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Graduate Degree Programs

Top 5 Things to Do on Your First Day of a College Class

What steps should you take to start off a new college class on the right foot? Whether you’re an online learner or take classroom-based courses, these tips can help you on your first day in your efforts to earn an ‘A’ in the course.

A photo showing a college student wearing a backpack and attending a college class on the first dayRemember your first day of school when you were a kid? If you were like a lot of children, you likely felt both excited about the new year ahead, while also having a little bit of anxiety because you didn’t quite know what to expect. Well, the same thing can happen in college.

Additionally, how you handle your first day of class can have a direct impact on how well the remainder of the course goes. So, what are some things you can do on day number one to make your semester—and the remainder of your educational pursuit—more successful?

1. Be on time (which means early).

One of the quickest ways to get behind in your college courses is to show up late for class. This is even more detrimental on the first day because not being on time gives the instructor (and other students) the impression that you’re either irresponsible, disorganized, disinterested, or a combination of all of these.

Being on time is equally as important if you’re taking your classes online. Although you may not have a designated day and time to appear in a physical classroom, if you wait until the last minute to log in and start working on the course, it could impact your success as well.

For these reasons, take the steps necessary to make sure you’re not only on time, but early, for your classes. In a physical setting, this means leaving home with enough time to account for traffic, parking, and walking to classes so you can arrive at least 15 minutes before it starts.

If you’re taking your courses online, at least log in on the first day they’re available. This enables you to take a look around and get a better feel for what your classes entail. It also shows that you’re committed enough to your education to put in the time and effort necessary to make your time learning a success.

2. Show up prepared.

If you showed up to a cooking class without the required ingredients, how successful would you be at baking the dessert of the day? Not very. That’s why you always want to be prepared.

In college, this involves having something with you to take notes. Depending on your personal preference, this may require making sure you have pen and paper, or it could involve ensuring that you have a digital note recording system.

Other ways to increase your preparedness include looking over any pre-released class materials, such as a syllabus or recommended reading list. The more you know what is expected of you, the greater your likelihood of success in that class.

3. Connect with other students.

Talk to any successful person and they’ll tell you that they didn’t get where they are without help. That’s why it is so important on your first day of college to make connections with other students. Together, you can all propel each other forward as the class progresses.

If you’re taking on-campus classes, make it a goal to talk to at least two other students before the instructor begins. Introduce yourself and ask a couple of questions to learn more about who they are. For instance, you could ask why they’re taking the class or their ultimate career goals.

In online courses, you can do the same type of thing by publishing an introductory post on the classroom discussion board. At the end of your post, encourage other students to connect with you or to share a little bit about themselves too.

Making these connections on the first day will make it easier to go to your fellow students later to share ideas, work on group projects, or to ask questions clarifying anything you don’t understand.

Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to be social. Even though you’re getting your education, this doesn’t mean that process can’t also be fun!

4. Ask questions.

Speaking of asking questions, if there is anything at all you are unclear about on your first day of class, ask. The sooner you clear up any misunderstandings, the better because the last thing you want to do is be halfway through an exercise or project just to learn that you are way off course.

Ideally, your questions should be directed toward the instructor. Since this is the person who created the outline or schedule, this is also the person best suited to say what is required or expected as the class progresses.

Of course, you can also reach out to your fellow classmates, you know, the ones you just met. If your question is simple, this is an effective way to get it answered while also making those important connections.

5. Map out a plan.

Finally, at the end of your first day of class, take the time to map out a plan for the remainder of the course. Create a calendar or timeline so you know when you should be working on which pieces of homework or projects, noting important deadlines so you don’t miss one by mistake.

Be sure to give yourself enough breathing room in case something unexpected happens along the way, like getting sick or having a family emergency. This way you’ll still be able to meet your obligations, resulting in a more successful class.

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