Starting a New Semester

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classroom4Winter Break will be over soon, and it will be time to start a new semester at your college or university.  A new semester, like the New Year, is often a time for students to start fresh and to make academic resolutions.

Here are some tips for approaching your new classes to ensure those resolutions stick.

Keep an open mind

You tried to choose classes that you would enjoy and that would meet the requirements of your curriculum, but we’ve all had to take a course or two that we’ve dreaded.  Your attitude has a lot to do with the experience you’ll have in the class, so go in with a positive outlook.

Get to know your instructor

Asking questions during class or during office hours is a great way to show your interest in the class and to ensure that you understand the material.  It also gives you a chance to see that professors are people, too – you may just make a very valuable connection.

Be an active learner

Don’t expect to just sit back and absorb the material like a sponge.  Learning doesn’t work that way.  Get involved in your learning experience by participating in the conversation, sitting near the front, and taking active notes.  Also, don’t be afraid to respectfully question your instructor if you don’t understand or you disagree; teachers sometimes make mistakes, too!

Read the syllabus!

Your course syllabus is a contract.  It spells out your professor’s expectations in black and white.  If there’s something you don’t understand, be certain to ask.  Also, don’t get too focused on the first exam or assignment.  It’s important to digest the lessons that come between the first day and the first graded project.

Talk to new people

On the first day of the semester, there are always new people to meet.  Yes, it can be scary sitting in a room full of people you don’t know, but don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with the person sitting near you.  Meeting a future study buddy can definitely be to your advantage.  Don’t be shy!  You may even make a new friend.

You can read more about these topics in this excellent article about the first day of classes at  What advice would you have for new students about preparing for a new semester?  Please share in the comments.


[…] up a conversation with someone in your class who looks interesting. Classes are a great way to get involved with classmates and professors.  Ask people in the residence hall if you can join them for lunch. […]

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