Freshmen: by now, you’ve been at Brown for at least three whole days, and you probably feel like you already own the place. You’ve figured out how to navigate your way through the Ratty, made lifelong friends at various orientation events, and maybe even learned how to throw a ping pong ball into a red solo cup. Now there’s just one little thing left to do to become a real college freshman: actually go to class. On Wednesday at 9 a.m. (don’t ask why school starts on a Wednesday, or why 9 a.m. classes exist at all), fall semester classes begin.
Every other time you’ve attended a first day of school, you’ve most likely gotten your predetermined schedule and gone to the classes listed without thinking twice. But Brown likes making us think, so the first day of classes here is unlike any other. You can go to ten different classes based on whatever strikes your fancy, or grab the syllabus in a couple classes for your concentration and then dip out, or anything in between.
Whichever shopping strategy you go for, the first day of classes can be one of the most overwhelming days at Brown. Last year the day was a blur, not just because I shopped a class every hour, but also thanks to the Providence rain gods’ sick sense of humor. Even if they decide to give us a break this year, the first day is bound to be crazy. Here are a few tips to get through the mayhem:
- Plan out the classes you want to go to in advance. If you’ve spent all summer on Banner finding the coolest-sounding classes, great; if not, this is what your advisor and Meiklejohn are for. It’s tough to browse the course scheduler on your phone while looking up concentration requirements and checking out The Critical Review at the same time, so try to do all that before you’re rushing between classes. You don’t want to miss the first meeting of a class you know you have to take–you might miss something important or even jeopardize your spot.
- Remember where your classes are and how to get there. But if you get mixed up, it’s okay to be that adorably clueless freshman who has to ask for directions from Salomon to Sayles. For upperclassmen, don’t make too much fun of lost freshmen, and kindly explain to them where the hell Smith-Buonanno is.
- Don’t be afraid to leave a class early or come late. Sure, it’s awkward to leave while a professor is gushing about his/her syllabus like it’s his/her child, but it’s more important to see all the classes you want to see. If you know a class isn’t worth your time, feel free to show yourself out.
- Take a lunch break. Even though you might want to shop a class every possible hour, a relaxed Ratty lunch with your friends on the first day of school is more important. And it’s less awkward than the alternative: dipping Mama Kim’s dumplings in soy sauce during your first multivariable calculus class is not a good first impression. Trust me.
- Follow your friends to the classes they’re shopping. You might discover a class that you didn’t know you wanted take, or even existed at all: I found two of the classes I ended up taking this way. Even if you already know your schedule, it’s great to get a glimpse of what your friends will be spending their time learning.
- Shop ‘til you drop. The first day of each class is important, and sometimes crucial, to attend. If you’re even mildly interested in a class, go check it out–even if it’s late in the day and you just want to pass out.
- Get a good night’s sleep. It’s been a long day of shopping, and you have to do the first-day-of-class thing all over again tomorrow. But not too much sleep: September 4 marks not only the first day of classes, but also the equally important first Whisko Wednesday of the year.