1. Walk through your class schedule so you know where the rooms are
UTD’s campus is confusing. Especially with the construction, navigating all the buildings on campus and all the rooms within those buildings can be difficult. Walk through your schedule so you know the quickest routes to your classes and approximately how much time you need to give yourself to get there. Believe me, you’ll be grateful when you accidentally wake up late or get caught up talking with a classmate after class.
2. Explore campus
Related to knowing where your classes are, take the time to explore campus a little bit. Figure out where the library, Student Union and SSB are in case you every have to make a trip there. Find a couple study spots that you’ll actually utilize and where you can get coffee or food if needed.
3. Organize and decorate your room
No one wants to add the stress of not knowing where anything is in their dorm room to the stress of beginning college or a new semester. Take time out before classes start to organize and decorate your room how you want it because it will truly be your home away from home.
4. Set a schedule
Figure out when you’re going to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and decide when you want to work out. Setting a schedule will help your visualize and utilize the extra hours of the day that you’re not spending in class. College students are in class, I would say, about half as much as they are in high school. One of the most important keys to success in college is to effectively utilize that extra time.
5. Check out the activity center/group X classes
Students enrolled at UTD have the entire activity center for their use (you pay for it in your student fees). Check out what they have to offer in their equipment and other activities (we also have a rock climbing wall and lap pool). Staying fit is the surest way to stave off the freshman 15.
6. Email professors if you’re interested in doing research
One of the best things I did as a freshman that I’m still thankful for was emailing professors who I was interested in doing research with. I admit that some of them told me no, but getting involved in research as a freshman really helped me get involved and learn a lot.
7. Get a DART pass and understand the bus schedules
UTD students get free DART passes and we have use of several DART and UTD buses to get around campus and the community. Learn the routes, explore them — they’re great ways to avoid having to drive or a good alternative to driving.
8. Buy textbooks and school supplies
Some people might disagree with me here since professors are sometimes known to change their minds about textbooks last minutes or don’t actually utilize their textbooks, but I definitely suggest having your textbooks before classes begin. Some professors will have reading assignments for you for the first day of class, and it’s always good to start off strong to avoid getting swept up and falling behind.
9. Follow up with clubs you’re interested in joining
After orientations and signing up for half a million mailing lists, your inboxes are probably filled with welcome emails from various clubs and organizations on campus. If any of them interest you, follow up with them and let them know that you’re interested. Trust me we notice things like that. Passion is important plus it allows you to find out the time commitment that might be required of you. For students interested in going Greek, it can also be helpful for understanding what will be required of you during the new member process.
10. Attend Welcome Week
This isn’t exactly before the first day of class since it encompasses about the first two weeks of school, but attend Welcome Week. It’s a great way to meet other students and learn about different groups and departments on campus. Plus there is a ton of free food which is a college student’s best friend.