To those students that are new or returning to University of Minnesota Twin Cities classes offered through College in the Schools, I want to give you a warm welcome. Congratulations! The rigorous classes that you are taking now will help you succeed in the future, whether you continue at the U of M or another college of your choice. You are well on your way to earning a college degree. Please read my previous blog posts for more topics that will help you along your college journey.

These tips will help you get the semester off to a great start!

  1. Follow your teacher’s registration instructions if you want U of M credit. The process isn’t automatic—you can’t earn credit if you don’t register.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the class syllabus! The syllabus is a guideline for the class and contains helpful information, which typically includes your instructor’s office hours, contact information, various classrooms, as well as U of M policies, and may also include a calendar of important dates. Pro tip: This calendar will help you understand how much reading and other homework you should plan to do from week to week. The calendar might list approximate dates of when you can expect to be tested over the material.
  3. Get to know your instructor and be an advocate for yourself! If 
teacher with student
  1. you haven’t already, introduce yourself to the instructor. Ask them questions if you don’t understand something or need additional help with clarifying a concept. Don’t be afraid to speak up in class: there is probably someone else who has a similar question as you. The only bad question is the one that doesn’t get asked.
  2. Are you new to writing papers, or have you struggled with papers in the past? The U of M has a tool for that! The assignment calculator helps by breaking down that paper into bite-sized pieces. The Center for Writing has other resources available to you, so check out their website for more details. These tools can be useful whether you are writing a speech, lab report, or tackling your first research paper. Speaking of research, did you know that you can chat with a librarian 24/7 on the U of M libraries page if you get stuck?
  3. Struggling with class? It’s OK to feel uncomfortable while learning something new. That is exactly how you grow as a learner and a person. It’s important to acknowledge your weaknesses, though, so you can turn them into strengths. You might consider talking to a classmate who seems to understand the lessons. Creating connections and networking is a very important skill to learn in life, and you will be networking more than you know in college, so you might as well get used to the idea now.
  4. Still struggling? If you’ve followed the tips above and are still finding difficulty, I strongly encourage you to talk with your high school counselor about all of your options. They can help you if you are feeling overwhelmed and ultimately need to withdraw from the class. That being said, keep an eye on the withdraw deadline. The full U of M policy (as applicable to CIS students) can be found on pages 8−9. It’s much better to have a W on your transcript than the dreaded F because you waited too long.

Wishing you a successful semester!
Stephanie Davison, College in the Schools

Read more First-Gen Voices blog posts.