It's hard to believe that the summer is halfway over and we have less than a month left of summer school here at UT. The fall semester starts August 17 for the Vols. Even though I have graduated, I am still taking classes - at least one a semester. I love to learn, classes are free for UT employees and now I can take classes just for the fun of it. Besides, I need continuing fodder for this blog!
There are three types of nontrads out there: rookie, half-way and veteran. Each type of nontrad has different needs, but the same goal - to get their degree. How do each of the different types of nontrads prepare for the new semester?
1. Rookie: It's all new to you, you may be a little scared and intimidated, and you may be very uncertain. Relax. A few tips to help the rookie prepare for the fall semester are:
a. A week before you start classes, get a map of the campus and scope out where your classes are. That way, you will not get lost on the way to class. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your campus - locations of the library, student union, your major department and where to park.
b. Don't wait until the last minute to get your books, supplies, etc. Avoid the rush by visiting your campus bookstore early. Other options for textbooks are - online rentals, book sharing, and off-campus used book bookstores. Collegiate logo notebooks and folders are more expensive than the generic brand. The Wal-Mart brand is just as good.
c. If you know who the teacher/prof is ahead of time, drop them an email and introduce your self - something like, "Dear Dr. Smith, my name is Jane Doe and I am going to be in your Tuesday/Thursday 9am Art History class. I look forward to a great class and a good semester." Yes, that seems kind of corny, but when they call roll, your name will already be familiar.
d. Get your laptop registered with the OIT office. Here at UT, first time network users have to register their computers with campus OIT so they can hook into the campus wide wi-fi network. This is another thing that should not wait until last minute as it usually takes about 15-20 minutes to do. You don't want to waste the first 15 minutes of class getting your laptop registered.
2. Half-way: You've been on campus (or online) for at least a semester, so you are familiar with most of the ins and outs of the academic process. However, there may be a few things you have not thought of - things like-
a. Check with the registrar's office to make sure you are on track with your classes. Are you taking what you will need to graduate? Do you need to petition any courses from your previous school? Don't wait until the last minute, like a month before you are supposed to graduate, to make sure you will graduate!
b. Don't leave your hard subjects for the last semester. Grit your teeth and get through math, foreign language or English now. That way, if you don't do so good in the class, you still have time to make it up.
c. Do it now! Here at UT, we are required to fill out a graduation application a year prior to graduation so the Registrar's office can track us to make sure we are on target to graduate. However, with over 6,000 graduates, sometimes that gets a little sticky. Don't rely on the Registrar's office to get your final paperwork done. Start on it ahead of time if possible.
3. Veteran: Been there, done that, can't wait to graduate. You might either have 'tude coming out your ears, or you're making the mad dash to make sure you have all the classes required to graduate (like I did my last year!).
a. Check your graduation report (or here at UT, it's a DARS - Degree Audit Reporting System) to make sure you have what you need to graduate.
b. Pay your fines/fees. An unpaid parking ticket can and will hold your final grades and, possibly, your diploma. Also, make sure all your library books are returned and your tuition is paid up.
Whatever your status as a nontrad, make this semester count! There's nothing like the smell of academia in the morning! Stay tuned . . .