Combatting first-day fears

First day fears::McClatchy Tribune

First day fears::McClatchy Tribune

Dante Frattini

Just as winter break brings cold weather, the spring semester brings a cold reality.

Melodramatic? Perhaps. But the beginning of a new semester does bring on the aspect of the unknown, and that can often be scary.

To help put your mind at ease, let me offer a few pieces of advice. The first week of class can set the tone for the rest of that semester, so take this seriously.

When you walk into that classroom on day one, you are likely to feel a slight panic. If you don’t, you’re probably one of those “confident people” I keep hearing about. If that’s the case, go ahead and flip the page; we don’t take kindly to your type around here.

But for the rest of you, the time between entering the room and sitting down is extremely intense. With just a few seconds to work with we are forced to make what seems like a life and death decision: where to sit.

To cut down on the stress, make sure to go in with a game plan.

If you know you have a friend in the class, coordinate a simultaneous walk-in, that way no one is left with the unholy burden of seat-saving.

If you don’t know anyone in the class, your goal should be to sit next to the hottest girl.

Note: If you are not attracted to women then please mentally replace the word “girl” with “guy.” I wrote this from a guy’s perspective &- a very awkward and nervous guy.

Most importantly, time your entrance. Don’t be one of the first people to sit down; that takes away all of your power. And no, the hottest girl is never going to choose to sit next to you.

Definitely don’t be late, either, unless you want to sit in that one desk that wobbles every time you shift your weight.

Lean against the wall outside the classroom and pretend to text until about half of the class shows up. By that time you should have a pretty good idea about the overall hotness level of the class. Go in and calmly objectify the person of your choice.

If you can nail that &- the sitting down part, the rest of the first day should be a breeze.

Your other worries are likely to be about more academic-related things.

“Will this class be hard?”

“What will the final be like?”

“Oh crap, how do you pronounce “cumulative’? I hope somebody else asks about that.”

The professor is unlikely to say, “This class will be very easy, there’s no need to buy the book, and please show up only when it’s convenient for you.”

Nevertheless, the difficulty of the class is fairly easy to judge if you know what to look for.

Example: If the professor briefly introduces himself, hands out a one-page syllabus and excuses the class, you are in luck.

However, if your professor is like David Corner, professor of philosophy, you might be in for a challenge. Sure, that might make the professor “passionate” and the class “engaging” but come on, who goes to college for that?

“I usually give myself a pretty tight schedule and it helps if I can get started on the course material the first day,” Corner said. “I like to get down to business.”

A good way of judging the professor is by his or her method of breaking the ice with the students.

I die a little inside every time I am forced to stand up, say my name, and state one interesting thing I did over my winter vacation. I also lose a little hope for that professor.

Thankfully not all professors feel the need to start the semester on the wrong foot.

“I kinda think (ice-breaking) is instructors killing time so they don’t have to prepare as thoroughly and give a lecture that day,” said humanities professor Philip Dimare. “You’d be surprised how much of that goes on!”

No, I wouldn’t. Because I know that this semester, just like every one before it, I will find myself standing before a roomful of my peers in all my voice-cracking glory, explaining to them what I wish to get out of that class.

The answer: myself.

Dante Frattini can be reached at [email protected]