Some words of wisdom from your English Department Advisors This is one section of a set of informational slides designed to give new students an overview of what to expect during the first semester of college. The other sections are: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Introduction The First Six Weeks The Second Six Weeks The Last Weeks and Exams A year by year checklist (Appendix) The whole set is posted as one presentation in the “For Students” section of the English Department Website under the title “Tips for New Students.” 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. Don’t be late. 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. If you are driving into campus, plan on at least 15 minutes to find a (distant) parking space and 15-30 minutes to get from your parking space to your class. 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!) Check the Raider Express route. Maybe you can save time by riding. 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, coworkers, 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, email 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. Attendance Policies 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. 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. Schedule of Assignments 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. 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. Bring paper and writing supplies to class. Try to participate in the class discussion if there is one. If your professor asks you to write or tell about yourself, do so confidently. The goal is not evaluation but getting to know each other. As soon as you can during the first week, go to the bookstore to get texts and supplies. 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. 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?) 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. In a couple of weeks, you’ll know where important things are, you’ll know more people, and you’ll be much more comfortable.