The first six weeks

Staying on task
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:
The First Day of Classes
The Second Six Weeks
The Last Weeks and Exams
Year to Year Checklist
The whole set is posted as one presentation under the title
“Tips for New Students” in the “For Students” section of the
English Department Website.
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.
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.
Read and think for yourself.
But don’t overlook instructions,
directions and advice intended to ensure
that you satisfy class or program
Most English classes value and encourage class
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
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
Don’t take disagreement or corrections personally. In
academic dialogue, disagreement is sometimes the
beginning of new learning.
Have you ever thought how much each
class costs?
fees, each
Let’s do
pays close
the math.
to $300 per
credit hour.
for in-state
students a 3
credit hour
class costs
roughly $900.
A typical
semester is
15 weeks
$60 a week
for each
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
Who is paying your tuition?
When you waste your time at school,
you are wasting money also.
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.
E-mail 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.
The responsibility for finding out and
doing what was assigned when you
were absent is yours.
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
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 instructors for their
assignments, but here is a 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
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.
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.)

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