The first week of school can be very frustrating. You’re juggling setting up your schedule, buying textbooks, finding your classes, taking notes, gathering syllabuses and more. It can be overwhelming to say the least.
Even as someone who is in her third year in school, I still struggle to get my sh*t together. But, there are a lot of tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to make the first week of school much easier and I can’t wait to share them with you!
Before we begin, let me know in the comments what year of college you’re in and what your greatest struggle is (for me, it’s procrastination #guilty). I’d love to hear from you!
Without further ado, let’s get into the 7 things you must do during syllabus week that’ll guarantee a great semester.
7 Things You Need To Do During Syllabus Week
Print Off Your Syllabus and Required Documents
The very first thing that’s a must is to print off all the materials you’ll need for your classes. This includes your syllabus, lab documents, worksheets, readings and more. Put this in your binder under separated tabs. This will keep everything neat and organized.
You’ll want to keep your syllabuses at the front of your binder or folders so it is the first thing you see. This makes it easy to refer to when you need it.
Now you will want to highlight all of the important information in your syllabuses. This includes office hours, office locations, professors contact information, professors grading systems and more. I also put a memo in my phone of the teachers contact info., office hours and office location so I always have it when I need it.
Plan, Plan, Plan
This is the time where you will want to plan everything you can. I know it sounds overwhelming, but don’t stress, I will walk you through it below.
Start with the Syllabus
Take on one class at a time and write in your planner every assignment, test and quiz due date and when you want to start working on them. For smaller assignments, I plan to start working on them a couple days to a week ahead of time depending on difficulty level. For larger projects and tests, I try to plan two weeks ahead of time if I can manage it.
For example. in my Reporting 1 class, I had to do a huge assignment where I had to interview the elephant manager at my town’s local zoo and write an article about her. I started the assignment two weeks ahead of time – gathering information, sources, getting her contact info., setting up a meeting time, etc. – and got the project finished a week ahead of time. You never know when something unexpected happens that will set you back and make you miss a deadline.
Write down any extra important information or deadlines
A lot of colleges use a Learning Management System (LMS) like Canvas which acts like an online classroom. This is where teachers can communicate with students, assign homework, and more in an online environment. I know a lot of teachers like to use an LMS along with in-class instruction.
If you are using an LMS then I would suggest looking at the assignment due dates and comparing them to the syllabus. A lot of times I notice that teachers will put due dates online that aren’t on the syllabus and visa-versa. If you see any assignments or other important information that the syllabus is lacking then write it down in your planner.
Get to know your classmates
During the first week I try to find at least two people in each class to exchange phone numbers with so we can help each other out throughout the term. It’s nice to have a study buddy or homework buddy when you get stuck. I know how hard it can be, especially as an introvert (like me), but you have to give it a chance because you never know if the person sitting next to you is going to end up being your lifelong friend if you don’t try.
Go to office hours
It’s very important to get to know your professors earlier on in the term for a lot of reasons, but here are the three main ones:
For one, when you regularly go to office hours, you show your professors that you care about your learning and their efforts to teach you. The second reason is that when you get to know your professors, they are more willing to be flexible if an unfortunate circumstance arrives and you need to miss a test or your homework is late. The third reason is if you need a professor’s letter of recommendation for a scholarship, they are more likely to write one if you start going to office hours early in the term.
Buy Textbooks For Cheap
I was shocked when I heard my classmates tell me that they paid $200 or more for each textbook. I could think of a million more productive ways I could spend that $200! It was clear that they bought their books through their campus bookstore.
If there is one key piece of advice to take away from this post, it would be this: Don’t buy textbooks from your campus bookstore! You might as well take the money out of your wallet and throw it in the trash.
There are so many resources out there to help you get your textbooks for cheap, or at least, cheaper than campus prices.
I usually start on Amazon. I look to see if there is a used book that’s offered as “new” or “like new.” Usually Amazon’s prices are reasonable, but if they are asking for a lot, then below are some other methods to try:
- Kindle Textbook Rental lets you rent textbooks and you don’t even need to own a Kindle. Their prices range from $29 for 30 days and it goes up from there. You could also rent books from Chegg.com.
- Textbook buy & sell Facebook groups are a good way to go. The prices are usually reasonable because the books being sold are by college students. I have bought textbooks for as little as $3 before.
- Go to your campus library, check out the textbook you need and make photo copies of the pages. This can be a good cost-effective alternative, especially if your teacher has you reading only a couple of chapters out of the book for the entire term.
- Go to your local bookstore and see if they offer the textbook you need. A lot of smaller bookstores will give you a decent price.
Get to know your campus
The first week of school is a good time to get familiar with your campus and where your classes are. Grab a cup of coffee and walk around. Explore a little bit.
Get to know where the print/copy place is on campus in case one day you forget to print something at home. Get to know where you can rent headphones or flash drives if you lose yours. Know where the library and technology lab is.
It’s important you are familiar with where these resources are so you can plan ahead of time when unfortunate circumstances happen, because they will happen.
Pro tip: Print off a campus map and tape it to the front of your binder so you always have it on hand.
Have any more tips you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments section below!