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Tips For Surviving The First Week Of School

Tips For Surviving The First Week Of School

You might find the first week of school to be pretty stressful as a wave of different emotions run through you: excitement, anxiety, enthusiasm. You’re coming out of a 3 month break and you’re sleep schedule might be a little out of whack. Some of you might have just gotten back from a fun-filled, tropical vacation. Maybe you spent your summer working or crowd surfing at music festivals. Either way, all those thrills and feelings you experienced disappear once “syllabus week” hits.  You might feel a sense of urgency as all the assignments and unfamiliar vocab from your classes start to race through your mind. Whether you are moving into the dorms or an apartment – unpacking your things and adjusting to a new living arrangement can be another stressful thing to add on top of an overwhelming week. Rest assured, all these thoughts and feelings are not unique  just to you and there are some simple tips and tricks for making the most out of your first week and ensuring a smooth transition into the school year!

Preparing for Class

Transportation It’s in your best interest to get familiar with where your classes are going to be prior to the first day of school. Get to know the bus routes and ride a few of them before the first week of school. Learn the names of the buildings you will be in the most and where they are located. Find a walking route between classes that is the most convenient for you. Time yourself to see how long it takes to get from one place to another. Life is easier when you have these things sorted out. For more tips on navigating the NIU campus, click here. 

Textbooks During the first week of school, your teacher will discuss the required texts needed for the class. While some teachers stress the importance of purchasing the textbook, other teachers are more lenient and leave this as an option to you.  If cost is a factor and you are having trouble deciding whether or not to buy the textbook, keep in mind that there are other alternatives to paying the full price. If you sign up for Chegg you can receive up to 90% off by renting a used textbook.

A lot of classes may ask you to purchase an access code in order to complete the homework assignments. Some common platforms your professors may use include MindTap and Aplia. If this is your case, definitely look into getting a Cengage Unlimited package. This platform offers multiple packages which can include customized study materials, access to your homework assignments and the ebook. In addition to this, Cengage has partnered with Chegg to make renting the physical texts only $7.99 with your subscription. Not only that – Cengage has also partnered with Quizlet to make study materials easier for you to access. These awesome deals can help save you big bucks in future!

Syllabi One thing you should definitely prioritize the first week of school is looking over all the handouts and syllabi you get. Read what your professors expect from you. Reach out to them if you have a question that was not addressed. Write down all your assignments in your planner prior to the second week so that you know what’s due when. You’ll feel more prepared for the upcoming week when you know how the class schedules work out. This can help alleviate the stress and anxiety you might have felt in the beginning.

Making the Most out of Your Living Situation

Living in the Dorms A great way to meet new people is through the dorms. A good chunk of the students living on your floor/cluster are either transfer students or freshman. It’s very easy  to feel intimidated by a big school with tons of new faces. Don’t let this stop you from getting to know your roommates, suitemates and/or floormates. Crack your door open the first couple weeks of school. It lets people around you know you’re there and open to talk. Don’t be afraid to knock on someone else’s door too if you see it open. Talk about class schedules – maybe you’ll find someone to walk with you to your morning class. Compliment them on their bedroom decor – maybe you’ll find inspo. Feeling hungry? Knock on people’s doors and ask if they want to go down to the dining hall and grab a bite to eat. It might feel awkward at first, but odds are that a lot  of people are in the same boat as you plus no one wants to sit in the cafeteria alone.

Living in an Apartment Renting an apartment unit gives you a bit more freedom and privacy than the dormitory. That being said, it might be a little tougher to get to know you neighbors. Introducing yourself is a sure way to eliminate that mystery and start things off on a positive note. Exchanging phone numbers is a great way to keep in touch and look out for one another. Some instances where this would be helpful may include notifying each other of suspicious activity or helping one another out if someone forgets their keys. If there are issues in the future with noise level  or odd smells, communicating these problems with your neighbor first is a great step to resolving the issue!

Events to go to

Welcome Days Want to score some free food and meet new people at the same time? Well, look no further. Come out to NIU’s Welcome Days and participate in some fun and exciting events.  It’s free and open to all NIU students regardless of your year in school. These events take place during the first week of school  in multiple locations around campus. This is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the campus, get to know NIU’s faculty and meet some of your potential classmates.

Involvement Fair Another awesome way to kick off the school year is by joining one of the many clubs NIU has to offer. The involvement fair showcases some of the many organizations that represent NIU. It is highly recommended that you attend if you are looking for more information on a club, want to meet new people with similar interests as you, or simply trying to get involved and build up your resume. If you don’t find a club that fits your interests, you are encouraged to form your own club. (More information about this can be found here.) Some of the clubs we have here at NIU include Campus Missions International,  Prism, NIU Forensics, Archery Club and a various number of  Greek Organizations. For a more comprehensive list of NIU’s student organizations, click here.


  1. Explore the campus prior to the first week. Familiarize yourself with the bus routes. Be able to identify what buildings your classes are in.
  2. Utilize Chegg and Cengage Unlimited before you decide to purchase your textbooks at full price.
  3. Stay on top of the due dates! Compile a list of all the class assignment from your syllabi and record them in your planner.
  4. Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to the neighbors right off the bat.
  5. Attend the Welcome Days to destress and get some free food.
  6. Get involved! Go to the involvement fair to learn more about what NIU has to offer for you!


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