Ensure you make the most of your classes and professors, starting from your very first day of each course.
Nothing makes a worse impression than strolling in late. Especially for the first class, you should make an extreme effort to be punctual. Set three (or more!) alarms if that’s what it takes to wake up early, particularly if you have a morning class. Head to class with fifteen or twenty minutes to spare in case other students had the same idea. If you’re too early, you can wander around, read, or grab a coffee. However, if you’re late, you’ll have no choice but to draw attention as you enter. Making an enemy of your professor on the first day is not something I recommend. Additionally, finding a seat could be a hassle if you arrive late.
Do you drift off easily? Consider sitting in the front. Do you doodle to pay attention? The back may be your best bet in order to avoid censure from your professor. Are you prone to chatting? Sit near someone you don’t know, or take your own row. It may seem antisocial, but you should be paying attention in class no matter what it takes. Also, consider your schedule. If you have a class in ten minutes across campus, you’ll need to be near the door in order to run out as soon as class is dismissed.
Unless you have no choice, giving yourself at least half an hour between classes will maximize your chance to be on time and ask questions after class (one of the best ways to distinguish yourself).
You may have more freedom to organize your notes in college. Your professor likely won’t require a binder or folder, leaving you with more options. The first day of class is usually unofficially deemed “Syllabus Day” and you’ll almost definitely receive a syllabus. For this reason, a folder or something to organize and hold papers is a necessity. If the class has handouts, keep them. Use an accordion folder, folder connected to a notebook, or binder. Don’t just stuff your papers into your bag – these are important documents you’ll need to keep intact because you’re going to need to refer to all year long If you’re taking notes by hand, bring extra pens or pencils. You don’t want to disrupt a quiet classroom by asking for a pen. However, there will be someone who does forget their writing utensils. Bringing extras and lending them yours is a great way to make friends. If you’re willing to keep up with a key to organize your notes, bring highlighters. If you won’t lose notes, or are very organized, consider keeping them all in one notebook, using a website like StudyBlue, or downloading a study app, like Evernote.
You probably won’t be tested on anything you learn the first day. Some professors merely use the first class as a way to pique their students’ interests. Certain classes have a maximum number of absent days, so you’ll want to keep track of your sick days. Other classes tend to remain in the same seating configuration as the first day. Thus, you don’t want to come in late or sit next to distracting friends. Tell your friends ahead of time so they don’t think you’re ignoring them. For days you may miss, you will need to obtain the notes somehow. Gone are the days of obtaining your notes from teachers (like in middle school). Spotting a possible source for notes in the class, whether the person is a potential friend or just an acquaintance, can save you from missing out. If you’re short on funds, you can often wait until the first class to see if the professor will utilize every text on the reading list. Listen closely so you don’t have to waste precious travel or music festival funds. Put away your phone, especially if the class has less than thirty people. This is your time to make professional and social connections (and to learn a thing or two). Your first day is your professor’s first impression of you. Don’t show up in your pajamas or fall asleep before everyone’s seated.
Most importantly, be there. Your first day of the course is probably one of the most important days of the course, apart from exam days. Some students actually believe that the first day of class isn’t important because you don’t actually “learn anything,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. They argue that students who enroll later are able to catch on. However, these students who enroll late in the course are only able to catch up because the professor helps them by giving them the necessary information – if you’re already enrolled, you will not have this luxury. Vital information will come your way the first day – use this to your advantage to map out your game plan for the course. You can use the first day to feel out the professor, the course material and, often times, the professor will divulge information about the exam formats, quizzes and other class policies. This is all important information you don’t want to miss – so make your first day of class count!