Currently my Instagram feed is being blown up by pictures of all of my undergrad friends moving in, going through recruitment, and getting ready to start to the fun of Fall semester in the Swamp (Go Gators!). However, while moving in and the “easiness” of Syllabus Week is great, don’t forget that the beginning of the semester is the perfect time to make your mark on how great you’re going to do that semester. With that being said, here are some of the best ways I’ve found to start of the semester on the right note!
- Learn the Syllabus. I know, we live in a digital age and there is no reason to kill trees to print a syllabus when we could look at it online. However, I personally think there is something just so amazing about being able to hold the syllabus in your hands. So, print it out. Read it. Go through and highlight the important parts. Do you have a test worth 25% of your grade? Highligh it. Make sure you know what is going to make or break you. Does your teacher allow extra credit (this only happened once in all of undergrad, but it was written in the syllabus and I found it!) The syllabus is one of the most IMPORTANT things for you to read all semester.
- Make a Calender. I LOVE this part. I love to color code each class and then make the Calander with those classes. Every year, I buy a hanging calender that does a monthly view. I hang it right in front of my desk, so every time I sit down to do work, I see it. Go through that syllabus you just learned and make every important date for that one class on the Calender. Do this for all of your classes. At the end, you’re going to be able to visual so much better what weeks are going to be “hard” weeks compared to others. Now, go through and mark all the things that are fun that you want to do. Being able to look at those compared to your school schedule will really help out for the semester. *my key down below*
- Gather your supplies. I love to write notes. I find it really helpful that after I typed my notes in class on my iPad, I go back and write the objectives and my answers to them. I then go back later and try to condense everything I learned in the lecture on one blank piece of printing paper. So for me, it’s really important I have spiral notebooks, printer paper, my favorite pens, and highlighters. You’ll learn what works best for you, but make sure you have it all at the beginning of the semester. You don’t want to be in a great study session when you realize you have no more flashcards left and have to go to the store
- Talk to your elders. So, not necessarily the people older than you, but the people who have taken this class before. Learn if the textbook is really necessary. Learn if the professor likes people who sit in the front row. Learn what the tests tend to examine: class notes, what the professor says, or the textbook. Those who came before you are a wealth of knowledge. BUT don’t fall into the trap of only talking to one person and letting yourself become scared or overconfident on what they say.
- Buy your textbooks. I like textbooks. I find them incredibly helpful. Like my pathology book makes me so grateful I bought it. Often times, reading the textbook helps clarify what my teachers are trying (and sometimes failing) to explain
- Make a contact sheet. Your professors are there to help you (shocking I know). They have office hours for a reason. At the beginning of the semester, it’s great to make a sheet of every professor’s email and office hours. That way, instead of scrambling to figure out what the times are later, you’ll have an easy to go to cheat sheet.
- Figure out the help that is available. Are there TAs to help lead optional discussions? Is there a tutoring area on campus that helps for this class? Is there tutoring you can pay for that “all” students use (Study Edge I miss you)? Figure it out and figure out how the times fit with your schedule. You won’t have to scramble later if you’re trying to fix your grade.
- And of course, GO TO CLASS.
My highlighting key:
- Each class gets a different highlighter color (purple is my favorite, so the class I’m most excited about gets to be purple)
- Exams are in RED.
- Normal assignments are in BLACK
- Extra Credit or optional work is in BLUE
- All of my “fun” stuff gets highlighted in yet another color that I haven’t used.
- Hard weeks have highlighted yellow brackets around them.
- Obviously, you’re going to make your own key that works for you, but this is just some helpful information.
Hopefully this helps (I feel like I end every blog post like this…)
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PS guess who leaves to go to San Fran tomorrow