How to Make the Most of Your First Week of College

No matter what year of college you are entering, the first week of school can be a bit stressful. Between getting settled into a new routine and catching up with friends you haven’t seen all summer it’s a lot to handle. Today I’m hoping to give you some tips that will make it seem like you have all you ish together, even if technically you don’t.

Introduce yourself to all of your professors-even if it means going to their office hours

If you take anything away from this point, let it be this point. Hands down the most important thing to do during your first week of classes is introduce yourself to all of your professors and even TA’s. If I have the time between classes I always go up to my professor after class and introduce myself, say where I am from, what my major is, what year I am, and conclude with a ‘it was nice to meet you!’. If I don’t have the time to go up to a professor after class I make the effort to go to their office hours that week to quickly introduce myself just as I would after class. In two years of college I’ve only had one instance in which I was unable to introduce myself after class and during their office hours because of a conflict with a class, so I sent the professor an e-mail. I explained that I had to run to a different class after theirs and that I had classes during their office hours. After doing so, this professor recognized me in class (always use your Linked-In headshot as your school e-mail photo!) and told me how impressed he was that I made the effort to reach out to him.

Order your textbooks

Your first week of school you should have a feel for if your professor actually will have you using the book that they put on the syllabus. Once you know which books you need, order them from somewhere like Chegg or even a local textbook resell store. If you ordered your textbooks through the school book store, make sure to return any books you don’t need the first week of school or else you my risk not getting your money back.

Pull together your planner

The first week of school I always sit down with my syllabi and write all reading, homework due dates, and test dates into my planner. I personally always write due dates into the weekly and monthly pages of my planner because I always refer to both when planning my weeks.

Organize your school supplies

I might be the only one who gets excited about new highlighters and pens, but you have to admit having highlighters that actually highlight is pretty nice. The first week of school I sit down and label my notebooks and folders with what classes I will be using them for, switch out my pens and pencils, and put my syllabi and any handouts I have into my folders.

Develop your routines

With a new semester comes new routines. While I understand that in college you don’t have a set schedule every day like in high school, at least know what you plan to do during your morning routine. For me, my mornings consist of waking up to my alarm, turning on the coffee maker, washing my face, making my coffee, doing my make-up, doing my hair, brushing my teeth, and then getting dressed. If I have the time on Tuesdays and Thursdays I hit the gym at my apartment complex before class and on Monday and Wednesday I go to work-out classes at my universities gym. I do this exact thing for my night routine and even for a daily blog maintenance routine.

Go to the free classes at the gym

If your gym is anything like mine the workout classes are free the first week of classes. This is the perfect time to try out new classes and figure out what class times work best with your schedule. Free week at my university’s gym is how I figured out that I like to go and work out right after my classes are done so that I can have a mental break and cross more than going to class off my to-do list when I’m on campus.

Write out a schedule of tutoring and office hours in your planner

Hands down this is the best thing that I picked up on during my sophomore year of college. Surprisingly enough I figured it out when I was creeping on a girl in the student center and told her that her planner was cute and spotted what she was writing. She told me that she was making a schedule of when her professors and TA’s where available for office hours and when the tutoring center offered help for her classes. She went on to tell me that you should even write down the times that overlap when you have class because sometimes if class is cancelled you can swing by for extra help in another class. Aside from the monthly few sections of my planner, this page became one of the most referred to pages in my planner.

Look into new organizations

Since it’s the first week of school there are all kinds of involvement parties where you can visit the student center and get fliers for organizations all over campus. It’s the perfect way to find organizations both in your major and outside of your major.

Walk your classes

As “freshman” as this sounds, walk your classes. Especially if you are on a bigger campus you want to know where you are going for your classes because the 10 minute recess between classes can be a bit tight. Even if you know where the buildings are, walk to them and find the room where your class is. This upcoming semester all of my classes are in the same building, but I haven’t been in this building very much before. I’ve taken the time already to walk the building and find where my classes are and I’m definitely glad I did! One of the lecture rooms took me 10 minutes to find because it was completely hidden.

Reevaluate or set new goals

With a fresh semester at your hands, you have the opportunity to set new goals for yourself. It’s a new year of sorts. Think about grades you want to get in classes, how you hope to be involved in your organizations, how many blog posts you hope to publish per week, and how much time you will set aside for family and friends. I personally have a goals notebook (I’m a nerd, I know) that I sit down with every semester/summer/new year and layout my goals for many different areas of my life and even reevaluate previous goals. You can spend 15 minutes or 2 hours, but no matter how long you spend I promise you that time is worth it.

Introduce yourself to your RA’s

If you are still in the dorms, take the time to introduce yourself to your RA’s. No matter what year you are, your RA’s can come to your rescue a lot more than you might think. Even if it’s just a brief hello, reach out to them and at least know their names!

What do you do to make your first week of classes go smoothly? Are there any tips that I missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • I never thought about introducing to my professors by going to their office hours! I remembered once emailing a professor with some questions I had before class begins, and he was very happy to provide me with the information that I wanted to know. This allowed me to do better preparation prior to taking the course!

    p.s. I have also written a similar article on things we should do during and after syllabus week: http://studentstoolbox.com/syllabus-week/ ! 🙂

    – Sabrina | StudentsToolbox.com