Columnist tells SDSU students what to expect during their first semester

Tyson Nafus

BY Tyson Nafus

Welcome to another semester, with the bright, shiny and glowing potential to make your college career half a year closer to done. The first couple of days in class feel fresh and brimming with promise, especially for first-time freshmen chomping at the bit to get their university experience rolling. However, veterans of higher education realize that not everyone who reads the syllabus on the first day will be as eagerly attending the final exam, if they attend it at all. Each class is unique, from different departments of study right down to the structure of the coursework. However, every lower-level course tends to adhere to three distinct stages of classroom population. Similar to human development, these growing pains consist of three major stages.

The first stage starts with the introduction day and lasts approximately two weeks (or until the first real assignment and/or quiz). During this, the classroom population is at a maximum, excluding a handful of lost students in desperate need of a map. Some people are talkative with their neighbors; others are nose-deep in books and tracking their future progress in little notebooks and agendas. It’s a more light-hearted time in class, with half the students still without books due to financial deficit and others just testing the waters of a course, seeing if it matches the goals of their education. All acquaintances in this first stage are treated with equal pause, since stage two is quickly approaching. The drop date is another solid cut-off for some stage one students.

The second stage is the first real test of students in a course, since due dates start to come quickly from all directions and the professor makes clear what’s expected. Each course section begins to identify its long-term voices and familiar faces during this period, when acquaintances can develop into academic partners and beyond. Every classroom has its own collective persona, and it can vary from hard-nosed lecture lemmings to sarcastic but informative debaters. Neither personality is conclusive in determining which students will progress past the typical cut-off for stage two: the midterm. At this point in the semester, the money is spent, but some students duck out by withdrawing from the class before their GPA suffers a heavy letter across three credits. The numbers culled from the herd by this stage are a fraction of the loss from the first, which speaks well of those who last through it.

The final stage is the rest of the semester, and students who make it into this last leg have a very high chance of finishing the course. Those still in the race to finish with a passing grade usually exhibit several key factors in their approach to school: time management, determination, stamina and health (physical and social). It’s really simple to remember and utterly draining to practice, but adhering to these throughout the courses in a semester is a great way to improve your odds of meeting your estimated time of graduation (unless you’re just here to party, in which case, you haven’t read this far). Best of luck conquering all the stages.

Tyson Nafus is currently majoring in Sociology and can be emailed at [email protected]