Tips to starting off your semester right

| Senior Scene Editor

Congratulations! You’ve officially made it through your first day of classes. Or maybe you slept through them. Either way, it’s the start of a new semester, which means a fresh new beginning to classes. Remember when you said how this semester was going to be so much better than last semester? Well, it could be with a little effort on your part. Start the semester off on a good foot with the following tips.

Shop around

While Washington University doesn’t have an official “shopping period,” we do have the two-week add-drop deadline to take advantage of. Most students may not use this time to explore other classes, because they simply cannot add enough courses to pick from with a 21-credit limit. In truth, though, that limit shouldn’t stop students from considering their options.

The trick to this is that you don’t have to register right away for classes you are only thinking of taking. You should have already registered for the classes you want to take this semester a while ago, but did your winter break fuel your interest in learning about Middle Eastern politics? Have you always wanted to take a course in Renaissance literature? Explore the course listings on WebSTAC and take note of the times and locations of any and every class you are interested in. Go to your registered classes and to these new ones you’ve thought about with an open mind: If you’re unsure about an elective you have already signed up for, consider taking something else. Is the professor a great speaker? Does the smaller class size contrast with your larger lectures? Don’t be afraid to drop a class you were previously set on taking and add a completely different one. College is, after all, about exploring.

Find a way in

So, you’ve been checking WebSTAC daily over winter break to see if you had made it off the waiting list for the class you’re dying to take. Or, you decided to shop around and now have found yourself wanting to get into a class that’s already full. Don’t lose hope! The most important thing is to show up to class on the first day and talk to the professor.

Be sincere and explain the reasons why you have to take that class with that professor at that time. Perhaps the class is offered only every two years and you will have already graduated by the time it is offered again. Maybe you’ve developed a sudden interest in the subject matter and really would benefit from learning more about it. Many University professors are understanding, and may let you in the class or give you other options. It may be an uncomfortable process to go through, but you can get more from being proactive than from just sitting by.

Get yourself prepared

Sure, the first week of school is supposed to be relaxing. There are no exams, but there are seemingly a million friends to catch up with. Make sure to enjoy this time, but also prepare yourself for the start of a new semester.

Take the plastic wrapping off your books; that’s always the first step. Try looking through them to see what’s in store and maybe even to get ahead. Go through the syllabi for different classes and see what weeks will be the most hectic. Get a calendar and mark when major assignments or papers are due and when exams are; this will give you a clear view of how your semester will go in terms of classes.

All in all, invest your time well by choosing courses you’ll like and by keeping tabs on the pressures each class will put on your schedule from the beginning. If you map your route in advance, the academic road ahead should be much smoother sailing.