From Zoom to McCosh Hall: 5 Tips for a Successful In-Person Semester

From Bent Spoon trips to the most delicious Whitman Pot Pies, it feels amazing to say that we are finally back at the best place of all!

Packed lecture halls. Firestone meetups. Murray-Dodge cookie runs. After a long, hard year, it has been absolutely legendary to be back on campus, hug my friends, and say hello to the gates of Nassau once more. However, the transition from Zoom to the room could be daunting, especially for first years and sophomores who have never been on campus before. Robertson Hall is definitely more intimidating than a breakout room with your camera off. But, in-person classes are amazing here, and I would love to offer some tips for success on making the transition. So, without further ado, here is my advice on in-person life at Princeton:

  1. Plan Your Day

     Planning your day may seem like an obvious step to success at Princeton, but many of us, myself included, often forget to. Planning everything out, whether that is through google calendar, or simply through your notes, is essential because there is SO much going on right now. It is also especially important now that we are in-person because you need to save time to walk to different classes. I suggest having everything in one place too, so that it is clear when and where you have to be and you don’t miss out on any of the fun events that Princeton has to offer. I like using Google Calendar to keep everything organized and Calendly to set up meetings. Happy planning!

  1. Choose Your Seat Wisely

     You walk into Robertson and see 150 masks and a massive projector. There are a few seats open in the middle, the back is jammed, and the front is empty. Where do you sit? Choosing your lecture seat is, in my opinion, a strategic choice, but it’s important to emphasize that there is no wrong choice. If you choose to sit in the back, you may feel more comfortable as there is no direct attention on you. However, this could also increase the likelihood that you get distracted. For me and many others, the middle is an ideal choice because you are still visible to the professor, but aren’t as nervous of being in front of everyone. I also enjoy the front. Despite the rumors that you will get cold called here, it is a great place to sit because you will stay focused and have a perfect view of the slides. Lastly, the sides are a great place to sit on days when you may need to leave early, or are running late and don’t want to interrupt the class. Overall, each option has its benefits, and you can’t go wrong, but I would take these factors into consideration when you put your bag down this semester.

  1. Make Use of Resources

     The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, general office hours, AND The Writing Center are currently open for you to attend in-person!!!!! I cannot stress enough how beneficial these resources are to any Princeton student. McGraw offers tutoring, learning consultation, group study halls and more, and they will truly help you understand your assignments. McGraw is especially great in-person because you can use study halls not only to learn more, but also to bond with your fellow classmates. Office hours with professors and TAs are an amazing opportunity to dive deeper into the material too. Finally, The Writing Center will be your best friend on essays, especially during Writing Seminar. McGraw is located on the 3rd floor of Frist Campus Center and the Writing Center is on the 2nd floor of the New South building.

  1. Explore New Libraries

     The libraries have been mostly vacant for over a year now and they need some love! Yes, Firestone and East Pyne are stunning, but there are many other locations that I suggest you take advantage of too. Also, studies have shown that studying in multiple locations can actually improve your ability to retain facts, therefore I really suggest moving around. There are so many great places to study and I suggest that you read this article to explore them.  Libraries are a great way to meet new people and join a community. One location that I literally live at is the Whitman library, which offers a spooky, yet welcoming vibe, and is always really quiet if you need to get something done (please interrupt the silence and say hi to me though if you visit)!

  1. Take it All in

     Finally, we. are. back. Princeton can be scary, especially at the beginning when you don’t really know anyone and are still figuring things out. But, I promise you that you will get through it (email me if you want a new friend!) and that you will succeed at anything you put your mind to. It has been a long and difficult year of breakout rooms, violence, and loss. It makes you realize how much we took for granted and how lucky we really are. So, my final piece of advice is to take it all in: the smell of Chancellor Green, the taste of the Whitman Pot Pie, and the hug of a new friend. It feels great to be back and I hope you can take my advice to make this your best year yet.

– Ryan Champeau, Social Sciences Correspondent