Class starts on Monday at the community college where I teach. I always feel a little nervous before the first day of class. I remind myself that my students are probably more scared of me than I am of them, since Human Anatomy and Physiology is a notoriously difficult, time consuming course.
Students, though, have a great deal of control over their success. Here is what I wish all my students would do on the first day of class:
1 Come! I admit it. Part of my reason for that plea is to make it easier for me. I give my students a lot of information about how the class will be structured, how to access material posted online, what is expected, links to important Web sites, exams and assignments, and so on. It’s hard to go over it all again with students who show up on Day 2 or Day 3. Many professors simply won’t do it, so if their students miss the first day, those students are already seriously behind.
2 Come prepared! Bring a copy of your syllabus, a notebook, a pencil, your textbooks, and your lecture outline and study guide if your professor provides them.
3 Come with the right attitude! Pay attention, take good notes, ask questions, and promise yourself you will do all you can to succeed. Try to foster a feeling of excitement about all the interesting information you will learn and skills you will master.
4 Come with your cell phone turned off! Believe me, unless it is a very large class, professors notice when students are checking their phones and/or texting while the professor is talking. It’s very distracting and will not endear you to your professor. If you must leave your phone on for a crucial phone call, let your professor know if you can, put it on vibrate, and place it where you can feel it go off.
After class, go over your notes, jot down any questions about the syllabus that weren’t cleared up in class, and make a study plan for yourself. I strongly suggest that you decide how much material you’re going to study each day, so that you know when you’ve studied enough. Your brain can only handle so much information at one time, and a schedule will keep you from having to cram at the last minute. Resolve to do all you can to stay on schedule so that you don’t end up overwhelmed and falling more and more behind.
I hope you have a great semester!
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