The end of summer is nearing for many. The only indicator is the start date of classes bearing down upon us; Lord knows it’s not the weather. If your first day of class is coming up, take a minute to think through what you’d like your semester, year, or entire college experience to look like and maybe heed the advice of those of us who made enough mistakes to offer you a few useful tips.
1. Don’t write off the first day of class as “pass out the syllabus day.” Many of us assumed it was a pointless day that guaranteed early release and that’s all we focused on. Instead, listen closely, ask questions, and if needed, go directly to the registrar’s after class and drop it while it’s still refundable.
If it’s early in your college career, you can replace that class with another credit – one that’s worth your time, one that you’ll care more about. Those classes are expensive and time consuming; if you don’t jive well with the professor or care enough about the content, find a class that better suits you.
2. Don’t hashtag your hate. Some professors are memorable because they are fantastic educators. Some are memorable because they’re a total snooze. Either way, keep those negative comments off of social media. This wasn’t always an issue for students because you didn’t typically run into your profs on MySpace.
Now, with Facebook and especially Twitter, the last interaction you want to leave with the one who determines your grade is a Twitter reply of: Maybe if you paid attention instead of tweeting during class, it wouldn’t be such a #wasteoftime.
3. Go to class. Just go to class. Even if you don’t really care about geology, chances are the instructor will say things like, “write this down” or “this will be on the test.” Even if you never learn the complete difference between a sedimentary rock or an igneous rock, you’ll still score better on the test if you just go to class, OK?
4. Ask questions. We all attended a class that was boring. Instead of accepting that fate, ask questions. Your professors have chosen to teach this topic for their life’s career; it’s safe to assume they probably like to talk about it. Get the most out of that class. Discussion is always more interesting than lecture and typically it helps you retain more, too.
5. Don’t be afraid to learn a new subject. College offers you a chance to learn something you assumed you didn’t care about. Or learn something you previously thought was too difficult. Walk into every class open to the subject and the instructions. Many people change their major because they were surprised by their interest in a new subject. Life is too short to limit yourself and once you graduate you get so few chances to simply learn new things. Take advantage of this time. So what if you thought you wanted to be a graphic designer? If anthropology keeps your attention better, go after that. A career will require most of your life, make it one you care about after all.