I hate the first day of school. I don’t care what anyone says about catching up with old friends, showing off new haircuts/clothes, or even the whole learning a new subject thing. The first day of school has always been my least favorite day of the school year. Even in elementary school, I would have gladly accepted marching around in my backyard with my fresh bowl-cut (courtesy of my mother) in my light-up Pocahontas high-tops in solitude if it meant I could exist in some sort of non-shifting world where it was eternally summer. As a naturally shy child, the appeal of new situations was never as inviting as the warmth of the summer sun coupled with the careless freedom of doing nothing all day, every day. Unfortunately I was in for a rude awakening when I realized A. I was not a Lost Boy and B. a college career brought not one, but two first days per year.
Now my problem with the first day of school has nothing to do with school. It’s more about my fear of the unknown. Will the professor be mean? Will the class be difficult? Am I really prepared to take a 400 level course? These are all valid questions, but ultimately unimportant on the very first day of school. There’s absolutely no way to know these answers until possibly the last day of school, so shouldn’t that be the day I loathe?
I finally realized I’ve spent too many sleepless nights before “the day that shall not be named,” obsessing over trivial issues that I cannot change. So as someone who only has two first days left in a seventeen year education, I would like to offer a “First Day List.”
1. Check www.ratemyprofessor.com before scheduling classes. It’s easy to tell which ratings are legitimate and which are just posted by students who are mad they didn’t get an A after skipping the entire semester. Don’t take these ratings as scripture though, sometimes people have these things called opinions, and they tend to differ.
2. On that note, don’t be afraid to take a class with the “hard” professor. Sometimes these are the smartest people you will ever meet, and you should give everyone a chance (except that professor that gives pop quizzes at 9am that’s just cruel and unusual).
3. Bring a notebook and pen, nothing else. I promise you in no way, shape or form need a laptop on the first day of class. Usually it’s just a meet and greet followed by a review of the syllabus then an early dismissal. These professor people are smarter than we think. If you’re clicking away on your new Macbook they might just know that you’re adding your hot new lab partner and tweeting about it to @yourmom.
4. Textbooks are tricky. It ALWAYS helps to buy them before the semester starts, but then you run the risk of possibly not needing them. Professors usually understand this, and will typically give you a week or so to get books before assigning any major assignments. My suggestion is to order online because the savings are incredible.
5. Finally, give yourself plenty of time. It sets the tone for your whole day. If you were late waking up, you’ll probably be late to school and you won’t have time for breakfast or your morning coffee. Then you’ll look like everyone else, scrambling to get in line at CC’s while loathing the students sitting around waiting for class while reading the paper.
Hopefully these little nuggets of wisdom will help you actually enjoy (yes I said it) many first days before you get to the end of your college career and realize you would LOVE to re-do even the worst first days (bowl cut and all).