April 22, 2013
*Originally published 2/25/2013
Today at 12:30pm I registered for classes for what should be the last time in my life! I say, “should be,” because I don’t intend to go to grad school, but you never know what things might change a persons mind, and I’ve enjoyed being a student. Knowing I’ll probably never have to pick out classes again is both relieving and a little bit sad, and generally got me thinking about my college years and the types of things I would recommend to an incoming student.
There are so, so many things to recommend- where the least expensive cafe is, specific teachers and courses, all kinds of stuff. So I decided to make this list academic-specific. The things that people don’t necessarily want to do but afterwards are glad for. I suppose I’ll get to it.
1. Get to know a professor (or 2, or 3…)
Professors are here because they have a crazy amount of knowledge on a subject and want to share it. If you a) have a class you really love; b) have a class you want to love but is really hard for you; or c) think your professor seems interesting; go talk to them in their office hours! I have 3 professors who I really liked in class and gradually got to know by visiting in their office hours, and who I now stop in to chat with or get perspectives from; one of them is also now my boss in an internship (but the way that happened is another story entirely related to one of the other professors).
Not only can professors be helpful to you in class, but most really, really want to see their students succeed and will let you know about things related to your major that will look good on a resume- whether it’s a class that will give you certain skills or an internship they heard about. Also they sometimes have snacks.
2. Attend a Public Lecture
I did this for the first time just a few days ago and can’t stop sharing the information with people. Some day when you realize you have an hour or two of downtime and nobody is answering their phone go to a lecture on any subject, whether it sounds incredibly interesting to you or not. For my job I went to one on intentional communities and it was way more interesting than I expected going in to it, and now I want to attend more public lectures. It’s not boring because although students attend lectures most weekdays, they are always on the same subject- public lectures are usually about 45 minutes to an hour on something you probably don’t know a lot about.
For a list of public events on campus take a look at the public events page from the library. There are also other community calendars with lectures listed around Eugene and Springfield.
3. Use the Tutors/GTF’s
This was/is the hardest for me to do because I hate sitting around waiting for a tutor to be available. But if you have any doubts about a paper, math problem, or whatever, there is probably a tutor on campus who can help you in 30 minutes or less. I’ve been stalling in taking my required math classes because I plain old don’t like math, but this term I’m pretty confident I’ll get a good grade and it’s with many thanks due to the GTF who runs the lab I take. He’s patient with everyone no matter how many times he has to go through a problem, and, like so many professors, wants to see students succeed.
These three suggestions are easy to do but can seem weird or intimidating until you’ve actually done them. Really, though, the worst that can happen is maybe the public speaker has an annoying voice or someone else waiting to see a tutor smells bad. Those are unavoidable situations in life, so give these things a shot before you graduate!