Presentation on theme: "From your English Department Advisors. Whether you are coming straight from high school or enrolling after years in the workforce, the first semester."— Presentation transcript:
from your English Department Advisors
Whether you are coming straight from high school or enrolling after years in the workforce, the first semester of college will pose some challenges. The purpose of this presentation is to help you anticipate some challenges, answer some common questions, and help you understand ways in which the pace of college is different from what you experienced in high school.
The whole set is posted as one presentation in the “For Students” section. Individual section presentations are available for download or reading in the “Advising” section. It is divided into four sections besides the introduction and appendix: The First Day of Classes The First Six WeeksThe Second Six Weeks The Last Weeks and Exams This set of slides is designed to give new students an overview of what to expect during the first semester.
High School vs College High School vs College Students are assumed to be minors, answerable to parents. If you miss class, your parents find out and you get in trouble. Classes are all in one or two buildings. Most classes meet five days a week. Assignments are usually given every day or maybe once a week. Teachers will usually go over the reading with you point by point. Parents, teachers and others share responsibility for your education. Students are assumed to be adults, answerable to themselves. If you miss class, your grade may be affected. There are a lot of buildings. It can be confusing at first. Classes meet 3, 2 or only once a week. Most assignments are given in a syllabus at the beginning of the semester. Professors expect you to read and process information on your own. You must take responsibility for your own education.
The most successful college students are those who know how to learn independently. They turn to professors and advisors for help, but they take responsibility for their own learning. If you don’t have a lot of experience studying on your own, the time to start is now. Seek support systems-study groups, the writing center- but don’t rely on others to do your thinking and planning for you.
A full-time student ( enrolled in credit hours or more) should be spending hours on studies. The basic formula is 2 hours of outside-class work (24 to 30 hours if full-time) for each credit hour in addition to the regular class contact time. While you may be able to get by with less (especially in introductory courses in subjects that you are good at) it is better to budget more time than you’ll need than less. Remember also that as the semester progresses, many classes will become more demanding.
College classes meet less often than high school classes because you are expected to do more concentrated independent work. Each semester credit hour represents about three hours of study and/or class attendance each week. Although many times it may seem enough to study one hour or less for a class, you will usually have to make up the time later. Don’t assume that because you understand the basic outline of a subject you have mastered it.
Attend classes regularly even when the instructor doesn’t take attendance. Don’t procrastinate on the reading or other assignments. Don’t wait until the day before the deadline to begin a paper. Don’t leave all your studying for the day before the exam. This isn’t high school.
If you are not coming to college directly after high school, you may be worried that you have forgotten what you learned in high school and need to relearn it. You probably also have at least a part-time job, family responsibilities, and other concerns besides studying. Juggling different responsibilities may make being a student a little harder for you. But the good news is that your greater maturity and sense of responsibility will often make you a better student than you might have been straight from high school.
Returning students in particular sometimes fear that asking questions suggests incompetence or laziness. The opposite is true. In the university, asking questions is part of the learning process. Admitting that you are not sure about something is the first step towards learning.
If you have to work (full-time or part-time) while attending school, you need to be realistic about the possible consequences. If you consistently choose work over school, your school performance will suffer. (In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to make this choice.) Most professors will not excuse work-related absences or tardiness.Budget your time carefully.Be clear about your priorities.Try to balance the different demands on your time.
Being a full-time student is a full-time job. If you have a demanding job, or if family or community obligations take a lot of your time, consider studying part-time. If you can afford not to work (or to work only part-time) during your first year, try to do so, especially if you have other obligations. Many students successfully work and attend school full-time (some of them even raise families while doing so) but it is not easy.
Even if you are living at home when you are in college, you are still assumed to be an independent adult. Your instructors are not legally allowed to talk to your parents about you. Letters of “excuse” from your parents don’t count. Your parents may be what is making it possible for you to go to college and you should always be grateful. But this is your education; not theirs.
Meet with your academic advisor at least once each semester. You will need your advisor’s advice before preregistration. Don’t wait until preregistration to make an appointment with your advisor. Consult your advisor during the semester, especially if you are doing poorly in a class and want to decide whether to drop the class or not.
Some words of wisdom
Check the Raider Express route. Maybe you can save time by riding. Anticipate that the only available parking will be a long walk away from class. Don’t waste time circling, hoping for a “better” spot. (If you want a good spot, come in at 7 AM and don’t move your car during the day!) If you are driving into campus, plan on at least 15 minutes to find a (distant) parking space and minutes to get from your parking space to your class. Do you know where your classes are? Make sure you know the building and how to get to your classroom in advance, or else allow extra time on the first day to look for your class. Don’t be late.
The professor will probably introduce himself/herself and put his/her name on the board. This is the way the professor wants to be addressed. Take note. The professor will hand out a “syllabus.” A syllabus is a description of the course and a schedule of assignments. Some professors may put the assignments (or the whole syllabus) online. Either way, you are responsible for reading and following the whole syllabus. Professors usually take attendance at the beginning of class. If your name is not called, make sure that the professor knows you are there. This is a way to make sure that you are in the right class and that the university has the record for your enrollment.
Silence your cell phone. Do not eat or drink unless professor allows it. (On the first day of classes, assume the professor doesn’t allow it.) Raise your hand to be recognized—unless the professor invites/encourages “call-outs.” If you don’t understand something, ask questions. Listen respectfully to your classmates as well as the professor. Unless invited by a professor to address him/her by first name, the correct form of address is “Professor Last Name” or “Dr. Last Name.” Never make any derogatory comments about other groups even if you think the group isn’t represented in class. Don’t carry out private conversations during class—this includes texting people in or outside the class.
English professors are generally friendly people who want to help you. Professors have a different role in your life than other people you know. Professors are not family, buddies, wait staff, co- workers, retail sales staff or police officers. Professors are not your employers in the sense that they do not pay you, but they have a similar role in your life in that they assign work that you must complete by a specific date. Address your professors with the same respect and consideration that you would show an employer. Professors are usually happy to answer questions both in and out of class.
Each professor will organize his/her syllabus differently, but here are some things to look for: 1. Professor’s office, office hours, and/or phone number 2. Attendance and late work policy 3. Texts you need to buy/have access to 4. Class policies and expectations 5. Dates of major deadlines (exams, papers, etc.) 6. The reading and/or writing assignment for the next class.
Office hours are the times that a professor sets aside for walk-in visits and/or appointments. Most professors are on campus (and even in their offices) at other times, but the office hours are the best time to get hold of them. If a professor’s office hours don’t work for you, ask for an appointment. Most English professors are willing to meet with students outside of office hours.
Each syllabus should have the professor’s attendance policy clearly stated. If you can’t find the attendance policy on the syllabus, ask. Most English instructors will have a hefty penalty for missing more than a set number of classes. Make sure you know the penalty before you start missing classes. In some classes, exceeding the allowed number of absences may cause you to fail the class even if you had a passing grade on all the work. University excused absences (for specific university activities, military service, etc.) are not subject to the attendance policy. However, personal emergencies and crises are not automatically excused. Attendance Policies
In English classes, you are expected to have a current edition of the assigned text when you come to class. Most classes will not review the text for you but will build on what you have read for the purposes of discussion and/or further development. If your professor requires a folder, a blue examination book, a thumb-drive or other special equipment, get these while you still have money.
The reading assignments in English classes are usually meant to be completed before you come to class. Make sure to mark major deadlines on your personal calendar. If a writing workshop or peer review is scheduled for a particular date, absence may hurt more than other absences. (Showing up unprepared will be just as bad.) Mark those days on your personal calendar also. Changes to the schedule of assignments are often necessary. If you miss a class, check with a classmate about possible changes and/or new assignments announced while you were away. Schedule of Assignments
The professor’s rules about the use of computers, cell-phones and other electronic devices are usually (but not always) stated in the syllabus. If they are not, and you wish to use one of these devices, ask permission. Consumption of food is allowed in some classes but strictly forbidden in others. If your syllabus doesn’t say anything about food and drink, ask the instructor. Different instructors will have different late work and make-up policies. The professor should include this information in the syllabus.
Most syllabi will include a section that gives you a weight for each assignment. Look at this section carefully. Not all assignments are worth the same. Most syllabi will include a section that gives you the professor’s grading scale for that class. The university does not have the same grading scale for all classes. At the end of the semester, the professor will average your grades according to the weights and grading scale stated in the syllabus and convert to grades on the 4.00 scale.
No mistake on the first day is so great that your whole college career will be ruined. College is like high school without training wheels. It may take a few days (or weeks) to find your balance, but soon you’ll be as comfortable in college as you were in high school. If you pay attention to instructions, ask questions when unsure, and trust your instincts, you will soon find things a lot less confusing and overwhelming. Remember that all the other freshmen who just came from high school are just as confused and uncertain about things as you are. (They may not act it-but are you acting as confused as you sometimes feel?) In a couple of weeks, you’ll know where important things are, you’ll know more people, and you’ll be much more comfortable.
Staying on task
Read the assignment ahead of time. Most syllabi tell what is due on the day that the class meets, not what you will read/do during or after class. If you don’t have specific instructions on how to prepare, one way is to take notes where you summarize the main ideas as you understand them and identify two or three questions for further study. Bring your book(s) to class every day. If you are not sure which book you will need, bring them all. Bring supplies you may need for in class writing and/or taking notes. Don’t forget any assignments that may be due.
But don’t overlook instructions, directions and advice intended to ensure that you satisfy class or program requirements. In college classes, professors will not always go over everything with you. You are responsible for making connections between the reading, the lecture and the class discussion. You are responsible for reading and understanding the syllabus, assignment instructions and remembering deadlines. Even though the faculty will generally help and guide you, the final responsibility is yours.
Most English classes value and encourage class participation. You may participate by asking questions, answering questions or making comments that are appropriate and relevant to the subject. If you just sit in the back and drowse, you will not be participating. Energetic note taking is not really participating. Always pay more attention to what others are saying than to what you are reading or eating (even if the teacher allows eating). Always be respectful of other people, even when you disagree. Don’t take disagreement or corrections personally. In academic dialogue, disagreement is sometimes the beginning of new learning.
When you waste your time at school, you are wasting money also. Let’s do the math. Including fees, each in-state student pays approximately $300 per credit hour. Therefore, for in-state students a 3 credit hour class costs roughly $900. A typical semester is 15 weeks long. That’s $60 a week for each 3-credit class. Have you ever thought how much each class costs? For a class that meets twice a week, if you miss one class or don’t do the work, you are wasting $30. What else could you be doing with that money?
Do the reading.Do the writing.Come to class.
Contact a classmate for information about what you missed. In particular, make sure you didn’t miss any new assignments. professor with a brief apology. If you needed to be assigned a partner, pick a topic, get a particular form, etc. ask the professor how you can catch up before you come to the next class.
In many English classes, especially writing classes, group work of some sort is part of the classroom environment. It is very important to use group time to do what your instructor assigned you to do. Don’t waste time chatting and then have to make the work up after class on your own. If you are peer-editing or reviewing, be sure to be thorough in your comments. Be supportive, but think about comments that will help the other person, not just flatter or reassure. And don’t be upset by criticism. If we don’t receive criticism, we don’t learn. If group work means a group grade, and one or more of your fellow group members is slacking off, it is your obligation to alert the teacher to the problem before the group work is graded.
Instructors will have specific instructions for their assignments, but here is an overview of the process: Familiarize yourself with your subject. Think about your topic—brainstorm. Outline and/or write a rough draft. Revise your rough draft or flesh out your outline. Leave it alone– preferably a few days- so when you come back, the text is new. But don’t stop thinking about the topic. Revise again as many times as necessary until you are satisfied or the deadline arrives. Proofread. Watch out for spell checker errors. Make sure you followed all instructions. Have the paper ready to submit according to instructions before class begins.
As in high school, some teachers will give small assessments in the form of quizzes. These may be announced or not, according to the teacher’s practice. A test usually focuses on an area of the subject while an examination-especially a midterm or final examination will cover material from a specific period. Tests and exams should be listed on your syllabus or announced in class. If you have been keeping up with the work, attending class, doing the reading and required writing, etc. and you don’t do as well as you expected in early quizzes, tests or writing assignments, TALK TO THE TEACHER.
Midterm exams, essays, projects and other deadlines will generally hit around the same time. Prepare for this by keeping up with your work and planning ahead. When facing “the crunch” don’t take it for granted that because you have been doing well in one subject, you don’t need to study or prepare as hard for that subject. You may be unpleasantly surprised. Do everything you can to avoid turning work in late. However, if you are really unable to complete a task on time, talk to your instructor about turning the work in late. Even though you will lose points for tardiness it will be better than not turning in the assignment at all. Hang in there. Even if you don’t do as well as you want on midterm exams and projects, you will have the second half of the semester to do better.
In addition to your professor, here are some good resources: The University Writing Center (for help with writing, mechanics, etc.) The Learning Resource Center ( for videos and audio books) The Library (for books and materials) The University Counseling Center (for personal crises, time-management help, etc.) Your academic advisor (for academic guidance and also to steer you through the university experience.)
Taking stock. Planning for Deadlines. Preregistration.
Attendance—how many classes have you missed? (How many are you allowed to miss?) Assignments—how many assignments have you turned in late or missed altogether? Are you satisfied that you are coming to class well-prepared? Can you improve your preparation in some way? Have you checked the dates of major exams and deadlines? Taking into account the different weights of specific assignments, do you have some idea what your grade in each class may be? What have you learned? How can you make good use of the rest of the semester?
Drop (but consult your advisor first) Don’t Drop (and keep working hard) You have had trouble with attendance and/or submission of assignments. Your grade is a D or worse and you don’t see a strong likelihood that you will improve it. You don’t enjoy/don’t feel you are getting much from the class. Dropping will not hurt your financial aid status. Attendance has not been a problem and/or you have stopped having attendance problems. Your grade is a C or better. You believe you are learning in the class. You have a chance of improving your grade if you work hard. Dropping will hurt your financial aid status and/or delay your graduation.
Whether the problem is that you think you should drop a class or that you think you want to kill your roommate, your advisor will usually be glad to talk through your concerns. Remember that each advisor usually has 90 or more other advisees (and is also teaching) so don’t be discouraged if you can’t see him or her immediately. Your advisor wants to see you. If you can’t see him/her during office hours, or phone for an appointment.
Preregistration is the period during which students may sign up for courses that they plan to take during the next term. At MTSU, students are assigned registration dates, based on how near they are to graduation and other factors. Meet with your advisor at least two weeks before your scheduled preregistration date. Preregister as soon as you are allowed, so that you can get the best choice of courses. Don’t forget to follow up preregistration with registration (paying bill, confirming courses, etc.) or you will lose the courses you preregistered for.
Don’t expect to “get it right” the first time. If you make a mistake, rejoice in the great learning opportunity. If you concentrate on learning, you will be a winner even if you don’t get the highest grade in the class. Even if you feel you are getting worse grades than you “should,” keep working. Don’t be a slacker, but don’t get obsessed about doing perfect work. Perfection is impossible. If you shoot too high, you doom yourself to failure. Set realistic goals for your success.
And then there are exams
During the last few weeks of the semester, you may be torn between wanting the semester to end right away so you can rest and wanting the semester to last longer so you can finish all your work. During the fall semester, Thanksgiving may feel like the end of the semester, but it isn’t. In the spring, the sunshine may beckon, but you have to keep studying. But then, after exams, you will have a break. Hang in there!
IMPORTANT: Most final assignments will be due around the same date. Plan ahead so that if three or four things are due in the same week, you can do your best work for each of them. Sometimes it helps to set deadlines for yourself, that are earlier than assignment deadlines. Just because you did well in one subject before the midterm, don’t slack off on that subject to concentrate on others. Make sure you get enough sleep and that you eat adequately. You will do better work if your energy levels are at their peak.
Find out if the exam is cumulative or if it covers only the work since the last exam. Put together some method for review. For most English classes, memorization will not be the best way to study. When preparing for an essay exam, asking yourself questions and taking time to write out answers is a great way to review. Study/review a little every day.
Confirm all your exam dates and times at least a month in advance. Put them on your personal planner. Note that final exams last two hours. Note that your exam may not be at the same time as the beginning of your class. Make sure you have whatever you need to bring to the exam. Plan ahead for parking. If you are late to the exam, you don’t get extra time. Get enough rest and food so you can concentrate on the exam.
Guess what? You had a normal first year. You survived finals. You completed at least 12 hours with a C average or better. You are not in danger of losing your scholarship. You missed more classes than you should have or otherwise “blew” a class. You made a lot of mistakes. You are preregistered for next semester. Terrific! Not bad! Wonderful. Next semester you won’t. And learned from them. You’re doing just fine.
1. Did you meet with your advisor both semesters? 2. Have you completed all your prescribed courses and any high school deficiencies? 3. Have you completed English 1010 and 1020? 4. Have you made progress in taking Gen Ed and foreign language courses? 5. Have you stayed on top of all your deadlines? 6. Have you identified specific questions or concerns to discuss with your advisor?
1. Have you reviewed your degree plan with academic advisor? 2. Have you chosen a minor or minors? 3. Are you completing the number of hours and keeping up with the GPA requirement ofyour scholarship and/or the program you wish to enter? 4. If you are a licensure student, have you completed the process to be admitted to thelicensure program? 5. Have you completed English 2020/2030 and English 3000? 6. Have you completed your foreign language requirement?
1. Have you reviewed your degree plan with academic advisor? 2. Have you filed an upper-division form and an intent to graduate? 3. Have you finished the foreign language requirement and all the general education requirements? 4. If you are a licensure student, have you met with your YOED advisor and made necessary arrangements for placement during the residency year? 5. If you are not a licensure student, have you begun to explore career opportunities and ways in which you may want to use your degree? (Have you looked into internships, graduate programs, career fairs, etc.)
1. Have you met with the College Graduation Coordinator before preregistration for your last semester? 2. Have you contacted your advisor at least once this academic year? 3. Did you take the Major Field Test and/or any other required exams? 4. If you are a licensure student, are you on schedule with all the residency-year requirements? 5. Are you up to date with paying your MTSU bills (including parking tickets) and taking care of anything else that may keep you from graduating?