When preparing for your first year of college, you’ll often hear the old cliché that education is a marathon, not a race. I’m here to tell you today that it’s both.
The first week for both new and veteran students is often dismissed as a week that you can blow off. The homework is usually easily completed or nonexistent, the discussions in class are generally surface level and many teachers are more forgiving of mistakes made as we dust off the mental cobwebs we’ve accumulated over the summer.
Often, the first week of school is used by students to party and socialize, myself included. However, the first week could very well be one of the most important weeks of your school year.
On the first day of class, you’ll receive a syllabus, and on this will be contact information and most likely a reading/homework schedule. The best thing you can possibly do is get a jump start on your reading/homework and keep in contact your professor.
The reason for this is simple—it’ll make a lasting impression on your professor. With giant, 200-person classes, instructors will have little to no chance of actually learning your name or engaging with you on a personal level, unless you make the effort to get in touch with them.
There is no better time to start that process than before everyone is in full gear. Your teacher will be required to hold office hours which no one will show up to because nothing is due for that class, and no one needs the professor’s help. If you show up and have at least started some of the reading/homework, it’s likely that you will be remembered by your professor. You’ll make a great first impression which can make all of the difference when you’re begging for that .2-percent grade bump at the end of the semester.
If you find yourself in a smaller class where the professor will inevitably learn your name, it is still advisable that you come by and introduce yourself. It can be rough to stand out at the start of the semester, especially when no one else raises their hand to answer a question and the teacher begins a round of calling-on-a-student roulette.
But your grades will likely improve, and you’ll be forced to engage in the class anyway—so why not make an impression that will help you when you’re begging for a grade bump?
While it is important to get an early lead, remember to keep it once you gain it. Three months of class is a long time. Slacking off can easily outweigh a great first impression, but getting a slight jump on your homework and making a personal connection to the people who will decide your GPA is a great first step to take.
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