Monday, August 23, 2010

Sound Advice for Day One

It's the first day of school for both my college and the public schools, even though I personally get one extra day of summer (I don't teach in the public schools on the first day--too much chaos!--and my first college class isn't until tomorrow). Earlier in the day, I met up with a former student who still has a week before college starts (he's headed northeast, where they start a little later), and he asked me for a few general pieces of advice. A few hours later, I noticed this post from blogger Ross Wardrup that's chock-full of good advice for people starting college. And while he gears his post toward students at UNT (which, ironically, doesn't start classes until Thursday), the information he offers could be used at pretty much any school across the nation. A few of my favorites:
  • Figure out which buildings your classes are in before the first day of class.

  • If you’re going to be more than 15 minutes late to class, just don’t show up.

  • Know the exam dates, and don’t ask me if you can look at my review sheet 5 minutes before the exam begins. I’m studying the sheet that I went through the effort to create.

  • If you ride a bicycle to class, don’t try to be a ninja and run me over from behind without warning.

  • our freshman year is the year in which you set your GPA. If you slack off this year, you’ll have to work extremely hard to try and bring it back up.

  • Always go to review sessions. Even if you “must” work. Get someone to trade shifts with you, etc…

  • Read ahead in your textbook! You’ll understand the lecture ten times better.

  • Befriend your professors.

  • Don’t worry about looking stupid if you need to ask your professor a question. I guarantee you that there is at least one other person with the same question. If it’s really that bad, ask them after class.
Read the whole thing. And let me add one: Show up to class. That sounds basic, but once you skip more than, say, two times, it's really hard to get caught up again. And with the "six-drop rule" here in Texas, dropping the class after the "census date" ls often not an option. I always say that the dumbest way to fail a class* is to stop showing up and not drop, but sometimes, there's little choice. The best way to avoid this is to never get yourself in that situation in the first place.

*One time, when I made that statement in class, a smart-alecky older student (as in a guy in his 50s) asked me, "So what's the smartest way to fail a class?" Wise guy...

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