OpenLab #1: Advice from the Past

For the past several years I have taught this same course in the Fall semester.   At the end of each course, I give my students the following assignment:

Imagine that you are invited to speak on the first day of MAT 2071, to give advice to entering students.  Write at least three sentences … describing what you would tell them.

To see the assignment and the students’ responses, follow this link for Fall 2018 and this link for Fall 2017.

Your assignment, due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, September 3th, is to:

  1. Read through ALL the responses (there are 25 of them altogether).
  2. Write a reply to this post (1 paragraph) responding to all of the following:
    1. What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)
    2. Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

Extra Credit. For extra credit, write a response to one of your classmates’ comments.  Do you have any advice?  Be kind.


  1. Youshmanie Sukraj

    I believe the most relevant piece of advice shared by former MAT 2071 students is to focus on foundational elements in the course such as sets, cardinality, etc. By doing so, one will be able to successfully integrate and connect these core aspects of the course into more advanced topics such as proofs. I believe this is important so that new material does not begin to feel overwhelming. Additionally, taking homework assignments and extra credit opportunities seriously has been mentioned by multiple students and is relatable information as the importance of these aspects in a course are typically overlooked. I believe I can begin to effectively manage my time and avoid procrastination to ensure I am being efficient and successfully completing each assignment. I also believe that forming a study group with fellow classmates would help me succeed in this course so that I am able to gain different perspectives and perhaps better understand certain topics.

    • Jonas Reitz

      Thanks for being our first-to-comment! I really like what you wrote – you mention a lot of great stuff (I’m especially a fan of the study group idea – go for it).

    • mathwizard

      This was a good summary of the 25 post but my advice for you is that I hope you don’t forget to take vantage to write a comment for extra credit number 1.

  2. mathwizard

    The advice that seemed most relevant to my personally is the one that mentioned the two Ps and not to procrastinate. This is because I don’t like to get things wrong and if I did I’ll feel bad but mostly embarrassed but honestly this is fundamentally because it identifies weakness and things I need to work on to grow. Secondly, I tend to do things last minute and by doing this I can easily cheat myself out of HW points but also extra credit opportunities. Therefore, I need to tackle this class differently. For starers, I can be proactive in my work because in the end it is ultimately my grade so I have to try harder to identify my problems. Furthermore, if I just do the work I can get more time to play gam…uh I mean study so I can be stress free.

    • Jonas Reitz

      My most effective learning experiences often happen when I am wrong – so it’s good to embrace it! (but you don’t have to like it…). Great!

    • Randy C.

      Not everyone is perfect so don’t worry about getting a few things wrong here and there. For example, Prof. Reitz still can’t get Dylan’s name correct ;D Everything is always a learning experience. Whether it be in academics or in life, there will always be a few things wrong here and there. My advice to you is to just feel confident in yourself and feel free to reward yourself by playing games after you complete doing homework and a bit of studying.

  3. Randy C.

    The advice that was most relevant to me was to simply participate and ask questions before/in/after class. Normally I stay quiet and just listen but in several of my other courses, I realized that it’s better to attempt to answer questions, even if you’re wrong because chances are, someone else in the class also has the same question but is too shy to ask. I still lack in participating but it is something I will definitely work on through this semester. Understanding every single topic is essential. Just like several of the former MAT2071 students had said, everything builds on top of the next topic so it is super duper important to always ask questions and not be left behind. I will do my best to ask questions when I need help and encourage my other classmates to do the same. Not just in this course but in every course we all take.

    • Jonas Reitz

      I really like your comment: “it’s better to attempt to answer questions, even if you’re wrong because chances are, someone else in the class also has the same question but is too shy to ask” — I look at asking questions (and making mistakes, for that matter) as a group effort. We each need to do our part, and it’s much easier if everyone does it!

  4. Aurkaw Biswas

    The advice that seemed most relevant to me is to not do everything last minute. I struggle with procrastination a lot. Also, it is a bit of a challenge to get adjusted into college after a summer of not doing anything. I will have to make sure to do my homework on time.

    • Jonas Reitz

      Transitions always leave me a bit unsettled – it takes me a while to get into the new routine, and while it’s new it’s especially difficult! When I get used to it, it’s not so bad…hope it’s the same for you.

  5. Songyu

    The advice that seemed most relevant to me is being proactive. I think this is important for college students and even being success in this course. Because the college study system and teaching system are different than high school; college students have to spend extra time to study by yourself and reasonably arrange study time. Ask questions in class, finish homework on time, prepare for exam, review the lesson, and so on are helping us be more success. However, you have to being proactive. In order to help me to be success in this course, I think I need to create a study plan( I am a lazy person, I usually finish my HW in the last minute of due day). Study plan can me focus on time and what I need to study, and ask questions in class is very helpful for you.

    • Jonas Reitz

      Yes, I don’t think our elementary & high school system does the best job of preparing people to be independent, proactive students. Another challenge to sort out as you make your way through college. You’re off to a good start – good luck!

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