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What to Expect Your First Week of Classes


Purdue University Archway

Your first week of US college classes is exciting, but things don’t always go as planned.

Here are three common issues that you may encounter during your first week of classes … as well as easy ways to overcome these hurdles.

With an open mind, you’ll get into the swing of things in no time!

1. Intimidating Professors and Course Materials

student reading an AP textbook

During your first week of class, you’ll likely notice that college professors are more intimidating than the teachers you had prior to. In fact, it is not uncommon for your professor to have written the textbook for the course.

If you are intimidated by the professor’s attitude (not to mention the course material), remember that you aren’t alone. In fact, many professors act tougher during the first week of college than they actually are because they want to discourage students from slacking off from the start.

Once the semester gets underway, you will notice students dropping out as they realize the class is not for them. When your professor understands you are here to stay past the first week of class, he or she may soften up and drop the tough act. This is especially the case if you use your professor’s office hours for help, since most professors enjoy helping those who sincerely want to improve.

Plus, you will soon see that much of the syllabus is just an outline for the course. It can change frequently, and your professor may even run out of time to get through it. For this reason, do not expect your first week of class to be indicative of the rest of the semester. Give yourself, and your professor, some time to adjust.

2. Schedule Changes

student checking daily schedule

Just because you have your schedule and know where to go the first week of class, doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself confused at times in college. You might find that your class was cancelled, and your only clue is a completely empty classroom. This could also be a hint that the class simply moved.

If you encounter a schedule error, don’t worry. During the first week of college, professors expect freshmen and even upperclassmen to get confused. If you’re not sure if you’re in the right class, take a quick look at the syllabus since it should state the course name. Feel free to ask your peers or the professor which class it is.

If you cannot find your class, head to your adviser’s office to find out what happened with your schedule. You can also check online to find out if there were any last-minute changes made to your schedule after you printed it out.

It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of checking your email each morning, in case a professor needs to cancel or move a class at the last minute. And during the first week, it’s also a great idea to get to class early just in case there are any scheduling mix-ups. This gives you time to right the issue without being exceptionally late to your first class.

3. Unique Assignments

students working on a class project

Homework, class reading and even exams aren’t what they use to be — you’ll understand this during your first week of college. If you’re used to simple papers, multiple-choice tests, and class projects on a small scale, you may be surprised with the first week of class. Professors are often given a lot of freedom when planning courses.

Instead of studying science in a lab, you may have to follow your adventurous professor on a walk to a mountain near campus to get an up-close look at rock formations. Your music class may consist of playing a modified version of “Name That Tune” as you are tested on your musical knowledge while you listen to selected songs.

Your English teacher might ask you to choose a topic during the first week of class, on which you will write a persuasive essay, an informative paper, and more essay types through the semester. Your foreign language professor may require the class to act out a play in a different language, or get into groups to research countries that speak a particular language.

These types of assignments may seem intimidating when you first spy them on your syllabus, but you’ll soon find that they’ll not only keep you on your toes, but also make you look forward to class even more.

If you’ve already survived your first week of college classes, do you have any advice for freshmen who are worried about starting school?



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