How to Prepare for College Classes

One of the most exciting days at college is the one where you first begin attending class. Yet, many new students show up on their first day of classes not knowing what to expect. If you want to put your best foot forward and start off right, keep in mind that college is very different than high school. Your new professors will expect you to meet your commitments at the adult level and won’t be doing much reminding or nudging.

To make sure you are well prepared for your first day of college classes, we have rounded up some of the best tips we could find and compiled a list. Read on to make sure you have all the knowledge you need to succeed in each new course.

1. Arrive on Time

Now that you are making your own schedule, nobody is forcing you to be on time. However, that doesn’t mean you should stroll into class late. For one thing, purposely arriving late shows disrespect to your instructors and your fellow students. It’s also not likely to make a good first impression.

If you are not a morning person, set several alarms to make sure you wake up on time. Get ready early and grab a coffee or hot cocoa and head to class. Arriving ahead of time will not only allow you to make the most of your day, but you’ll also be sure to get a good seat.

Speaking of good seats, if you find it hard to pay attention, you might want to consider sitting front and center to make sure you retain as much information as possible. If you prefer to observe quietly, getting to class promptly will allow you to seat yourself at a cozy spot in the back.

If you are able, allow yourself as much time as you can between classes so you aren’t rushing. Keep that in mind during course registration.

2. Know Where to Go

Getting to class on time will be a lot easier if you know where you are going. If you are attending a large college, it might be a challenge to find the right building or classroom. One way to remedy this is to take a test run the day before to familiarize yourself with the campus landmarks. Locate each of your classrooms. If you have any doubts about how to get back to them, take some notes or draw a map for yourself. There is nothing more stressful than being late because you got lost.

3. Come Prepared

It’s hard to know what to expect on the first day of class, but if you bring all the stuff you might need, you’ll be ready for anything. It’s unlikely that you will be required to use specific supplies, so you can organize your notes and literature in whatever way works for you.

Be aware that some professors don’t allow electronic note-taking, so don’t plan on relying on your laptop or tablet until you know for sure. Instead, use good old fashioned paper and pencils for notes. Besides, studies have shown that writing lecture notes by hand helps students retain information better than typing them.

Save any handouts you receive in a separate file or folder. Don’t fold them up and stuff them in your purse or pocket. Start things off right by being organized so you know where to find your documents later. You will need to refer to them throughout the year, so handle them like you would any other relevant paperwork.

If you have trouble adjusting to temperature, bring an extra sweatshirt or sweater (if you get cold quickly) or dress so you can remove layers (if you overheat). Being comfortable makes learning easier.

Bring extra pencils, pens, and paper. Someone else will undoubtedly forget theirs, and you will have enough to share. As an added benefit, it’s a great way to make a new friend.

4. Meet Your Professor

If you want your professor to remember who you are, introducing yourself is a good start. While it might be a little difficult if there are a lot of students in the classroom, try to do it on the first day if you can. By walking to the front of the class and talking with the instructor directly, you display confidence and interest that will make a great first impression. It can also help you feel more comfortable asking for help or answering questions in subsequent classes.

If your professor looks way too busy, make a note of his or her visiting hours. Then, plan to pay an in-person visit as soon as possible.

5. Be Attentive

Pay attention and take notes from the get-go. You never know when your professor is going to say something that could be relevant to a future quiz. (Professors can be tricky like that!)

Make sure you know how much class you can miss in case you need to take a sick day as some classes only allow a certain number of days absent. If you do miss a session, you will need to get any notes you missed from another student.

Don’t let your phone be a distraction for you or the rest of the class. If you can’t turn it off, at least put it on silent mode. This will be a rule for most classrooms, anyhow.

6. Read the Whole Syllabus

For each class, you will receive a syllabus. You are going to want to guard it with your life. Since you have nobody to remind you when an assignment is due or a test is scheduled, your syllabus is going to direct you with instructions, due dates, and essential information you need to remember. It is up to you to read it thoroughly and make sure you understand it. If you do not understand it, make sure you ask questions to clear up any confusion.

7. Make Friends

While you don’t have to find your new best friend on the first day of classes, reaching out and making a connection or two will help you to feel more at ease. Most people are friendly and helpful when given a chance, and you might just find a new partner to study with or help you stay on track.

8. Show up With Your First Assignment Completed

From time to time, professors will send out an assignment via email or the syllabus before the first class. Often, the task will be a book you were to read before showing up to your first class. If applicable, make sure this is completed, and don’t forget to bring it on your first day of classes.

Final Thoughts

At the end of your first day, you are likely to have a mixture of feelings. You will probably be tired, so make sure you get some rest. If you feel anxious, recall other “firsts” in your life that you conquered successfully. When everything is new, it can be overwhelming. Try not to judge your entire college experience on a stressful first day. Realize that things will smooth out as you become more familiar with your new surroundings, and before long, everything will be second nature.


How to Prepare for College