The First Day of Classes: What to Do and What to Bring

Melanie SmithSo it is your first day at Wharton, you’ve scoped out where your classes are, you know all your professors names by heart, and are a ball of excitement and nerves thinking: “I am a Wharton student, wow!” “these classes are going to be so hard,” “I hope no one thinks I’m stupid.”

Firstly, let me begin by assuring you, you are not alone. Every single Wharton student has these thoughts prior to their first day as an official student of the Wharton School in the glorious building that is Huntsman Hall.

What I, a Wharton Class of 2016 graduate, am going to try to do here is ease some of these nerves.

How, you may ask?

Well, we here at Wharton are all about practical plans and models, and what better way to welcome you to the wonderful world of being an analytical business student than by giving you a model to prepare you for your first day of classes!

So here it goes…

Print your schedule.

Yes, you can take a screenshot on your phone… but what happens when your classroom changes on the second day of class, and instead of just changing it with a pencil on your paper, you have to log back in to PennInTouch and take a new screenshot, or flip through all your exciting NSO photos trying to find it, all while rushing through the halls of Hunstman or down Locust walk to DRL. Just heed my advice, print out your schedule.

Print your syllabi.

One of the amazing benefits of being a Wharton student is the fact that we are the only school on campus that pre-loads printing credits on your Penn Card. Take full advantage of this and go ahead and print out that syllabi so as the professor goes through it on the first day of classes you can underline and highlight as you see fit.

Do the required readings.

Not many classes have required readings before school actually begins, but you’ll find some will. Go ahead and read them because it is always best to come to class prepared. Also, if you can make a smart and informed comment on the first day of class, you’ll impress the professor majorly.

Bring a pen and a notebook to class.

Start off the semester with a high point by being completely prepared. Come to class with a notebook and pen, ready to note whatever is crucial on that first day, whether that be the names of the people you are sitting by, where your professor’s office is, or just when the big assignments are due.

Bring snacks.

There is nothing worse than sitting an hour into a three hour lecture and your stomach starting to growl. It makes for a painful lecture and most likely, you’ll lose focus if you are hungry. Counteract this by bringing a snack. Preferably not one too loud to not draw attention to the fact you are eating (that being said, I love baby carrots and munched (loudly) on them daily in class…) Snacks are also great motivating techniques because you can play those fun little mind games with yourself: you know, the whole “if I listen til this point in the lecture I can get out my pretzels” or “if I am able to speak up and participate in class I get to eat my cookie.”

Bring coffee.

NSO probably has you PRETTY tired. And that my friends is the beauty of coffee. Ideally it helps with that pretty-darn-tired sensation. It is brewed in over 20 places within a 1-mile radius of Penn’s campus. Take advantage of this (this statistic is not at all research based, however as I’m mentally running through everywhere I’ve bought coffee in my four years at Wharton and this number is probably on the lower end of the spectrum). You will probably experience many different realms of pure exhaustion during college, coffee is a beautiful thing, and I recommend always having a cup of it in your 9am and 3pm classes.

Bring your confidence.

Lastly, my advice for prepping for your first day ever as a Wharton Student, is to bring your confidence. You truly are an amazing person; you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t. Recognize this, and enter that first Wharton class with a grin, a boldness, and a joy that has never been matched before.

I wish I had the chance to know each and every one of you, but since I just graduated, I don’t get that pleasure.

Instead, go learn and talk to the current upperclassmen. There are amazing people you’ll meet in your classes and clubs; take a chance to get to know them and find a mentor. Don’t forget to reach out to the Wharton Peer Advising Fellows, they are great people and can help you through any bumps along the way!


Melanie Smith, W’16, concentrated in marketing and management.