The Early Bird Gets the Worm (And the Best Classes)
My wife and I were out walking at a local park early one Sunday morning. As we made our way around the track, we watched a man moving chairs, setting up a grill and preparing for what looked like quite a party. On about our fourth lap, he was finally sitting and relaxing with his thermos of coffee and the newspaper.
He didn’t look like he expected anyone anytime soon.
Clearly, we guessed, he was emulating the proverb about the early bird who “catcheth the worm” that first appeared in J. Philipot’s “Remaines” in 1636 and reappeared in J. Ray’s “Colloquial English Proverbs” in 1670.
That better be one tasty worm, though, if you have to arrive four hours early to claim a picnic spot.
There is no denying that being first in line does offer someone the shadiest spot on a sunny day or the freshest donuts in the morning.
As we sprint toward the end of one semester and prepare for next fall, current students and incoming students might want to take Philipot’s advice to heart as they think about the classes they want to take next fall.
One of the glorious things about college life, I think, is that we allow students to pick courses and times that best fit their schedules. Not a morning person? You can avoid those pesky 8 a.m. classes we made you take in high school. Do you find yourself gazing out the window every afternoon around noon with your stomach growling like a bear after winter’s hibernation? You can pack the morning and free yourself to hit the buffet or library (of course!) in the afternoons.
But if you want your choice of class times, you do have to rise early at least once. Hopefully, all the experienced students knew enough before reading this blog that the late bird gets the worst classes.
For those students with acceptance letters in hand and postcards, letters and emails from your soon-to-be academic home begging you to sign up for New Student Orientation, you need to decide if you want the plump, juicy worm or the dried, desiccated one.
Certainly, new student orientations are great opportunities to meet new people and learn more about the ins and outs of the university. You can play games and get your first taste of dorm food, but the most important part of the orientation is getting your academic future started on the right foot.
Choosing classes at orientation and throughout your college career isn’t just about meeting the demands of your degree plan. We have to pay careful attention to the other demands on our time and the circadian rhythms of our own learning styles.
If you work every night until 2 a.m., you probably don’t want early morning classes. If your brain starts to fade around 2 p.m., don’t take afternoon classes. We need to balance our schedules to maximize our potential for success.
Fortunately, new students get to meet advisors early in the process who will walk them through class schedules and degree plans, but the longer you wait to meet your advisor the fewer classes we have available. Remember, all you new students, there are thousands of other new students who also might want classes at 11 in the morning.
Most important, though, we have to remember that the early bird doesn’t just get the best worm. She also gets the best class schedule.