1. Do a dry run
One thing to do before the first day of class is to figure out where each class actually is. Campuses can be tricky to navigate. Parking can be a pain. Busses are sometimes confusing. The best way to get from one class to another is not always obvious. Heading to campus and doing a dry run is a great way to figure out where your classes are and how to get to them. It can also function as a meditation or positive ritual to get yourself excited about school and in a good head space.
2. Figure out where the coffee shops/cafes are
Classes can often be spread out and require you to kill some time on campus. The ambitious among us will plan ahead and pack good, healthy lunches and scope out the best spots on campus to study and spend breaks. While this is probably best practice, many of us will fall short and need to grab a coffee in a hurry, or want to spend an hour or two getting some work done over lunch at a café. Knowing where to go ahead of time will make all the difference in making the most of awkward breaks in the day. It could also save you if you are getting to campus late and need to eat breakfast and/or grab a coffee.
3. Read the syllabus for each class
In many cases, professors will email out a syllabus for their class ahead of time. Sometimes it is even posted on your school’s website. It is important to read over every syllabus and to ensure that you know what you are getting into. Take note of important things such as how the grading system works and when exams are. This will help you better prepare for the class and figure out where to focus your effort.
4. Look up your professors
Do some digging on your professors. Ask friends who have had them before what their class was like. Look them up on http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/. See what type of research they have done and what books they have published. Google them. See what other classes they teach. This can help you know what you are getting into and also might help you get excited about a class.
5. Email your professors
Many professors spend the week before classes start preparing for the semester. If you have questions about a class, don’t hesitate to reach out. You might want to ask if an older edition to a textbook is okay or if you can use a laptop to take notes. Opening a line of communication early will help build rapport with your professor. It might make all the difference if you are in between an A and a B at the end of the semester.
6. Order your texts books
Do your research when ordering books. They are expensive! Make sure you double check to see if you need every book on the syllabus. Check ebay and rentals on Amazon. Check local facebook groups and textbook exchanges and see if you can find one that someone used last year. Some textbooks might be offered as an “International Edition” and be significantly cheaper. Sometimes an older edition is acceptable. If you are okay with reading a textbook from a screen, consider an e-edition.
7. Get organized
Getting organized before the semester starts is very important. Set up re-occurring events in your calendar for classes. Make sure to add the location when you do this! Carve out study time and have a specific place, outside of your dorm room that you go to do so. Map out when office hours are for your classes and try to attend at least once for each class. Figure out how you are going to be taking notes. Are you going to use pen and paper or do you prefer note taking software on your computer? How are you organizing your files? Do you have your work backed up on google drive or dropbox?
8. Mentally Prepare
College is stressful. According to Amy Novotney, About one-third of U.S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression. More than 30 percent of students who seek services for mental health issues report that they have seriously considered attempting suicide at some point in their lives. Note where the counseling center is and check for organizations on campus like Active Minds and Collegiate Recovery Communities.
Heavy alcohol use is common. According to a 2016 SAMHSA study, 32.4 percent of college students reported Binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row) in the past 2 weeks. 40.8 percent reported Intoxication (having been drunk).
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction consider calling us at Life of Purpose. We are an academically focused addiction treatment center licensed to treat individuals with co-occurring mental health concerns. You can reach us directly by calling 1-888-PURPOSE (1-888-787-7673) or by starting a web chat with us.