Most students don’t take the beginning of the semester seriously, but you should

Syllabus week – the first week of classes that’s known for its slow pace and easy curriculum. You’re just getting back into the swing of school and you’re not too worried – I mean, how much could go wrong in the first week back?

A lot, actually.

Think about it. You don’t grab your textbook until the first weekend rolls around because the campus bookstore is crazy or you ordered it online. Even though it’s only the first week, your teacher has assigned readings the second and third day of class. You do one of them in time for the next class, and now, you’re permanently playing catch up just because you didn’t grab the book.

Maybe you even miss class because who cares, how much could professors possibly be teaching the first week? You’ve got better things to do, like spruce up your room or finish the Netflix series you started over break and didn’t binge-watch quickly enough. What you didn’t realize is that you don’t know anyone in the class and your professor explained something about your grade or the way the class works that isn’t in your syllabus.

The worst-case scenario would be that you went to class, didn’t really pay attention and just sit in the room the first few weeks. The first test rolls around and suddenly it dawns on you – you hate this material, don’t understand it and now you’re forced to cram this information into your head since you already missed the add-drop date.

Most students don’t take the first few weeks seriously because they feel they have the rest of the semester to do the bulk of their work. After having six weeks off – which, it doesn’t matter how much you love being home, is way too long – it takes time to get back into the routine of school.

It’s almost as if we forget in this time how much work school itself can be. Most students take around 15 credits, or five classes that they have to keep up with. Many, on top of this, have jobs, are part of clubs or juggle some combination of the two. It’s a difficult schedule to balance for anyone and it takes time to master the art of multitasking.

Before you wallow in regret, it’s not too late to fix the mistakes of past you.

It can be hard, but being proactive is really the key to killing the semester.

Shop around the first couple of weeks in your classes – make sure that you’re really interested in them and if not, make sure you definitely have to take them.

Take the first weekend or two to get ahead on your work. Eventually, there will be really fun or exciting things to do on the weekend and those aren’t going to be the ones you want to spend with your books.

Make friends now. If you don’t already know people in your class, get to know someone. This person probably shares some similar interests since they are taking the same class as you are. It’s always awkward the first few weeks, but what’s more awkward is when the professor decides you need to partner up and you’re looking down at your shoes. And if there’s something you’re confused about and the professor has explained it to you countless times, it may become clearer if you hear it from a peer.

This is probably advice you’ve heard a million times you don’t feel you need. But take a moment and reevaluate.

Why did you fail that class last semester? Is it because you truly didn’t understand the material or because you slacked off on the easy, early-semester assignments?

Maybe you’re someone who works best under pressure or you’re an awesome test-taker and never have to worry about those grades.

But most people aren’t.

Improve your chances to succeed and don’t slack now – save that for a week in the middle of the semester when you get lucky. Don’t leave yourself a lot of work at the end – instead, give yourself a well-deserved break by doing the work now.

Tori Roseman is the senior features editor and can be reached at