The new year is a time for wishful thinking, putting away the past, and looking forward to the future. It can be fun and heartwarming, but it comes with new challenges and responsibilities. Life here at Naz can sometimes feel like 50% work and 50% play (which leaves 0% for sleep), and the extended college winter break will feel like a long, warm haze. Even when we have down time though, there is still work we can do. That goes for current students and those who are preparing for the experience, It’s never too early to get ahead!
Making sure you’re properly set up for an upcoming semester is not difficult, but if you put it off until the last moment, you’ll almost certainly regret it. No one in their right mind wants to spend their free time getting organized and doing work (unless you’re crazy like me), but the much worse alternative is back peddling at the beginning of the semester to cover the nitty-gritty while your teachers begin to pile on assignments and readings. Here is a list of three things I’d recommend you do before each semester begins. For those of you in the process of selecting a school for next fall, these pointers are universally applicable and will help you feel ready for college once you make your decision and help to facilitate your academic success for each and every future semester at Naz!
1 – Reach out to your future professors, sit in on classes, and attend an open house. I cannot stress enough how important your relationships with your professors will be in the future. Reach out to ones in the discipline you’re looking at and let them know who you are. The professors you interact with in college are different than those in high school, and their recognition will go a long way in your future profession. This is an opportunity to display your tenacity and drive to be a successful student. The reality here at Naz is that your professors want to know you, and the ones in your department will be people you may have a social relationship with for a long time. Be someone they like seeing, be memorable. Reaching out to show interest can go a long way, just like an interview. The Naz directory can be extremely helpful in finding contact information, and the Admissions web page lists upcoming open houses and tours.
2 – It’s helpful to use the course catalog to figure out what classes you want (and need) to take ahead of time. This one can take a little bit or time and effort, but is not necessarily difficult. Nazareth College has a student self-help site that allows you to plan courses for each semester of your four years and make sure that you’ll cover all the classes you need for your majors and minors. A lot of people don’t bother with this process because it can seem a bit frivolous and time consuming to plan out courses you won’t take for another two years, but these are the same people that miss registration windows and forget to register for important courses before they fill up. Many colleges have a system like this, and if you aren’t familiar with the collegiate registration process, it can catch you off guard the first time you use it. Trust me, you do not want to be struggling with this process every semester. Familiarizing yourself with the system ahead of time will be worth it. Although freshman fill out a survey for their first semester courses, you can learn about how undergraduate students register for each semester after that and how student planning works on the Naz website.
3 – Make sure your financial aid is in order. This is by far the most important thing, and it will tie you up the most if you haven’t already figured it out. Have you filled out the FAFSA yet? What other financial benefits are you eligible for? No one likes to spend their time worrying about the money, but if you don’t figure it out now, you’ll have to do it later. This process takes a bit longer the first time you do it, so try not to put it off! Helpful information about how tuition and aid works, as well as how to pay bills and fill out important forms and documents, can be found here and here.
All of these things will only take a little bit of your time before you begin your college life, but they will save you from a headache when your first semester of classes eventually begins, and assist your progression for the semesters that come after.