My first week of college–once a blur, now a distant memory. Since then, however, I’ve watched hundreds of students successfully navigate this bewildering week. A week that involves not only moving away from home, but also encountering new authorities, making new friends, and facing new responsibilities.
How do you survive such a week? I’d suggest several things: planning ahead, maximizing resources, and pressing on.
How should you plan? Even before coming onto campus, you should take several steps to get ready for your first week.
For instance, if you’re able to schedule your classes early, you should purchase your textbooks as soon as possible and become familiar with your class schedule. Once you’re on campus, you should locate those classes–at least on a campus map–in the days before classes begin.
And as soon as you’re connected to class resources, which are often provided online, check your syllabi to plan for any assignments due during the first week. As the first week begins, you’ll be grateful for the time you’ve spent getting ready for classes.
Once into your first week, I’d recommend that you maximize your resources by reading your syllabi, meeting your professors, and connecting with your classmates.
Why should you read your syllabi? Aside from being the “contract” for the course between the professor and students, a course syllabus will…
- provide information about textbooks and meeting times and locations,
- inform you of the professor’s attendance policy and late-work policy,
- let you know what assignments you’ll need to do during the semester, and
- help you understand the professor’s grading practices.
In addition to these things, a course syllabus may help you connect with other resources, such as a professor’s office hours, study group meetings, and online study resources.
After you learn how to best contact your professors in your course syllabus or during class, consider making appointments to meet them. Most professors keep regular offices hours, times when you can speak personally with your professors to ask questions or seek help. When you meet with your professors for the first time, strive to make a great impression by being polite, asking relevant questions, and remaining brief.
Early and ongoing good interactions with your professors will help you build a rapport with them that may incline them to help you in the future–when you really need it!
During your first week, be sure to maximize “resources” by connecting with your classmates.
For instance, offer to exchange contact information with a few classmates so you can help each other keep up with class requirements. With such connections, you can compare class notes, check your understanding of concepts, and study for tests together.
Classmates you’ve connected with can also help you know what you’ve missed if you were unable to attend a class session.
Finally, after planning ahead for the first week and maximizing your resources during the first week, you simply need to press on. Realize that the discomfort and confusion you’re facing during the first week will dissipate.
Remember that you’ll eventually replace the support system you’ve lost by moving from home.
Although the first week can be daunting, know that you’ll make it through college by keeping your eye on the goal while tackling your objectives one day at a time. Press on!
Having been born abroad and raised in different cultures, Lyle Witt has enjoyed spending much of his career supporting international students. After earning a M.A. in Education from a state university, Lyle taught international students in college prep programs at a community college and university before joining the faculty at a regionally accredited college, where he serves as a division chair and assistant professor.
When he can, Lyle spends time reading, gardening, and disc golfing. He also enjoys camping, hiking, and mountain biking. While not teaching, he finds it a refreshing change to work with his hands, building decks, repairing houses, and fixing things.
Lyle is blessed to be a husband, father of two sons and two daughters, and a follower of Christ.