Re-posted by popular demand :)
1. Verify your enrollment status – Seriously! Just because you registered for classes before the break doesn't necessarily mean that you are still in fact enrolled in your selected courses. Where there are humans, there are mistakes. I've known a ton of students who thought they made payment before the deadline, but did not, thus being purged from the course roster. Any number of issues could kink up your course schedule. So, double check your enrollment status now. You’ll have time to salvage some semblance of a semester if you catch it now.
2. Get the text book – Most schools have dedicated instructor websites that contain specific textbook requirements for the courses they teach. Contact the professor directly if you are unable to locate the information you need. FYI: Professors may or may not use the same texts for the same class. For example, just because Prof. Smith uses a certain text for COMM 101 doesn't necessarily mean that Prof. Brown uses the same text for COMM 101. Check out your options for purchasing your textbook…the campus bookstore is likely the most convenient, and likely the most expensive. Check out these additional online purchasing OPTIONS and order early during the week to ensure you receive your book by the first day of class (second class session at the latest). Most of your professors won’t care why you don’t have your book in a timely manner. They'll just expect you to have it. Click HERE to get 5% off your Chegg.com purchase.
3. Know the lay of the land – Be sure you know the specifics in regards to the location of your face-to-face classes BEFORE the first day. Use the school’s website to verify the campus, building and classroom designation for each of your classes. It’s also a good idea to have a plan for parking (which lot is most convenient) and a sensible route for moving from class to class. FYI: There is no such thing as the “TBA” building…that’s right…it doesn't exist. “TBA” stands for “To Be Announced,” which means you will be able to access this information on the first day. Updated room assignments are typically posted in several conspicuous locations around campus. When in doubt, find an administrative office and get help.
4. Get to know your professor – If a specific professor has been designated as your course instructor, seek out more information about said instructor. It’s always good to know a little bit about their background, teaching experience, academic pursuits, etc… You may be able to access their curriculum vita (resume’) on the college website. It probably isn't a bad idea to check out their profile on ratemyprofessor.com, either. Just keep in mind that these ratings are highly subjective. However, some of the information may prove to be helpful. For example, if several ratings indicate one of your professors deducts point for tardies and/or absences (cringe), you better make double sure that you adhere to their attendance policy. Each professor has different expectations. If you’re smart, you do your very best to find out what those expectations are and then deliver nothing less. Dr. Yvonne Estes, who taught my “Becoming a Master Student” course at Austin Community College (100 years ago) said, “you find out what the professor wants, and then you give it to them.” She was right.
5. Make direct contact for special circumstances – Most professors are overwhelmed with meetings and course preparation tasks the week before classes start. They likely will not have the time to respond to 200+ “Hello, my name is…” e-mails and/or phone calls (but, do introduce yourself on the first day of class). However, you should contact them sooner rather than later under certain circumstances. For example, if you have accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act (section 504), it’s always a good idea to send your professors a friendly e-mail which also includes some information about your specific accommodations prior to the first class session. Successful accommodations happen when a partnership is established between the student and the professor. Help your professors know how to help you. You should also contact your professor directly before classes begin for other special circumstances such as a planned business trip during the semester, you have a baby due in three weeks, you are serving active military duty, you are overseas (online students), etc…
Here’s to a great semester! Make it happen! If something is worth having, it's worth working for!
"The world is a book & those who do not travel read only one page.”
- Saint Augustine
Original Text: If you are fortunate enough to have travel opportunities come your way, take every one of them! Even a simple road trip can be a wonderful opportunity to broaden your horizons, and increase your frame of reference by gaining a bit of culture. Most colleges have travel experiences as part of the curriculum for gaining college credit. I traveled to Canada, Belize, France, The Netherlands, Germany and the Grand Canyon during my college years and I treasure these experiences.
Commentary: White walls serve a purpose. You can learn a great deal within the confines of four white walls...and you absolutely should. But, the traditional "brick and mortar" classroom is certainly not the only kind of classroom that you should experience. Just ask any of my former students and they will tell you (hopefully) that:
Frame of Reference = The sum total of your entire life's experience
Perceptually, your frame of reference is everything. It's how you make sense of the world. It's a lot like a sensory database of everything you have ever seen, touched, smelled, heard & tasted...every seemingly insignificant experience you have ever had. From a cognitive perspective, a wide and diverse frame of reference has a ridiculous impact on communication, creativity, problem-solving skills, relationships, etc... Yeah...it's kind of a big deal.
While traditional classroom learning absolutely increases your frame of reference, nothing compares to the sensory symphony of learning new concepts by experiencing them first hand. I highly recommend it! I took a class called "History and Culture of Germany" during my senior year at Concordia. We had several face-to-face class sessions within the confines of four white walls where we spend a good deal of time looking at slides of German architecture, art, historical sites and the like.
The second portion of the class was a German immersion experience. The entire class traveled to Vechta, Germany and for one month we lived like the Germans live. We lived with German families, ate German food, spoke the German language (me...not so much) & attended the German university. Experience proved to be a most incredible teacher. There was no better way to learn about the German culture than by experiencing it for myself.
I'm not at all German and I don't practice and/or embrace any traditional German customs that I know of (although, I do love a good goulash). However, increasing my knowledge base of German culture also increased my world view, and thus increased my overall frame of reference. Having experienced life the way Germans do gave me a greater sense of who I am as I live the "American life" because it gave me something to compare it to. Frame of reference, my friends...go out and get some!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.
PROFESSOR'S PEARLS the reader is now available for purchase at Amazon.
Prof. Paige C. Davis