Your long anticipated college academics have begun and as first-year students, there are important concepts you need to know:
Believe in yourself. You are at Notre Dame because you are a high-achieving student with a record of success. Because there are so many impressive young people on campus, it can be easy to think you are not as academically strong as others. We want you to know we believe in you, we believe you belong here, and we believe you have the capability of being as successful as every other first-year student at Notre Dame.
Becoming a college student represents a significant change in academic culture and your life as a student will likely be very different at Notre Dame than it was in high school. Now is a good time to consider how ready you are for this change and what you might do to meet the challenge.
In high school, you were most likely in class for six hours a day, five days a week, and you probably studied two to three hours a night, meaning that about two-thirds of your academic time was spent in the classroom under the direct supervision of an instructor. At Notre Dame, you will be in class 15 to 20 hours a week and your professors will expect you to put in at least two to three hours of independent work for every hour you spend in class. That means your academic situation will be reversed, with only one-third of your time spent with an instructor and with significantly less direct supervision of your learning. It is crucial for you to manage your time well. If you are not confident with doing so, please reach out to your first-year advisor.
All professors maintain office hours and are available to assist you, but you must be able to tell them what help you need, making academic self-management crucial to maintaining success. Be proactive — talk with your professors if you are having difficulty understanding concepts in your courses. Meet with your first-year advisor to discuss the numerous resources available on campus to assist you. The Program in Academic Excellence assists you with effective college-level learning strategies, the Learning Resource Center provides tutoring and collaborative learning sessions, the Writing Center is available to assist you with all stages of the writing process, the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures supports language and culture acquisition, the First Year Experience Librarian helps with research support— these and other programs provide assistance tailored to the needs of first-year students.
Along with good self-management, an attitude of curiosity and a willingness to explore are all-important to becoming a highly successful college student. Perhaps in high school you had little choice about the subjects you took. Notre Dame’s schools and colleges offer you a veritable intellectual candy store of subjects to choose from within the framework of your Core requirements. All of these courses, many of them not part of a high school curriculum, build skills and interests that will serve you well no matter what you choose to do once you leave the University. Remember, there is not always a one-to-one correspondence between majors and careers. You should consult your first-year advisor as you consider what your future might be after you complete your first year at Notre Dame.
Fall semester advising appointment
As a first-year student, you have been assigned an academic advisor who will assist you in planning your academic program and provide information about the University’s resources and college life. Life as a Notre Dame student is demanding. A good working partnership with your first-year advisor is a key factor in making a successful transition to our scholarly community. You are encouraged to schedule an appointment and meet with your first-year advisor during the first weeks of the semester. To schedule an advising appointment, go to firstyear.nd.edu/appointment.
Over the next nine months, plan to work closely with your first-year advisor to ensure that you have a coherent educational plan for your four years at the University. Your advisor will also help you define your aspirations and values and learn how to use your skills and abilities to achieve them.