Getting Started at St. Cloud State University
Before Classes Begin:
- Buy your books. Once you have set your course schedule, you are ready to buy books. You can find out which books you need on the bookstore’s website, or print out a copy of your course schedule and bring it in to the bookstore. While you are there, pick up a copy of the Link, a planner that includes important information about SCSU. Once you have your books, spend some time exploring them. Look for features that will help you learn such as the glossary, index, appendixes, study guides, on-line resources, etc.
- Attend all of the orientation sessions that you can. Orientation is a great time to get to know the campus, as well as professors and other new students. This is the only time in your life you will ever go to freshman orientation, so make the most of it.
- Spend some time exploring the campus. Grab your roommate or a friend and explore. Look for:
- Develop an organizational system for notes and class materials. One option is to use a three ring binder. Use dividers and loose leaf paper to create separate sections for each of your classes. In each section, include the course syllabus, notes, handouts, completed assignments, and any other important materials. One advantage of using loose leaf paper is that you can reorganize your notes at any time.
- Create a weekly schedule. Print out a copy of your course schedule. Also, copy your schedule into your planner. Include the name of each class, the professor, and the room that it meets in. If you have a Link, there is a blank weekly schedule you can use to fill in times that you have class. You can also start planning how you will use your time. Write in times that you will be in class, and any other fixed commitments that you have such as athletic team practice. Next, consider when you will have time to study. Sticking to a set study schedule can help you avoid procrastination and the stress that comes with it. The suggested rule is to plan to spend two hours studying for every hour spent in class. Schedule blocks of time to study for each of your classes. Click this link for a blank weekly schedule.
First Day Tips:
- Plan to arrive early to class. Sometimes room assignments are changed at the last minute. Give yourself extra time to find your classes.
- Find a seat towards the front.
- Introduce yourself to other students. When you feel comfortable, exchange contact information with a couple of classmates. Call them if you miss class or have a question on an assignment. Or, set up a study group!
- Listen closely, ask questions, and take notes. Typically, professors will hand out the course syllabus on the first day of class. The syllabus will include important information about the course, and often the due dates for assignments and readings. Unlike high school, many professors will not remind you of due dates or assignments if they are written on the syllabus. Take notes. This might be the only time that the professor will cover this information. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Also, be prepared to begin covering course material. Most professors will use all of the class time available, even on the first day.
- Check to make sure you have all of the texts and course materials.
- If it is not on the syllabus, write down the professor’s name, e-mail address, phone number, and office hours and location.
- Ask for help if you need it. Stop a professor or another student if you need directions. Another good resource is the information desk on the ground floor of Atwood Memorial Union.
Once classes have begun:
- Carefully review your syllabi. Be sure that you understand the grading system, attendance policy, and assignments. Write down questions to ask your professor later.
- Try to find something that interests you about each of your courses. Even if it is not your favorite subject, you will enjoy the course much more if you find something interesting about it.
- Create a term calendar. Use a monthly calendar to fill in test dates and assignment due dates from your syllabus. Also include campus events and personal appointments. Check the SCSU Academic Calendar for important dates to include.
- Develop a system for keeping track of readings and assignments. You might create an assignment checklist, or use your Link to fill in the assignments you need to complete. If you have large assignments that are not due until later in the term, plan to get started early, and break them up into smaller chunks. Use the assignment calculator, to help you get started.
- Evaluate your weekly schedule.
Now that classes have begun, evaluate the weekly schedule you created. Add in any student organization meetings, work hours, or study group meetings. Try to stick to your study schedule even if you don’t have an assignment due that week. Spend the extra time reviewing.
- Check for on-line materials. If your professors use D2L, explore their pages. Many professors include helpful links and class reminders.
- Get to know the library. Explore the Miller center, and the library’s website. Ask questions. Sign up for a library orientation session. You can also sign up for classes to help you learn computer programs. Check the schedule at: Technology Training at SCSU
Visit Resources to access handouts on some important study skills that can help you get a great start. Also, view Useful Links or make an appointment with a study strategies tutor by calling 308-4993 or stopping by Centennial Hall 236.