My name is Sam Broking and I am a senior majoring in Math and History. I am a member of the softball team and a Peer Advisor in the Advisement Services Center. I love the zoo and my favorite animals are emus!
There are many emotions that arise within the first month of classes. Excitement is most likely our prime emotion because we get to catch up with friends, decorate our rooms, and we get back our full independence. These things could also give us fear, since each semester brings new experiences with taking new classes and trying to make new friends. There is also some excitement about classes, especially the first week due to the minimal homework assigned. Although, once we get a couple weeks into our schoolwork, our emotions become what I like to describe as “meh”. “Meh” is that feeling when you are no longer excited about classes, but you aren’t totally washing school away – because we need to keep up those GPA’s. However, it is extremely important to start the semester strong and find any and all resources that could help you succeed so you do well during your “meh” phase.
Each semester is a fresh start. We take new classes and have different professors, but most importantly, we all start with a 4.0 GPA for the semester. Realistically, those 4.0’s may start to diminish quickly since college is extremely demanding and challenging, however, starting strong and finding the appropriate resources will allow you to succeed! Below are some tips for starting the semester strong and helping with finding resources:
- Get a planner and/or calendar!
This will help you stay organized when your professor quickly assigns homework at the end of class, or when an important test or paper is coming up. Additionally, writing down appointments with professors or study sessions is important too. I also suggest getting a calendar for your room so you can mark down important and large assignments to see when they are due – so there are no surprises.
- Read through the whole syllabus
Look through all the assignments and mark down in your planner and/or calendar test dates and paper due dates. Check out your professor’s office hours and where they are located on campus. Make sure to check out the “overview,” description of the course, and the assignments within the syllabus to prepare yourself for the semester.
- Take notes
Professors will teach – give important information – within the first couple weeks of classes and it is important to actually take notes. This will establish a routine for you and taking notes late in the semester will be easier, instead of just doodling in the margins of your notebooks. I like to take notes on a laptop, and to everyone else that does – make sure you are only taking notes when using your laptop. Do not use it as a blocker to text or to go online and search things, use it for notes only. For myself, I usually turn my Wi-Fi off so I do not get temped to go online.
- Do your homework
If you start off the semester by doing your homework, it will allow you to get into a routine and when the semester is winding down, you will still do your homework, since you are already used to doing it.
- Put your phones away
Yes, it may be difficult to put your phone completely away for 55 to 80 minutes, or even worse the 3-hour lecture, however it will help you tremendously. You will be able to take notes and follow through the slides or the lectures without wondering what you missed. When you look through your phone, you could be missing the most important part of your professor’s lecture. Also, I think it is 100% completely disrespectful to have your phone out while a professor is talking, or anyone else in your class. How do you feel when you’re in the middle of a conversation with friends and then they pull their phones out and start texting – completely ignoring you? It’s the same situation. Lastly, you may think that you are being subtle when texting, but professor’s know, trust me they do. So please, keep your phones away.
- Go to the library
Going to the library allows you to get out of your room – the place with many distractions – and will allow you to focus. Even going for a couple hours a week is beneficial because it is a time dedicated to your studies. Going early on in the semester will establish a routine for yourself – I hope you are noticing my repetitiveness of “routines” – and you can find an area that is best for you. Also, the library is an EXCELLENT place for resources. Utilize librarians when you can because they are there to help you. They can help find you resources for a paper, help with citations and so much more!
- Meet with your professor
Establishing a relationship early on in the semester with your professor is very important. When you take those large lecture classes – 300 people in one class – do you really expect the professor to individually know you? If you go to their office hours EARLY in the semester, your professor will be able to put a face to a name, which can go very far. Also, professors are there to help you if you are struggling with a topic or to go over tests with you – you just need to initiate it. If you have class during their office hours, email them and I am sure that you will find a time that works for both of you.
- Find resources
There any so many academic resources throughout campus that are here to help you succeed. First, there is Advising PLUS, which can set you up with tutors, study groups, review sessions and more! CARSS is a program designed for students in science majors – biology, chemistry, physics, etc. – that need some help in those classes. Project EXCEL is there for first generation students and students with disabilities that want assistance with study skills, peer tutoring, writing skills and more. There are many different campus resources that are there for you, so go do some research and find them!
- Get involved
Lastly, get involved on campus! UAlbany has HUNDREDS of campus organizations and clubs and at least one is bound to interest you. This is an easy way to meet people with similar interests as you and allows you to meet people who have different backgrounds and upbringings. Being involved also betters your time management skills because it gives you a schedule and makes you do your schoolwork at a certain time. Being involved will make your college experience so much fun!
After reading through this list, I hope you realize that you can start the semester strong by creating routines for yourself. It only takes about a month of doing something to establish a routine. Good luck to everyone this semester; you are all going to do great!!