how to be successful on your first day of college classesThey say that all is well that ends well. But we in the fantastic world of college education know that beginnings matter. They matter a lot. Although the first day of classes in college can be a chaotic, sometimes exciting, always stressful experience, it should also be viewed as your chance to set up your habits and expectations for the rest of your term or semester.

To help you get started on the right foot, we’ve got six tips that will help you turn your first day of college classes into a successful semester:

1. Wake up early.

Yes, your vacation time is officially over. Unfortunately, this mere fact alone will drive some students to sleep in until five minutes before class is to begin, perhaps out of mourning. But not you. If class starts at eight, you will wake up at six, take time to choose the perfect outfit, shower, eat a nice breakfast, and review your busy schedule before heading off to class.

Instead of stumbling out the door in a half-awake panic, you will stroll comfortably to your first class, clear-headed and cool.

2. Arrive early.

With all that time to spare, you may be tempted to float into other more action-packed parts of campus: the bookstore maybe, or the food court. But then you will hear your parents’ voice in your head: “If you’re not five minutes early, you’re five minutes late.” (Okay, so my parents never told me that, but I wish they would’ve.) You will veer away those temptations and head straight for your class.

Getting to the room early sets you up for all kinds of benefits, like meeting other students or the instructor, or tracking down those sometimes difficult-to-find rooms.

3. Sit at the front of the room.

This is one of the reasons you want to arrive early. Habits start forming on the first day. Sitting in the front of the room triggers habits, like paying attention and participating in class discussions, that will serve you well throughout the term or semester. Sitting in the back of the room, although it may make you look fashionably aloof and indifferent like you’re a high school sophomore, significantly reduces your odds.

So leave high school behind and join the cool kids in the front row. There’s nothing less fashionable than bombing your class because you were too busy chilling in the back row.

4. Take notes on the syllabus.

College instructors can be very organized individuals–or they can be the exact opposite. You would hope that everything you need to know is printed in the syllabus, but you shouldn’t count on it. After all, you will be held accountable for your ultimate performance in their course, not your professor.

That’s why, on this first day of classes, as the instructor goes through the syllabus, you will fight that impulse to doze off or daydream. You will listen with rapt attention and you will take notes in the margins of your syllabus. You’ll want to refer to these notes throughout the semester or term to keep on track.

5. Scout for potential study group partners.

As you’ve probably read in our post about study groups, finding the right study group members can be instrumental in helping you succeed. You’ll be able to spot the all-stars right away. Like you, they are sitting in the front row, taking notes, and raising their hand. These people are serious about their education and you want them on your team.

If you want to get them in your study group, you need to act quickly. Don’t be shy about approaching and recruiting them before someone else does. They could very well be the boost you need to ace the class.

6. Introduce yourself to the instructor and the TA.

Whether it means arriving early or staying late, you definitely need to make your presence known to your instructor. This benefits you in a number of ways. First, it puts a face with a name. So when you send that emergency email to them, they know you’re a human being and not just another faceless squeaky wheel. Also, they will be more apt to help you out in a tough spot if they’ve met you beforehand. Lastly, it makes you more comfortable in approaching them with questions or concerns.

Are you ready for the first day of classes? Tell us how you’re preparing in the comments below!

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