Typically, over the first week of class, professors will hand out what seems to be ten million pages of syllabi. They always seem intimidating, at first, especially when you ask a professor a question and their exact response is “read the syllabus”… However, as much as we don’t want to admit it, their seemingly unnecessary comment is actually on point.
Looking back to my freshman year at Tech, I can say I was extremely unorganized. I literally would throw pages into a notebook and call it a day. If a professor ever asked me to look at my syllabus, my response probably would’ve been “just give me a few decades to find it”. Whereas, now, my senior year, I wish I would’ve stapled it to my head just so I knew what was going on!
So, here’s a few tips to get your semester started off right. Whether you’re a freshman or senior, you might be able to benefit from this little lesson.
1. Actually read it
Now, I don’t mean to just pretend you’re paying attention to it while your professor reads word for word but actually read the sections. Even if you don’t retain any of it just yet, I promise, you’ll get a better understanding as to what you’re in for during the semester.
2. Know your professors’ email addresses and office hours
This is a must. We’ve all been there… it’s midnight, at the library, you have a question about a major project due the next day or the exam that’s coming up, but you’re not even sure as to what their name is… so what do you do? Google the staff directory until, ding, ding, ding, you found them! Save yourself the trouble. If you have to add them in your contacts or notes, do it! Also, knowing your professors’ office hours and where it is, is a lifesaver. I, personally, have spent more hours than I could possibly count, visiting with my professors’. Whether it was taking a make-up exam, visiting about a project, or getting revisions on a paper, it was extremely helpful to know when they were available so I could plan in advance.
3. Have a separate calendar with your homework and exam dates written on it
This will always be the most useful tool of being organized throughout each semester of your college career. Once you get your syllabus, write down every due date and such on your calendar as a safe reminder. Call me crazy, but my calendar is color-coded based on what class and if it’s homework or an exam. That may be a little overboard for you, but I dare you to give it a try! If that does not sound appealing, you can also try by adding it into your phone or computer and setting an alert on it. That works too. I do it all the time!
4. Be familiar with the participation and attendance policy
Absolutely, without a doubt, be familiar with the participation and attendance policy. I have found it to be very rare that professors do not take attendance. In all honesty, going to class is very simple. Just being present does more than you think. Yes, I agree, it can be so dreadful to set an alarm for your 8am class but in the long run, it will be so worth it! Want that 4.0 or extra points on your final? Go to class!
5. Just have fun
College is known to be the best years of your life. This is the time where you grow as a person, learn what sort of career path you will follow, and meet the friends you’ll have forever. Prove those words to be right and enjoy your college experience!