The first day of university is very much like the first day of elementary or secondary school (except without your nice first grade teacher and the bully that always stole your lunch money). Don’t believe me? Here is what you can expect on your first day:
8:50 am. You walk into the lecture hall for your first ever university lecture. The class is ¾ full and people near the door look at you, sizing you up, as you walk in. Miraculously you find an empty seat without tripping over a dozen people. Taking out your new notebook, pens, and a 50 pound textbook (that won’t ever be used in the lecture), you say a tentative “hi” to the people around you.
8:52 am. 8 more minutes to go. You look to the front, where someone – probably the prof – is setting up. People are trickling in through the doors of the lecture hall.
8:53 am. A quarter of the class seems to be asleep. A few people are looking around anxiously, almost furtively, as if they are puzzling out some great mystery. Your neighbour to the left is looking decidedly hang-over and is chugging coffee the way he probably chugged alcohol the night before. The two girls to your right look to be best friends and are chattering incessantly about that hot guy at the party last night. There are a couple of people with computers in the row ahead of you. Some are reading the course syllabus. Most, however, are on Facebook or playing distracting computer games.
8:56 am. The class is filling up and people seem to get just a tad bit louder. Your professor is looking at the clock on the wall, debating the best time is to start.
9:01 am. The prof introduces herself, then hands out the syllabus. It’s 8 pages long and contains her information, a summary of the course, the learning outcomes, and a schedule of the term. She details her expectations and talks about how performance will be graded. Most people listen (or at least pretend to), but a a few people sitting right behind you just won’t shut up. The professor draws your attention to the reading list. You realize you have to read 3 chapters – at least 50 pages with tiny words – each week just to keep up. You start feeling just a tad bit anxious.
9:15 am. The professor spends a few minutes demonstrating how to use the online system for the course. She tells you you are expected to check the website frequently for announcements. The website will also be used to assign additional readings and collect homework. The system seems way more complicated that it needs to be.
9:23 am. The professor asks for questions regarding the course. Someone in the first row puts up their hand and asks about scaling. The prof says something about not bell curving. A big sigh of relief arises from the person who asks the question. You’re not quite sure what is going on. A few more questions were asked, but you were starting to get distracted by the chatting behind you and the Facebook page of the guy who’s on his computer in the row in front of you.
9:32 am. The professor starts the lecture on the first topic. She says it’s mostly review from high school and that you should know it already. You don’t and struggles to follow along.
9:39 am. The professor asks the class some questions. You don’t even understand what she’s asking, but some one sitting near the front of the class rattles off an answer. The professor asks a few more questions. You still don’t know how to answer them. Not all of your classmates are struggling though, a couple of students consistently got the answers right, seemingly without any effort. They must be really smart, you think.
9:46 am. The professor finishes her lecture and reminds the class to pre-read before the next lecture. People positively swarms out the lecture all. You follow slower, feeling dazed.
10 am to 4 pm. You attend a few more classes and they pass pretty much the say way as the first one. Some of your professors were nice, others didn’t seem to care. Some spoke clearly and eloquently while others mumbled or had an accent you had to strain to decipher. Some profs looked at their students while talking, others seemed to have an intimate relationship with their laptop or the blackboard. Your classmates ranged from the very eager to those that fell asleep (and snored).
5 pm. You’re feeling drained and ready to crash. You go home, eat dinner, and starts going over the material from your classes, but you’re too tired and falls asleep early.
7 am the next morning. Your alarm wakes you up. You groggily starts getting ready for class while realizing you didn’t get any work done the night before and must make up for it tonight. *Cue mini panic attack*
Thus concludes your very first day. Welcome to university. Really.
So now that your first day is done, how can you ensure that the rest of the year goes more smoothly? Check out this post!