First Week Checklist

Now that classes are in full swing, you might be breathing a sigh of relief that you’ve at least gone to class. And while it’s true that the first week isn’t academically challenging, there are a few things you need to do to get ready to manage your new classes.

If this is your first visit, please take a moment to read my disclaimer.

Of course you know you need to go to class, buy your books and pay your tuition. This post isn’t about that. This is more a list of resources and relationships to develop to support your success.

1. Talk to one person in each of your classes.

You don’t have to be best friends; you actually want this to be more of a colleague/professional type of relationship. If you can, meet a few people. Try to find at least one person with whom you share the same academic goals. Exchange phone numbers or email addresses because flat tires never happen at a good time – usually on the last class day before an exam.

2. Introduce yourself to each of your professors.

Don’t let the first time your professor sees you is during finals when you’re at your wits’ end with crazy hair and mascara running down your face while wearing a sweatshirt with food stains that you haven’t changed in a week. If you don’t feel comfortable introducing yourself immediately after class when your classmates are still milling about, check in with your instructor during his office hours. If the course subject is something you struggle with, try checking in every so often for feedback or some additional help. If there’s a graduate assistant or teaching assistant for the course, try to meet with that person as well, as s/he may be more accessible than your professor.

3. Set up your planner/calendar.

Just do it now. If you think you’re busy your first week, let me tell you this: you’ll never have more free time during the semester than you do your first week. So break out those colored pens and map out your exams, projects and assignments. Coming up in the next few posts I’ll show you a strategy for using Google calendar to help with planning for projects and mapping out studying for exams.

4. Set up tutoring.

I’ve worked with students who have told me that they are poor writers or math isn’t their favorite subject; I have also worked with students who are in very challenging majors. My advice to them is to get help before you need it. Go to your tutoring center and go ahead and set up recurring tutoring sessions. Once a week, twice a week, once every two weeks – whatever you need. Setting up tutoring also allows the center to gauge how many tutors are needed for a subject so that they can make sure you get the tutoring and help you need.

5. Check in to any online learning accounts.

Many courses now have an online learning component. Instructors may post their syllabi or lecture slides in Blackboard or other learning management system. A lot of schools use MyMathLab for math homework or quizzes. Go ahead and “check in” to anything like this and get familiar with the layout. Doing this now will keep you from spinning your wheels at 2am while you’re working on a project or studying for an exam. If you need to, make a few notes on what and where to click that you can use for the first few times you log in.

6. If you haven’t already, get to know your library.

Many libraries have resources to help you get to know your library. These resources may be online tutorials or videos, but many libraries offer themed workshop designed to help you align your research endeavors with the right articles, books or other media. Librarians are much more than people who file books away; all of the librarians I have ever met are so excited to share research tips and are just waiting to be asked!

I hope you guys found this helpful! Do you have any rituals you do during the first week that help set up your semester? Share them with us in the comments below.

(the check mark graphic is courtesy of the Noun Project and was created by Nono MartĂ­nez Alonso)

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