Please note that these are only suggestions, and your instructor may have more specific instructions.
Plan! Sketch out your semester
Are there weekly assignments in your course? Put them on your calendar! Try sketching out one “week” of your semester, using information from each course syllabus. It can be super helpful to schedule a recurring and regular time to work on these assignments to meet these deadlines. It might be a good time to start or update a digital calendar platform (or paper calendar) and add recurring items, such as class times, deadlines, and when you plan to do coursework. Did your instructor(s) let you know what their office hours are? Add these to your calendar too, you never know when you may need to hop into one!
In addition to drawing out a weekly and daily coursework schedule, trace out a larger arc for the semester. When are major higher-stakes assignments (like an essay, a test, a presentation, or a project) due for each course? Put them on your calendar! When in the semester will you be busier with school? Put that on your calendar! Do multiple deadlines fall at the same time? Put that on your calendar, so you can be prepared when it happens!
This may also be a good moment to notice if any major life events are conflicting with due dates, and have a conversation with your instructor about that well in advance. Working backwards from these key dates to manage your time can help you prepare for them. At this point you may also want to think about how many courses and other extra-curricular activities you’ve signed up for. If it feels overwhelming, talk with your advisor or instructor. Putting aside something (for the time being) can help you focus on what is really necessary and set you up for a more successful semester.
Learn! What’s on your syllabus?
Take the time to carefully read through the syllabus, even if it seems long. It often contains key information you need, such as due dates and course policies. Faculty often put a lot of effort into writing their syllabus each year, so use it as a starting point to understand what will be happening in your course.
What are the major topics, themes, or skills that your instructor wants you to understand or develop through this course? It is likely that your instructor will keep returning to these themes, test for them, or look for you to bring them up in class. As you read the course material, think about how what you’re reading connects to these learning goals. Individual assignments in many courses often explicitly relate back to some or all of these learning goals, so knowing what they are from the start can help you orient yourself in a class and know why you’re being asked to do what you’re assigned, or where you are in the arc of the semester’s curriculum.
Are you clear about where and how to submit this work? This is good to clarify in the first week of class. You may find that your instructor is grateful for hearing your questions and responding to them, as they can follow up with the class to offer early clarification or revision, putting everyone on the same page. Keep in mind that many professors have different ways of communicating their goals. It is always a good idea to listen attentively to your instructor’s introduction about the class on the first day to understand what they want to accomplish in the course.
Courses require different software and hardware, and a key aspect of starting off well is to have a good sense of how you’re going to access the meetings and assignments for your course. Scope out the platforms (Blackboard, Blogs@Baruch, VOCAT, etc.) where your weekly schedule may take you. Where will you access course materials, submit assignments, and interact with other students in your classes? On what platforms are your professors posting tasks and assignments?
It may be helpful to keep track of all the platforms and tech your course requires by organizing them into a single space or dashboard—for example, by making the most of the Bookmarks and/or Bookmarks Bar folders of your preferred browser, or by having a first-stop Google Doc that houses your to-do list and course links. However you choose to do it, plan out a workflow that will make jumping back into or between your courses easy for you.
Engage! Reflect upon how you may connect with your classmates.
Learning can be an isolating experience at times. Getting to know your classmates can help to build a sense of classroom community, to navigate moments of confusion, and generate conversation and ideas. It’s also a great networking opportunity for future jobs and opportunities. How will your course be communicating during the semester? What opportunities do you have to reach out and form peer groups, or to connect on the ongoing projects and deadlines of a course? Your instructor may have set up a space for class group chat. If it doesn’t already exist, many students benefit from setting up peer groups outside of official class time to discuss one or more classes, study material for exams or assignments, or to workshop essay drafts.
College is an exciting time to develop community and find mutual support amongst your peers, as well as explore your passions. Clubs and organizations at Baruch appeal to a broad set of educational and extracurricular topics. It’s always a good time to think about how you could get involved with peers who share your interests, which could in turn give way to internship and job opportunities, ideas for classes that will enrich your academic career, and a sense of community and friendship. Perhaps there are groups that might appeal to you beyond your major, such as hobbies or activities you want to explore or ways of engaging with New York City at large. And if you don’t find the club or organization you’re looking for, there’s always the option of starting a new group yourself!
More Tools and Services. . .
You get access to the following digital calendar options through CUNY:
Calendars on Outlook and Microsoft Teams are available for use through the Office 365 for Education suite of platforms, accessible to all Baruch students.
Working with peers makes the learning experience more intellectually and socially immersive, and is a common expectation of Baruch courses. We recommend this excellent resource made by two Baruch Communications professors, called “Teaming,” which offers in-depth perspectives on fostering effective, positive, and inclusive teamwork.
Looking for class chat-based communications options?
-Microsoft Teams offers a chat option through Office 365 for Education.
-Other discussion apps include Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, Slack, and Discord.
↓↓ Use the buttons below to view tips and resources for different parts of the semester. ↓↓