How to Prepare for Your First Week of Classes

It’s finally here – your first week of classes! Maybe you’re starting university for the first time this semester, or maybe you’re returning for another year. Either way, we’ve compiled some tips to help you prepare for class so you can start the year off successfully.

Read the syllabus ahead of time

You know that thing your professor posts on Blackboard or emails to you a week before class with all of your required books, class schedule, assignments, and due dates? That’s your syllabus – and yes, you should be reading it before the first day of class. We know you’re probably saying “But isn’t my professor going to go over it in class?” Some of them will; some of them won’t. Regardless of whether the professor discusses what’s on the syllabus, you can have a sense of what’s ahead for the semester by reading it thoroughly. Make a note of any questions you have about due dates, assignments, required reading, and anything else the professor included on the syllabus so you can ask about them on the first day of class.

Map out where your classes are on campus

Whether you’re a new or returning student, it’s important to know exactly where your classes are on campus. It’s helpful to know just how much time it will take you from your dorm to get to class – or even to and from other classes or activities you have throughout the day. This ensures that you’re not rushing around campus your first week back trying to get to class on time because you are unsure where a class is. If you need help locating where your classes are, consider checking the class roster (if available to you) and buddy up with a classmate to walk to class. Determining where your class buildings and rooms are ahead of time will remove some of the stress during your first week.

Charge your laptop or organize your class supplies

Before classes start, make sure you know exactly how you’re going to take notes and organize all of your materials. Some students choose to do this digitally, with physical notebooks and folders, or both. The benefit of getting your supplies in order means that you can show up to class knowing where to start taking notes and storing your information. Additionally, it means that you’re not devising an organization method a few weeks into the semester, ensuring that you don’t lose any notes from the first days or weeks of classes.

Get a good night’s sleep

It might be tempting to go out or stay up late the night before your first classes because you don’t have any homework yet, but just remember, these first weeks can help set the tone for the whole year. Getting a good night’s sleep before your first week ensures that you can be alert and make a good impression on your professors – and your classmates. You’ll be able to better plan for the weeks ahead, and better process the seemingly overwhelming amount of new information you’ll be taking in.

How to Build a Good Relationship with Your College Roommate

You meet a lot of people when you start at university, but there is one (or sometimes two or three) in particular that can end up having the biggest impact on your life: your roommate. You share your room, your space, and essentially, your life with this person. They inhabit the space beside you for almost an entire year, and are subject to dealing with any aftermath caused by your mood, your classes, your relationships, and your life. Sometimes, you’re lucky to have a roommate with which things just work. More often though, you have to work at your relationship with your roommate in order to have a peaceful living environment. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make living with your roommate a fun experience.

Get to know them

This one should be obvious, but you should take the time to get to know your roommate. Bonding with your roommate is important for a few reasons. First of all, getting to know your roommate helps you establish some things in common and perhaps could even provide the foundation for a friendship.

Secondly, getting to know your roommate helps you understand what matters to them – and this translates into what type of roommate they will be. If your roommate really values getting good grades and being successful in school, you might learn that they plan on spending a lot of time in the library or that they have early classes, which means they want a quiet room and they’ll go to bed early. If your roommate is involved in a lot of clubs and has an active social life, that might mean they will want to have friends over in the room or that they might be up late getting back from their activities. This allows you to understand their motivations and why they might behave the way they do. Finally, getting to know them also just allows you to feel comfortable living with them, especially given that your room should be a space where you can decompress and do what you want, without judgment.

Set ground rules

Once you’ve gotten to know your roommate, you should feel comfortable enough to discuss some guidelines and ground rules for your room. What this means is that you’ll establish some boundaries regarding what is allowed or not allowed in your room.

For example, one area to discuss might be room cleanliness and how you want to share responsibility for keeping the space neat and clean, if that’s something that’s important to you. Maybe you decide to clean the room every week or every other week, but you both should acknowledge and agree to the terms. Another area to discuss might be how many nights per week you could have visitors – or overnight visitors. If you’re uncomfortable having guests sleep over in the room, then that should be established at the beginning of the semester.

Setting these terms now ensures fewer conflicts and prevents future ones – and unpleasant conversations or confrontation – throughout the year as they come up because you can return to your original conversation. It also helps to write your roommate guidelines out, so that you can refer back to them if one of you violates them.

Address problems as they come up

When you or a roommate does break one of the rules you established earlier in the semester, address it immediately. Don’t let problems pile up without addressing them. For example, let’s say your roommate had a guest over without asking permission, violating one of your previously agreed-upon rules. Don’t wait a few days to bring it up to your roommate. At that point, it becomes less relevant and causes you to dwell on the problem, potentially making you more upset. By bringing it up quickly, you allow your roommate the opportunity to explain and apologize, and coming to a resolution.

At the same time, you should also consider whether something is worth bringing up. If your roommate breaks one of your mutually agreed-upon rules, that’s worth bringing up. However, if your roommate does something that annoys you or is unpleasant – or if he or she breaks a rule but you know there were extenuating circumstances – consider whether it’s worth addressing through a confrontation. Remember that they are a person too, and they deserve compassion and understanding just the same. Ultimately, it’s always important to communicate with your roommate, and make sure that you both understand the other’s motivations and reasons.

Make friends with other students

This might seem like a strange thing to add to this list, but expanding your circle of friends beyond your roommate will actually help your relationship with your roommate. Why is that? Well, you already live with your roommate, so they are subject to dealing with the ups and downs of your life as you do, even if you aren’t always sharing it with them. You need time with other friends to give your roommate some space. When you spend too much time with someone, you can be more likely to get into arguments or pick up on annoying habits.

By spending time with other friends, you and your roommate both get some time apart and can recharge before sharing your space again. This doesn’t mean that you and your roommate can’t spend a lot of time together – inside and outside of the room – but it just allows you both to develop fulfilling and meaningful relationships with other people who can add to your ability to be a better friend and roommate to each other.