Advice from professors you won’t find on the syllabus

Video by Kasia Jordan / The Daily Tar Heel

UNC journalism professor Chris Roush reads some of his Rate My reviews. For more UNC professors reading their reviews, check out The Daily Tar Heel's Multimedia page here!

It's a new semester — which means empty folders, fresh notebooks and all new assignments on which to procrastinate.

For some students, it’s their second semester as a first-year; for others, it’s the last semester of their senior year. But whether your spring class schedule is the wallpaper on your phone or you haven’t even thought about getting your books yet, it isn’t too late to start this semester off strong.

“I love the fresh start that comes with the university cycle,” Janet Downie, assistant professor in the Department of Classics, said. “Every new year and semester is an opportunity, so take advantage of that.” 

School of Media and Journalism Professor Chris Roush said he, like many other professors, prepares his class schedule and syllabi for the next semester right after the finals of the previous one.

“Go ahead and review those and see what types of information your professor has posted for the class,” Roush said.

If professors can start preparing right after grading hundreds of exams, the least we can do as students is to show up to class ready to go.

“90 percent of performance is just showing up,” Roush said. 

Roush is not the only professor who wants students to take advantage of their classes. Remember, you are accountable for your grades whether you go to class or not, so you might as well show up and participate — even if you go rocking those sweatpants and fuzzy socks you wore to bed the night before.

Just follow senior advertising major Elly Penning’s example.

The day before spring semester started, Roush walked past Penning studying in Carroll Hall. Roush said he was surprised to see her there, as the doors to the building were locked for students on Tuesday.

Penning said she was preparing for the National Student Advertising Competition. She’s taking a special topics class with other competitors from UNC and said she needs to know 100 pages of case files for it. What’s the takeaway here? You can never be too prepared for class.

“When I walked up to the front door it was locked, so I knew I could swipe myself in on the side door thinking that nobody would be in the building so I could just kind of have some silence,” Penning said. “Then Chris walked by and was like, ‘Why are you already studying?’”

“I told her she was crazy,” Roush said.

Call her crazy, but there’s a reason why Penning is one of about 30 students chosen for the NSAC.

Penning said she has not prepared for her other classes like she has for her special topic class, but she still advises students to be prepared for what you may think are your “easier classes.”

“Walking in knowing everything, being prepared and being sure of what the class is going to ask of you gets your semester off to a great start,” Penning said.

By some miracle, Penning has not begun to suffer from the lack of motivation many seniors have during their last year of college, aka “senioritis.” She is just one student looking forward to the future, as many graduating seniors are in their last semester at UNC.

“These are your last months, maybe, to be in the world of books and ideas," Downie said. "So whatever is exciting and interesting to you in your courses this semester, take full advantage of it because you’ll never have a chance again.”

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