Thursday, August 27, 2015

How to Reach Me, Fall 2015

Please be proactive about coming to see me. I can give advice about academic problems, and I am interested in general discussion about your academic program. One of your responsibilities at JMU is to choose courses that give you a compelling, challenging and useful education. A part of my function is to help you figure out what those might be, if you want my input.

My first preference is to see you in person, during office hours. You do not need to make an appointment for these. Just show up. I can answer brief procedural questions through e-mail, which I reply to once a day Monday through Friday. If we are going to talk about something important please come see me. The e-mail medium is not conducive to more thoughtful conversations. If you have classes that conflict with all of my office hours, we can arrange (by e-mail) an appointment at our mutual convenience.

My office is Roop 122, inside of Roop 119.
From August 31 forward, my regular fall 2015 office hours are current on my web site:

 My e-mail address is brownet (at) jmu (dot) edu, or e.theta.brown (at) gmail (dot) com

Fall 2015 Start of Term

I. To Do List for the week of August 24-30:

A. If you have not already done so, walk your schedule and locate all your classrooms before classes begin on Monday the 31st.  It is very annoying to miss the first ten minutes of term because you are on the wrong floor of the right building.

B. Purchase the books and other materials you will need for your courses. Expect that there will be reading assignments starting with the first class meeting. If you do not have the book then, you will be behind.

II. Adjusting your schedule:

If you decide you need to change your schedule, do so as soon as possible. The university add/drop period for Fall 2015 extends until midnight on Tuesday September 8, but it is to your advantage to be in your right courses sooner rather than later.

You can change your enrollment via MyMadison, using the same process as in the summer. If you do change your schedule, please send me e-mail to that effect.

(If you need to change your schedule after the Add/Drop deadline, you may be able to withdraw from a course. Whether or not this is a good idea varies with circumstances. If you are considering this, please see me first.)

III. Declaring a minor or a second major:

You may declare a minor or second major starting Monday August 31. Print the Change or Declaration of Major of Minor Form off of the Registrar's  web site:

Collect the relevant signatures, and return the form to the Registrar.

I strongly encourage you to consider a minor in a subject you find interesting, and especially in the humanities. There is a growing chorus of lament in the scientific, business, and industrial communities about STEM graduates' lack of exposure to the humanities. An humanities minor would be excellent for your education and excellent for your career prospects.

IV. How to flourish at JMU:

A. Plan your time. Because you are mathematically inclined, you may be less ready for the demands of university study than other students who have always needed to work hard in their courses.

Make a weekly overview schedule that includes: your classes, two hours of dedicated study time outside of class for every hour you are in class, and at least eight hours of sleep every night.  (Seriously: the eighteen year old brain is still growing. You want your brain to grow. It needs sleep to do this. A dizzying litany of studies show that chronic sleep deprivation stunts academic performance.) Your schedule might also include dedicated time for physical recreation, and other activities that are important to you. Please note that,  unlike in high school, extra curricular activities do not correlate with increased success later on. Focus on doing well in your courses and do extras because you like them.

B. Own your education. Ask questions. Go to each professor's office hours at least once. If a class is too easy, push it forward or change classes. The work should stretch you; come see me if it does not. We can fix that.

V. Please come see me when you are in Roop.
Ask questions if you have them, or tell me everything is going well.