No matter how things go, we always seem to look back and wonder what an alternative situation would be like. In the case of our courses, there are several things that we know we could have done to better our classroom experiences. What’s so great about our big and diverse campus is that we get to learn from each other’s advice, reflections and thoughts. I was having some really great conversations with two of my friends over the weekend and they have some advice to share with you!
Meet Victoria Sajtovich specializing in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, with a major in Genome Biology and Gisella Sinaga, specializing in Mathematical Applications in Finance and Economics.
“I wish I had known who to talk to about career advice. Seeking out undergraduate chairs of your respective department(s) is fantastic, but because their focus is on promotion of their department or your retention in their program, it doesn’t always give you the advice you need for what you want to do next.
I also wish I had known to ask professors for help when you’re struggling. Sometimes the general strategies of an academic success center are just that (too general), and you need an expert’s advice for your field. However, there’s a fine line between coming across as insane and coming across as strategic, i.e. that you’ve already thought about what they’re going to say and you’re just going through the motions. I wish I knew how to start a genuine conversation with a professor when you’re curious about the material but not grasping the way that they think.”
“I wish I were more assertive in going to office hours to ask anything I was unsure about. In Math there are also a lot of things they assume you know so if you don’t make the effort to stay back and point out what you missed, you’ll never learn.
I wish I carefully looked over the program requirements for my degree and spoke to my registrar because then I would have been able to plan for my courses for the upcoming year. Going to the registrar and checking your program requirements ahead of time is so important!”
Other than the great advice, Victoria and Gisella remind us of the importance of reflecting on our previous class experiences. When you detect the things you did wrong, it sets you out to change that, and make it right. It’s a lot more useful than trying to implement a vague idea of just doing better as the new academic year begins. That being said, it is important to remember that no matter what your class experience, there is always going to be something you wish you had done a little differently! While reflecting, it’s important to not to be harsh, but rather to learn from things you did, or things you didn’t do, and try and demonstrate what you learned in your next set of courses. Hopefully this makes you think of one thing you could do differently in your course tomorrow, that’s an improvement from a course last year!