Students getting set to start liberal arts programs at Shimer have plenty to be excited about. There’s our unique “campus within a campus,” Shimer’s Great Books philosophy, our love of dynamic classroom discussions, and of course the stunning city of Chicago.
With so much to look forward to, we’d like to see you get the very most out of your new academic year. And that means getting off on the right foot. It’s about more than setting your alarm for the right time each morning and making it to class before your professor gets there. There are actually some concrete methods you can implement, right from day one, that promise to dramatically improve your school year start - and your success throughout the months to come.
Map Out Your To-Do’s
This one is crucial because it’s about getting organized, staying on top of readings, mapping out time for your assignments and tests - and setting a little aside for the fun stuff. You can use an app or just go with a dry-erase calendar that you pin to your wall. Sketch out due-dates once you’ve consulted your course outlines so you know what you’ll need to work around. Then, consider developing an on-going weekly schedule to keep on track with readings. Chances are, if you’ve enrolled in a liberal arts college, you love to read and explore new concepts - but the semester moves quickly, and without careful planning, even the most dedicated student can fall behind.
Now that you know what’s on deck for readings and assignments, schedule in some time to join a club (or three). Shimer’s alliance with the Illinois Institute of Technology affords students opportunities to get involved with a range of activities and organizations. Recent favourites include Tech News editing, Hillel, Feminists United, GLAM (Gays, Lesbians, Allies, and More), Rock Climbing, and Cycling. IIT’s Women Center is also completely accessible to Shimerians looking for additional academic and personal support services. Getting out there and meeting your student community helps newcomers and returning Shimerians find inspiration and support.
Get A Jump On Readings
We already mentioned the importance of scheduling time to read - but many students fall into the trap of believing that the first few weeks of school are more about orientation than getting down the work. And yes, there is an adjustment period, but it can quickly to turn to anxiety when the reading list begins to pile up. Exploring primary texts is central to Shimer’s philosophy. We urge students to get a jump on readings at the very start of the year, so they can avoid midterm burnout and truly enjoy the discovery process.
Meet Your Professors
One of the many advantages of attending an alternative liberal arts college like Shimer, is its small class sizes and accessible instructors. There are no cavernous lecture halls here for students to get lost in! Nonetheless, we suggest taking the time to meet your professors in person, outside of the classroom. One approach is to start the first reading or begin strategizing an upcoming assignment. Take your thoughts and informed questions to your professor’s office hours - or book an appointment. A short discussion about key concepts and instructor expectations will help to bring your own goals into focus. And, meeting your professor one-on-one can really boost student confidence, making you a better participant in class discussions.
What are your top tips for starting the school year off right?