Start the semester off right

It’s a new year – a time to make resolutions about your health, finances, spirituality – and your academic progress. Although many students list the first three things as high priority New Year’s resolutions, they often forget about their collegiate careers. Here are six tips that will help guide students toward a successful spring semester.

No. 6: Show up on the first day of class. USF has a mandatory first-day attendance policy with very few exceptions. Students who skip the first day of class will be dropped from that class. If the classes are not distance learning or telecourses, you can be assured that skipping the first day is a bad idea.

No. 5: Read all syllabi thoroughly. Drop/Add week is the optimal time for dropping classes because you feel the expectations of your instructor are too high or because you just don’t like your instructor. Your syllabus is a type of contract between you and your professor. Unfortunately, the flexible part of the contract is only on your professor’s end. Remaining enrolled in the class beyond 5 p.m. on the Friday of the first week of classes is your tacit signature on the dotted line.

No. 4: Drop/Add week is called drop/add for a reason. Use this time to troll OASIS in search of that elusive opening in the evening section of the psych class you so desperately need. Someone is bound to remember that they hate night classes and would rather wake up at 8 a.m. instead. As mentioned in No. 5, remaining enrolled past 5 p.m. on Friday means you’re pretty much stuck for the rest of the semester unless you eat the cost of the course and withdraw. If you do decide to withdraw, the deadline is March 24.

No. 3: If at all possible, buy all required texts and materials. Recommended reading can sometimes be evaded or dismissed, but required texts are required for a reason. Studies have shown that you will not do as well in the course without the textbook as you would with the textbook. Don’t think you can make arrangements with your friends or roommates either. Unless you are in the same section or have the same instructor, the night before your big test will inevitably be the night your shared book is inaccessible. And who will you have to blame for your ruined GPA and friendship? Only yourself – especially if you could afford to buy the text and didn’t. If you can’t afford to purchase the text or materials, speak with your professor as soon as possible so he or she is aware of your situation and doesn’t come to regard you as a deadbeat. Many times an instructor will do everything within his or her power to help students who find themselves in this situation.

No. 2: If you are planning to graduate this semester, be advised that the deadline to apply for graduation is Feb. 3. The deadline for some colleges is even earlier. Be sure to turn in this paperwork as soon as possible in order to avoid a rude awakening in April or May.

No. 1: Print out several copies of your finalized schedule so you will know where your classes are being held or at least be able to find someone who can point you in the right direction . Obtaining a campus map, either online or at the Phyllis P. Marshall Center information desk, is also a good idea. There is nothing like the sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize you’re running late and have no clue where you’re going.

College is about maturity and responsibility; the decisions you make from semester to semester will follow you for the rest of your life. So, choose wisely.