, and many students end up taking this approach. However, one of the best things you can do during your first week of classes is establish a relationship with your instructors so they know your face and name. Visit your professors’ office hours to introduce yourself, and let them know how excited you are for the spring semester. A little effort can go a long way! Face-to-face time with your instructor is necessary for a great student-teacher rapport, and that can later lead to more effective assistance with exam prep, or perhaps a needed letter of recommendation.

2. During your first week of classes, evaluate and make new goals

Before you decide how you’re going to make your new semester a great one, you need to evaluate how your last semester went. To start, make a list of things that went well: Did you get great grades on your papers? Did you do a good job balancing your school work with your internship or part-time job? Next, think about specifically what you did to be good at those things—these strategies, habits, and tactics are what you should make a point to continue into the new semester.

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After that part of your self-reflection is complete, consider the things that didn’t go so well. Did you fail to study well ahead of time for midterms and finals? Did you often sleep through your 8a.m. lecture? When you think about the things that didn’t go as well as you hoped, you can identify what negative habits may have contributed to them and make a point to avoid those this semester. Once you’ve completed this part of your self-reflection as well, you can begin to make tailored goals to improve your weak areas and continue to strengthen your positive ones.

3. Master your schedule for your first week of classes

For some students, this may seem like an easy task—but it is still vitally important. Getting used to a new schedule can be difficult, especially for college students who are running between multiple buildings on campus. Classes may be starting way earlier than you’re used to, or ending later into the evening. Knowing when you have time to study is one of the keys to your success this semester. Plan out chunks of time you have on campus that you can spend in the library or at a professor’s office hours, and evaluate how many extracurricular activities you can take on. Ensure you also know exactly where your various classes are on campus—you might have some classes at a new building you’ve never been to before, so consider checking it out on an off day. Don’t wait too long before figuring these things out!

4. Throughout your first week of classes, get ahead where you can

The first week of the semester may be known as syllabus week, when instructors spend the majority of the time reviewing the semester’s schedule and don’t necessarily assign any reading or assignments. Instead of using this down time to completely relax, try to get ahead on some of your reading, or start an organizational system to get all of your assignment deadlines and test dates in place. Get these things laid out in a planner or calendar now so you won’t have to worry about figuring them out later when you’re busy with all of your classwork. Double-check that you have the following items as well:

  • required textbooks

  • any supplemental materials requested by professors

  • extra pens and pencils

  • notebooks and folders for each class

Lastly, prepare for any other needs you anticipate. Do you know you’ll need a tutor in advanced biology? Look into biology tutoring and start making those arrangements while you have the free time. Hoping to gain the benefits of group studying this year? Start reaching out to classmates to gauge who’s interested. Your future self will thank you!

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