Your First Week: College Survival Guide

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    The stressful part is over: you’ve enrolled, gone to orientation, made all of your payments, and moved into your new residence or prepared for your commute. Here are some guidelines on what the first week will be like and how to prepare for it. 

    How To Prepare

    • Your school likely has a service it uses to handle grades and classes, such as Blackboard. Your classes will usually be posted a week or so before class starts. The class pages may look pretty empty, but there’s usually a syllabus posted before class starts. Log in and take a look, especially if it’s your first time using it. This will tell you what to expect from the class and if you need to do anything before your first day. 
    • Don’t worry about getting any textbooks that are recommended in the syllabus, it’s usually easier to wait a week and see what each professor says about the textbook. Otherwise, you might be wasting your money on something that’s “recommended.”
    • Take a walk around campus to find your classrooms and see how long it takes to walk between them. If the buildings are locked, at least make sure you know where they are. This might seem silly to do, but it’s all about reducing the stress during the first week when there’s already so much on your mind. 
    • Lay out your clothes, plan how early you have to wake up and how long it’ll take you to get ready. You’re better off waking up 30 minutes earlier than you have to and easing into a timely routine.

    What to Expect

    • One of the first strange things you’ll experience is that the professors aren’t as warm and welcoming as high school teachers. On the first day, the professors will be focused on starting content and explaining the class and the grading system. They might not tell you anything about themselves, like where they went to school and what their research interests are. They might not even go over the syllabus and just tell you it’s online for you to look at.
    • Sometimes they’ll do their first lecture and then go over the syllabus at the very end where they’ll talk more directly to you about the class and what to expect. They use this as an attempt to be engaging and start chugging through content without a lot of syllabus questions.
    • Homework and quizzes will be planned right away, even during the first lecture. It might be intimidating, but usually professors are organized, so they’ll give you plenty of time to prepare and give you exact due dates.
    • Some professors are so organized they’ll have each lesson, homework, quiz, and test planned out on the syllabus, so be sure to keep track of the syllabuses throughout the semester as sort of class-specific calendars. 
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    Sean Fowler


    Aerospace Engineering at UMD, intending to specialize in aeronautics with a focus on aerospace structures and design.



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