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Beginning-of-term advice

Dear Members of the Class of 2018,

I hope you are settling in to your new home and enjoying (?) this spell of hot weather.

I saw that the Registrar sent all students an email with beginning-of-the-term reminders, so I thought I would do the same, except that I'm offering beginning-of-the-term advice.

1. First, read all the emails that come from the Registrar's Office as well as other Vassar offices. Email is an official channel of communication at Vassar, so make sure to check your Vassar account regularly. Faculty will also use email to contact you with updates about course readings, assignments, etc.

2. The add period can seem chaotic, with students dropping and adding classes at a furious pace. Ask Banner isn't a very good guide to whether or not a class is open because once classes start, faculty control the enrollments in their classes. Classes with huge waiting lists are unlikely to have openings, but others that are listed on Ask Banner as closed may have become open. It's always worthwhile to show up for a class that you really want to take, or to contact the instructor via email to inquire about enrollments.

3. Don't be afraid to rearrange your schedule if you are dissatisfied with it. Dropping and adding can seem daunting but it's not, and your pre-major advisor can help you through the process.

4. Once you've gotten your schedule nailed down, get out your planner and map out your semester so that you know when you have assignments due and exams scheduled. Exams and papers are not like birthday presents--you don't want to be surprised!

5. Find a quiet place to study and set aside a big block of time every day to to go there and work. I recommend the library because it's both beautiful and air conditioned. When you are studying, turn your phone off and put it in your backpack. Your focus will improve enormously without the constant interruptions of texts, emails and Facebook updates.

6. Stay on top of your academic work. The pace of college classes is much faster than high school classes, and if you fall behind now in your reading or assignments, it can be very hard to dig yourself out of that hole.

7. Remember that your pre-major advisors are there to offer guidance and support. So am I. The The Dean of Freshmen Office is open during normal Vassar business hours, 8:30-5:00PM, M-F. Call x5258 and speak with either my assistant, Pamela Hall, or one of the student receptionists in the Dean of Studies Office, to schedule an appointment.

My best,
Susan Zlotnick
Dean of Freshmen