The first day of class can be a nerve-wracking time, as there might be a lot of different thoughts running through your head. What will the instructor be like, what do they expect of you, what types of assignments are required, and what should you be aiming to get out of the class? The first day of class should not be scary; it should be an exciting time! If you use these guidelines for your first day of class, you might find that the nervousness and anxiety begin to melt away as you set yourself up for success:
- Check the Syllabus
On the first day of class, it is a good idea to become familiar with your syllabus, sometimes referred to as the Course Overview. The Syllabus contains “at-a-glance” information that can help you to become more familiar with the topics that will be covered in the weeks ahead. Be sure to check out the “course objectives” near the top of the Syllabus, and be sure to take note of your instructor’s office hours and contact information on this page. If you scroll down a bit further in the Syllabus, you’ll find an overview of each unit that will show you overall unit outcomes, reading assignments/materials, and even the assignment type for each unit (intellipath, Discussion Board, Individual Project, Group Project, or other). If you continue to scroll even further, you’ll find a point breakdown for every assignment, to give you a good idea of how much weight is given to each assignment. Make note of any assignments that might earn considerably more points than the rest, as this can help you better plan for those units!
- Check for Expectations
Now that you are familiar with the Syllabus/Course Overview, it is a good idea to review any and all announcements your instructor has posted. Your instructors should usually post an announcement at the start of each new session to detail their specific course expectations. Reviewing and understanding the course expectations early on (as every instructor’s course expectations may differ), can help you prepare for a successful session. At this time, if there is any information within the expectations that you are unsure of, make sure to connect with your instructor (using the contact information from the Syllabus).
- Check for Chats/Recordings
If your class includes live chats, be sure to check the live chat schedule to determine if you can attend. If you are not able to attend at the scheduled chat time, no need to worry! Chat sessions are recorded, so those who were unable to attend, are still able to benefit from the information via recording. Live chats are the time that your instructor has set aside to discuss not only the topics that relate to the current unit, but the assignment details and requirements, as well. Attending a live chat is the perfect time to ask any questions you may have about an assignment, and if you cannot attend live, just be sure to email/call your instructor (using that same contact information you found in the Syllabus). Live chats are essentially the online version of a regular class-time, but instead of sitting in a physical room during a lecture, you are able to sit in the comfort of your own home. You would not want to miss a lecture at a ground campus, so always be sure to attend live, or view the recorded chats, so as to not miss out!
- Get Started!
Now that you are familiar with the overall objectives of the course, course expectations, and class times, you can then get started with your first unit of work! If you are new to your first course, start on the home page of the classroom, and be sure you are on the tab for Unit 1. From here, you can follow each of the steps provided, as this will ensure you are completing all reading assignments, and reviewing all applicable learning materials, before you begin composing your first assignment (sections underlined in blue font within the steps are links to take you to even more information/resources). It may be beneficial to review the assignment specifics/details prior to going through your learning materials, as this can help you understand what you are looking for while you are doing your reading/review. For later courses, especially, be sure you are completing all of the steps, as noted, for each Unit, and you are reaching out to your instructor if you need guidance/assistance.
If you use these few guidelines on your first days of class, you should be off to a great start!
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