You’ve probably seen a million movies where the lowly freshman gets served by some troll-like professor on their first day of school. The freshman hasn’t read the summer reading and is already behind, according to the professor. In reality this is a pretty unlikely scenario. More likely on the first day of class, you’ll find your professor fumbling around with the AV equipment in the classroom. They almost never know how to use it properly, so that will eat up at least 10 minutes of your time. Then of course comes the ceremonial distribution of the syllabus. This is a ritual that is somewhat annoying as your professor will simply read verbatim, what he or she has written on the piece of paper, as you will inevitably be thinking about the extra hour of sleep that you could have gotten had they just emailed you the syllabus.
Another tradition on the first day of class is figuring out where to sit. You’re going to want to get to class early so that you can really assess the situation. No one wants to be in the the first few rows in any classroom or lecture hall. This is where you sit if you want to be called on to answer questions on a daily basis, or to be that person that the teacher thinks he or she has a relationship with of some sort. Then there are the back row seats, which are ideal for those that think they might doze off during class or might want to duck out early. Then of course there is the power row. Somewhere in the middle of the classroom, this is where all of the middle of the road students will sit. This is the section for those that can answer questions and participate, but don’t have any designs on being the teacher’s pet. Figuring out where you fit in, in this hierarchy is really the goal of your first day of class…oh and figuring out how you’ll duck into class undetected when you inevitably arrive late during the semester.
Beyond that, for most students this first day of class isn’t so much about impressing the teacher, as it is about the teacher impressing them. A large percentage of students decide after their first class whether or not they will want to commit to attend it for an entire semester and whether or not the content is going to be useful to them. For this reason, the first day of class is definitely worth your undivided attention.