Your First Year

First Year Academics

Get Ready for Academic Success at Washington College!
New Student Orientation and the first day of classes are fast approaching, so here’s some information and suggestions to help you prepare for academic success as a college student.

The workload
Compared to high school, you spend less time in class in college. But that doesn’t mean that the workload is less; instead, you spend much more of time preparing for class and completing course work outside of the classroom. Washington College courses are designed to require two to three hours of work outside of the classroom for every hour in class.

So do the math: If you’re taking four courses and each meets for three hours/week, plan to spend 24 to 36 hours/week on your course work outside of the classroom.

Getting organized
To get all of your work done – done well and on time – you need a good system for keeping track of what you need to do when and good time management skills. Make sure you have all the information about the work for all of your courses in one place, whether that’s a planner or agenda book, a calendar on your computer and/or phone or a wall calendar. Most successful students use more than one, for example, they have a wall calendar in their room with notes about everything they need to do each day and a paper planner/agenda or a digital calendar such as your Outlook calendar, with the same notes.

Whatever format you use, enter not just due dates but also when you will complete your work. For example, if your calendar shows that there’s a calculus exam on Friday, write down when during the week or two before you plan to study for the exam. Or if your calendar shows that your GRW essay is due in two weeks, it should also show when you’re going to do the research, write your first draft and do your revisions.

Managing your time
With a good system for keeping track of what you need to do when you will find that time management is not too difficult. Begin work well ahead of the due date and schedule enough time to get the work done and you’ll find that you can get everything done, and done well.

You’ll also have time to meet with professors outside of class if you have questions or need extra help. If you start an assignment the night before it’s due, you definitely won’t have time to meet with your professor if you have questions or need help!

With a good plan for getting your work done, you’ll experience less stress and have time for everything else you want to do: campus clubs and organizations, activities like athletics, chorus, or writing for a WC publication, attending campus events and hanging out with new friends.

Course policies
Compared to high school teachers, college professors have more discretion on course policies like attendance, deadlines, make-up exams, and grading. Read the syllabus for each course very carefully so you’ll know what your professors expect of you. Ask your professor if you have any questions about course requirements and policies.

Academic support
Familiarize yourself with all the academic support the College offers.  For all of these offices, you can make an appointment online, attend a drop-in session or scheduled seminar or walk in to get help. All kinds of students use these services, from those who are struggling to those who are doing fine but want to improve their performance in a specific course or enhance specific academic skills and talents.

At the Writing Center Director John Boyd and our trained student tutors can help you with all aspects of the writing process, from developing ideas for writing assignments and developing a thesis and building an argument for it to clarifying the organization of an essay and incorporating research sources. The tutors come from all of the College’s academic disciplines, so you can choose a tutor who’s a major or minor in the subject you’re writing about.

At the Quantitative Skills Center Director Kerrin Ehrensbeck and trained student tutors support statistics, calculus and other mathematics courses, computer science courses and all other courses requiring quantitative skills, such as physics, chemistry, and economics. The QSC has drop-in hours and evening review/active learning sessions for specific courses. You can also make an appointment for one-on-one tutoring in any course requiring quantitative skills.

At the Office of Academic Skills, you will find Director Hilary Bateman. OAS offers Academic Success Seminars, study tables for specific courses and one-on-one tutoring in all subject areas except quantitative subjects. Students with documented learning disabilities should work closely with our Disability Access Specialist, Maggie Harris on classroom and campus accommodations.

If you’re taking BIO 111 General Biology, CHE 111 General Chemistry, CHE 201 Organic Chemistry or PSY 111 General Psychology, you will have a course mentor for that course. A course mentor is a student who has done well in that class, been recommended by the department and trained by OAS to help students learn and review the course material. Your course mentor runs a weekly review/active learning session. Attendance at course mentor sessions is voluntary but very highly recommended.

At the Global Education Office, the professional staff and student workers provide support and services for international students, including great programs for students from the U.S. to meet international students, and help all students who want to study abroad.

Miller Library and Academic Technology
The reference librarians and other staff at Miller Library can help you with research including how to access online and in-print sources, evaluate a source of information, and cite sources. The staff in Academic Technology, from the help desk to the Media Production Center and Ideaworks, the college’s maker space, can help you use technology to enrich your academic experience.