The first day of the semester is almost always one of the most intimidating, no matter what classes you are taking, what major you are, or what year of school you are in. Syllabus week is usually pretty laid back since the main activity is getting the course schedule and outline. However, with those documents comes the academic and personal expectations that school has officially begun; it is time to get back into the routine of attending classes and staying on top of course readings, which feels neverending, with that first day back. We also get a better understanding of the true nature of those classes on our schedules. Usually, the blurb in the course catalog and the reviews on Rate My Professors does not really do the course justice.
I am a communication management major, which focuses on interpersonal communication dynamics and how communication impacts daily encounters on both a personal level and a professional level. I fell into the major when I transferred to Cleveland State University and realized all the courses I was interested in met the requirements of the communication management degree program. Last semester, a course I had signed up for as an elective was not at all what I was expecting, due to the fact that I mixed it up with a different course, so I ended up dropping it and adding a different elective for the following semester, a course called Communication and Negotiation. I was intrigued by it because it dealt with conflict resolution and fit perfectly into my degree program.
I didn't really know what to expect with the course, so I went into the first day of classes with zero expectations. I waited in the hall and talked with a girl I had seen in a few of my other communications courses. The professor was running a few minutes late but once she opened the room up, we all filed in. I chose a random seat somewhere in the middle. We all know how the first day is choosing our unassigned assigned seat. The professor passed out schedules and the syllabus, stating that getting a copy on yellow paper meant nothing special. Already, I was caught off guard.
She began to explain the syllabus and how this is a "skills-based" class, not lecture-based, meaning that there would be many opportunities to learn the material through exercises in negotiation. The professor has a pass/fail requirement for journal reflections on the in-class negotiations, meaning that students need a passing grade on all journal assignments to receive full points toward the final grade. There would be four opportunities to turn in journals and the actual amount of journals to be counted towards the pass/fail grade were to be determined. In-class participation meant showing up prepared to participate in discussion with educated opinions, and if you don't say anything, then you don't get marked as present. To top it off, exam format was also to be determined, or rather, negotiated.
The tentative course schedule, yet rigid expectations were incredibly intimidating to me. The professor has a strong background in mediation, conflict resolution, and negotiation, and is passionate about the students learning the principles behind negotiation so that we can apply them in all sorts of situations. With all this information thrown at me, as well as the unusual and tentative nature of the course, I was so tempted to log onto my phone, search for alternative electives, see if there were any spots left, and drop the class then and there. The intense series of ice-breakers with fellow students did not help.
However, with all this going on, I realized that this is a course I genuinely wanted to take. Conflict resolution has always been so fascinating to me. I am all about people just getting along and being happy, but that is not realistic; ignoring and avoiding conflict is not healthy, either. I realized that in learning ways to resolve conflict and negotiate, as uncomfortable as it may feel initially, can actually help me not to be so afraid of it, just like taking this course. Even though it may be scary and intimidating at first, I know it will help me grow and will offer an opportunity to better myself, while also helping me finish my degree and prepare myself for the real world.
Here's to staying in this course and seeing this semester through with hard work, time management, and patience with the process, I know I can succeed in this course, in this semester, and in life. Personal growth is not meant to be easy, though it is absolutely worth it.