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Aug 17 2016
by Meghan Field

The Do's and Don'ts Of Syllabus Week

By Meghan Field - Aug 17 2016
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Here we go, freshmen. It is your very first syllabus week, AKA the first week of classes, in a college setting and you probably have had this question running through your mind for a very, very long time: "What should I do during syllabus week?" Okay, so most of the time, students either take this week too seriously or not seriously enough. It is imperative that you find a happy medium so you are not falling behind or stressing yourself out too much.

So say goodbye to summer and a huge hello to the start of a new chapter in life.

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DO: Go to class.

It's a shame, but some students just don't think that you'll learn anything during syllabus week and just refuse to show up to class thinking that they can either get the information the following week or get it from a friend. No one will tell you to go to class, so you need to get in the swing of motivating yourself right off the bat. It is often a preconceived notion that you won't be doing anything of significance during syllabus week, but you actually learn a lot of meaningful information about your books and materials and future assignments. Even at a large university, 99 percent of the time professors and teaching assistants take role one way or another and can even notice if you haven't been in class. You wouldn't want to make a horrible first impression on the first day now, would you?

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DON'T: Stay up all night.

As time goes on, you will realize sleep is a very important necessity in order to do well in your classes. If you stay up on your phone or stay out partying too late the first week, then sooner or later that will become an unhealthy habit which can result in your falling asleep in class and possibly even failing or getting unsatisfactory grades. Create a schedule for sleeping and try to stick with it as often as you can. Not getting enough sleep will just make you want to curl back up and sleep away your days.

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DO: Be social.

Making friends outside of your dorm and clubs is essential, as you might not have any classes with them. Having someone you can be close to in your classes is helpful because then you'll have someone to study with, do homework with and just have a good time with is always a good idea.

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DON'T: Get blackout drunk right after you move in.

While college might seem all fun and games at first and you want to try to prove your independence, this is certainly not how you want to start your college career. You could be labelled as an undesirable person because you are not focused on your studies and others may think the college scene is just too much for you.

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DO: Become organized.

Organization is key. While being organized is not everyone's strong suit, it is something that is helpful to ensure success right from the start in all of your classes. Make sure you have some sort of planner with you and a notebook or binder as well for class. Once you get your syllabus, be sure to jot down all the important dates in your planner and set reminders on your phone so you're sure never to miss a deadline. Learn to keep your dorm neat and tidy as well, because otherwise you could end up spending a lot of time looking for certain things and your roommate could become annoyed and mad at how messy you are.

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DON'T: Hide away in your dorm.

Campuses are meant to be explored, as well as the surrounding areas. If you stay in your dorm then there is no way you'll become acquainted with the layout of your campus. The more you get out there, the easier it will be to know how to get from point A to point B in an instant. It will become second nature to you. Don't be afraid to check out all that your campus has to offer, as well.

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DO: Check out your college's club fair.

What's a better way to get involved in various things than to go to a club fair? During syllabus week, many colleges have all of the clubs on campus set up a booth with information about what their club is, how to become a member and what is required once you are a member. Definitely try to get involved from the start. It will look way better on a resume if you are part of a club for all four years of college rather than scavenging to join junior or senior year.

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DON'T: Forget why you're here.

Yes, there are always going to be endless things you can do on and off campus to have fun and get involved, but the real reason you're paying all of this money to go to college is to learn, study and earn a degree. Leaving no time for getting your priorities done will not work in your favor.

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DO: Talk to your professor.

Even though it is only the first week of classes and this may seem bizarre, it is actually extremely helpful. Getting to know your professor on more of a personal level will allow for better networking opportunities for you and you then know you'll have someone you can have to write you a letter of recommendation. Don’t be shy! Stop in during your professor's office hours and let him or her know that you are excited to take their class. Definitely ask them any questions you have about the course. One helpful thing to ask would be the best studying strategies. If you know right away what the best way to study is, you won't have to waste time later figuring your method out. You can start off on a strong foot.

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DON'T: Put away your syllabus for good.

Take a second look at all of the new information you have received and let it all sink in. Otherwise, you will most likely be surprised at the amount of work you will have to do and the due dates will sneak up on you faster than you could imagine. This way, you will be able to spread out your workload and work more efficiently on projects, homework assignments and studying.

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DO: Map out where your classes are.

Unfortunately, more students get lost on the first week of classes then would like to admit. It's definitely a rite of passage. If you have your schedule and a map handy, make sure you begin to walk through your schedule before the first day of classes. Then you will have some recollection of where your classes are and have an easier time navigating around campus.

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DON'T: Cut everyone off.

Yes, you may need some time to let this big transition click in your mind and you may feel as though you need some me time, but that is not an excuse to not let others into your daily life. If you have a bad attitude from the start and shut others out, you won't have as many friends and connections because others will have given up on you to begin with.

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I hope you are able to let all of these tips sink in as you get to transition to something completely new and different: college. This will be a huge change that you've never experienced before! Although college can be overwhelming, you'll get through it.

Lead Image Credit: Clint Mickel via Flickr Creative Commons

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Meghan Field - Pennsylvania State University

Meghan is a sophomore at Penn State - University Park. She's from Hershey, PA. She is going to major in Biobehavioral Health and Psychology with a minor in Global Health. She has been dancing her whole life and has always had an interest in writing and anything science related. Instagram is @meghanfield.

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