It’s that time of year again. Summer is coming to a close and college students are eager to get back to campus. You’re getting ready to go back to school and want to be prepared in order to start the semester off right.
Although summer vacation is over, there’s a sense of excitement with the new school year beginning. So many opportunities await college students, whether it’s meeting new people or creating memories with old friends, this time of year college students are more than ready to get back to living the best four years of their lives.
Yet along with all the fun, memorable times, comes studying, delving into your major, and earning a degree; the reason you’re here in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, scouring Pinterest for the perfect dorm decor and getting ready for the social life are critical parts of the “college experience,” but so is the educational part. Want to be able to handle all the coursework and ace each class? Then here is how to prepare for a new school year and start the semester off right.
This article is about how to start a new semester off right.
1. Get Organized
As a college student, you’ll be insanely busy. Between classes, clubs, work, and trying to maintain a social life, it can be a lot to balance.
Yet in order to make life easier on yourself and find that balance, you need to get organized.
The most effective way to organize your classes and extracurriculars is to write everything (and yes I do mean everything) down on a calendar or in a planner.
At the start of each month, I like to write down my assignments, exam dates, club meetings, etc. in Google Calendar or on a wipe board calendar. That way you can see what your entire month looks like at once, and it can help you plan and stay on top of your work.
Some other ways to stay organized include clearing off your desk frequently so you can actually study there, or finding a designated study spot. In addition, take some time to organize your clothes, beauty products, and toiletries just the way you like it when setting up your dorm. Trust me, you’ll just feel better and more efficient once everything’s in the right place.
2. Dissect Your Syllabus
When you get your syllabus, actually read it.
Go through the syllabus to see what textbooks you need, make a note of your professor’s office hours, and circle anything confusing, that way you can ask the professor for clarification once class begins.
Additionally, you should write down the important dates for your class in your planner or on your calendar. This will help you SO MUCH in the long run when you’re planning your semester and it ensures that you’ll never miss a deadline. These dates are tentative, but they give you a general idea of what the semester will look like.
3. Research Your Professors & Reach Out to Them
One way to find out what a class entails is to research your professor for any student reviews or ask friends who’ve had that professor before. The student reviews will give you insight as to what to expect, which can help you start a new semester off right.
Look up your professor on Rate My Professor to see their reviews and to gauge what the class will be like. How are their grading procedures? Will there be a lot of work? Don’t freak if they have terrible reviews– still, give the class a shot and then if you decide it’s not for you, drop it.
Keep in mind that professors with a bad review can still actually be a good thing. That is, if the class is hard or they give a lot of work, it will challenge you and in the long run, you’ll become a better student. Yet if you’re looking to get a core requirement out of the way, you may not want to be challenged so much.
Before classes commence, email your professors to introduce yourself and ask them if they have any tips for their class. Not only will this get you on their radar, but it can help you determine how much effort to put toward each class.
4. Buy Textbooks and School Supplies
This is an obvious one but so essential to getting prepared for a new semester!
Try renting your textbooks from Amazon or Chegg, but don’t knock the school bookstore until you try it. I guess it depends on the school, but some of my textbooks are cheaper at the bookstore than other so-called “cheap” textbook purchasing services. Before you make the purchase, look at all your options to find the best value.
As for school supplies, I recommend keeping it simple with a couple of spiral notebooks, folders, maybe some post-its, and a few pens and pencils. That’s really all you need, but you know what school supplies you work best with!
5. Find Your Classes
Walk around campus before the first day of classes to see which buildings and rooms you’ll have to go to. That way you won’t look like a lost freshman trying to find their way around!
Even if you’re an upperclassman that’s been around for a while, it can still be helpful to do a tour of all your classes so you know the best way to get there and how long the walk will be.
6. Set Goals & Envision an Amazing Semester
As classes are beginning, set some goals for yourself and imagine what you want to accomplish.
Do you want to ace that one class? Are you trying to make the Dean’s list? Have you been striving for that 4.0? Do you simply just want to live your best life?
Write these goals down in a place you’ll see them everyday to help you keep them in mind because doing so will make you stay motivated.
7. Join Clubs ASAP
Joining clubs as soon as you get to campus will help you out in more ways than one, especially if you’re a freshman! Clubs are a great way to meet people, and as a bonus, they look good on a resume.
A great way to find clubs that interest you is by going to the club fair, where all the clubs your school has to offer will be on display to recruit new members.
Join as many clubs as you can and stay active in them, then once you find the ones you like the most, stick with them and drop the ones you’re not so interested in.
It sounds cliche to say “join clubs” but trust me, just do it. Doing so will ensure you get the most out of your college experience.
8. Play Some Feel-Good Music
Cheesy, I know.
But the best way to start the semester off right is to get excited about it! And what better way to do that than listening to some music that puts you in a good mood?
Make a new back-to-school playlist on Spotify, and you can even collaborate on it with your friends if you want.
9. Pay Attention to Your Health
You can’t crush your goals and have the best semester of your life if you’re neglecting your health. It’s important to start a new semester off right by taking care of yourself in first few weeks after you arrive, which will eventually become habitual.
As important as it is to study and stay on top of your work, you also want to be sure you’re eating right, socializing with friends, and keeping your mental health in check.
A great way to focus on your health amidst the craziness that is college is to carve out some free time each day. While you have free time, do something that will help you; go to the gym, read a book, take a walk outside, meal prep– do whatever you need to do that puts your mind and body at ease.
10. Stay Positive
If you’re a college student, you know there can be many ups and downs. And if you’re a freshman, get ready for one heck of a roller coaster ride (a good roller coaster, that is)!
While the highs of college feel amazing, the lows of college can hurt. The best way to start a new semester off right is to be prepared and know that you will hit a low at some point, but you should stay positive when you do.
The mindset you have going into the semester can make all the difference. Maintaining a positive mindset, although difficult at times, and being that glass-half-full type of person will improve your college experience for the best.
As the summer wraps up and the fall season sets in, college students are getting ready to return to campus. Yet with all the excitement of starting school again, you want to be sure you’re returning to campus the right way. This article goes over how to prepare for college and start a new semester off right so that you can continue living out the best four years of your life while succeeding in the classroom.
Christine Eve is a college junior who is passionate about using her writing skills to help other like-minded students navigate college. Her blog, ChristineEve.com, is a college lifestyle and career prep blog that guides students through the best four years of their life, all while helping them live out their dreams.