• Stephanie Davis, for the Daily

    Alexandra Leigh, a theater studies student at CU, waits to ask assistant professor Markas Henry a question in class on Monday.

  • Stephanie Davis, for the Daily

    Laura McCall, a theatre and Asian studies major at CU, listens Monday during the first day of Markas Henry s costume design class.



University of Colorado sophomore T.J. Kernan started his second year of college with a typical first-day experience.

After getting to class on time and picking the perfect seat, Kernan grinned as his political science teacher took the podium with a stern face and immediately began her intimidation tactic.

“She tried to come off really tough and make sure we knew she means business,” Kernan said. “But most teachers that try to act tough on the first day usually end up being pretty nice once the class gets started.”

With the start of CU’s fall semester Monday, first-week rituals unfolded as students and professors adjusted to their new schedules.

Chris Heathwood, an assistant philosophy professor, said he realizes students get anxious during the first week and need time to ease into the semester.

“I try to take it easy the first week,” Heathwood said. “I realize students are trying to find their classes so I try to make that first week fun and get to know the students a little.”

Attendance and tardiness are just two of the many things that students in Heathwood’s classes get a pass on for the first week. But next week the pace will pick up, and students will be expected to be prepared, Heathwood said.

“I do frequent pop quizzes throughout the semester that usually start around the second week of class,” Heathwood said. “It’s really around that point in the class when we start diving into the content.”

Some students said they appreciate some down time at the start of the semester, but others would rather get into the meat of the class a little sooner so they can have a more realistic picture of their course load.

CU freshman Carissa Kessel said she’s glad she doesn’t have to worry about being tardy to class this week since she’s still learning the best ways to get around campus. But the deceitful nature of first-week classes doesn’t give her a true depiction of what’s to come.

“I just want to get past these first few days so I can see if the teachers are being straightforward or not,” Kessel said. “It’s hard to tell when they sometimes try to impress you by being tough or really nice during the first class.”

CU graduate student Michael Cousineau said the first week is much different for graduate students, who generally come to class prepared from Day One.

“We still have some of the basic scheduling and syllabus things to go over, but generally it’s more about getting to know the people in the class and your professor,” Cousineau said. “It’s hard to do that in a large lecture hall.”

Lecture halls may have their first-day perks, too.

Theater professor Markas Henry said he planned to let students out early Monday after reviewing the syllabus and talking to his students about their creative background.

But regardless of class size or course level, Henry said there’s one thing all students should keep in mind during the first week.

“Enjoy it while it lasts,” he said. “It’ll be over in no time.”

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