How to Prepare for a New Semester

Call me a nerd, but I love the beginning of a new semester. From new school supplies to a new daily routine, I love that things switch up a little bit. I remember that when I was entering my first semester of my freshman year of college I was completely unsure of how to successfully start off my semester in college. I had quickly learned that college was a lot different than high school and even the beginning of the year is a bit different. So here are my tips on how to have a successful semester.

Fill out your planner for the semester.

If you’ve been around here for a while you are well aware of the fact that I say over and over again just how important having a planner is to getting through life, especially if you are in school. At the beginning of the semester I enjoy taking the time to sit down with my syllabus for each class and fill in when assignments, quizzes, and projects are due and then mark the days that we have tests. This way I have every written down and organized before the semester gets too crazy. Since I also like to utilize Google calendar, I will add my classes and put marks on the days that I have tests. An extra reminder about important things like tests can never hurt.

Make a schedule of TA/office hours.

I didn’t start doing this until last semester but it is definitely one of the best things that I have ever done for myself. When you get your syllabus for each class at the beginning of the year, sit down and write out what times you can meet with a professor each day for a class, even if you have another class when they have TA hours. I personally used Word to make mine and used a different color for each class. I kept it in my homework folder that lives in my backpack so if I needed to get help on an assignment, had to e-mail a professor that I couldn’t make their office hours, or suddenly had an hour of spare time to get help that I didn’t usually have, I could quickly reference this sheet. It is a wonderful thing to do and I highly recommend that you do something similar as well.

Read your syllabus.

I know it sounds silly and you hear it over and over again, but it’s true. You need to read your syllabus. I can’t begin to explain the amount of help I’ve been able to get just from reading through them the first week of classes. One of my teacher’s actually wrote in our math syllabus that she pulled all of the quiz questions from the practice tests in our textbook. Guess who was the only person who caught onto that for the whole semester? Me. And it was because I had read the syllabus! As a side note: I will forever be grateful to that professor. Obviously.

Organize your binder/dividers/folders.

For me, the beginning of the semester means that it is time to break out the new school supplies. I like to spend time labeling my notebooks and folders, putting my textbooks into new binders (anyone else’s university use loose textbooks that are hole punched instead of bound textbooks?), and then putting what I need such as my new syllabus into the right class folder. That way I have everything organized and pulled together before the craziness of the semester begins.

Replace pencils/pens/highlighters.

I hope that someone else out there can relate to the fact that pens always die, pencils run out of lead and the eraser turns to nothing, and then all of my highlighters die. And it’s always at the end of the semester or when I happen to need them most. So to avoid having this happen to me I fill my pencil pouch and zipper pocket in my backpack with pencils, lead, pens, and highlighters. It’s super convenient when you lose your last pen to open your backpack and pull from the ones you put there.

Clean out your backpack.

While I’m a neat freak in basically every area of my life, the two things that I’ve always struggled with keeping clean are my sock drawer and my backpack. Two most random things ever, I know, but it’s the truth. Before the beginning of a new semester I like to take the time to go through my backpack and through away all of the papers, flashcards, dead pens/highlighters, old Post-It notes, and whatever else happened to find its way into my bag. I also carry an iClicker and portable charger in my backpack at all times, so I will replace the batteries in my iClicker and charger my portable charger. It’s always nice to already have those things set and ready to go before the craziness of a new semester starts.

Make new morning/evening routines.

I mentioned above that one of my favorite things about the new semester is the fact that it brings along new routines. Personally, I strive off of routines, they run my days and help keep me sane. It seems like the further I’ve gotten into college, the more I’ve learned about what I need to add to my morning and evening routines to make my days as stress free as possible. This semester I’m striving to make my to-do list the night before and to back my backpack/lunchbox/gym bag the night before so I’m not rushing to do it the morning of. It always seems like what would take 5 minutes to do at night takes 15 minutes to do in the morning. Or maybe that’s just me too…

Make new daily routines.

Back to routines, I also think a daily routine is important as well. Last semester the latest I had a class start was 9am, but this semester the latest a class starts is 12:15, which is a bit of a switch up for me. I’ve made it a goal to get up and get ready every day at 6:30am and then dive into homework and studying right after because my mornings are always the most productive times for me. Then I head to class, go to the gym after, finish up a little work in the afternoon, go to work/organization meetings in the evenings, and work on the blog at night. It definitely takes a while to get into the swing of things, but at least having things mapped out helps a lot.

Set your goals for the semester.

Personally, I love setting goals. And while I’m not a person to set resolutions or to think that a Monday, first of the month, or whatever reason people use to put off setting goals. I think you should make goals and go for it. While the new semester does seem like one of those, I do enjoy sitting down and reevaluating where I am and where I want to be. I love to reevaluate school, health and fitness, personal, involvement, financial, professional/work, and spiritual. lpcolumbia@edrtrust.com

Are any of these part of your routine for starting a new semester? Is there anything that you do that isn’t on this list? I’d love to hear how you prepare for a new semester in the comments below!

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  • Dri Bla

    Me thank you for your posts! 😉
    Our economy is in decline. It’s really hard to get a job here. (A man seeks a job for 3 and a half years with 5-6 papers of education, and all is being offered: cleaning the streets for lower than the minimal wage. Doctors move abroad, nurses work for minimal wage for 12 hours… If you’d like to know more just look up Hungary.)
    A highlighter is 350 HUF, which is 1,21 USD. A new pair of jeans (Chinese quality) is approx 4000 HUF, 13,88 USD. It might not sound expensive. But to be honest 70% of the population here lives from month to month. Being on one salary is not fun. The living part is often excluded from life. (Going to the movies with popcorn & drinks is really like a luxory date! That’s why we prefer “netflix & chill” :D)
    I like what you think! “College student on a strict budget”. Next time I’ll say that! Hahaha 😀
    Dóri

  • Hey!

    I’m so glad that you liked this post. Best of luck to you on your last exam. I love the sounds of your desktop planner system! It’s such a great idea to start your day by reading what you are planning to do for the day.

    I never thought of how expensive it could be overseas to buy new school supplies. I like to think that instead of being a poor college student I’m a “college student on a strict budget”. I literally raid Wal-Marts school supplies pens for stuff at low prices at the beginning of the year and stock up on new supplies for both semesters.

    A daily routine is definitely something that I recommend trying! I’d love to hear about how it goes for you!

    Thank you for your sweet comments today! 🙂

  • Dri Bla

    Hey!

    I haven’t finished my exams yet, I need to take one more (hopefully just one). So my shopping time is being delayed… I don’t use a planner. I have a desktop/table calendar with daily columns and I write down what I have to do. Only one glace at the morning and I won’t forget the main points all day.

    I realllllly love buying new pens, highlighters and stuff! But It is just so expensive in Hungary for an average student to buy all new things. I usually don’t buy when I start a new semester… Instead, I rush through the departments at the local hypermarket seeking for sales. Sometimes I run into great offers. So that.

    Setting up a daily routine is now being considered as a must. I totally need to work on my waking up schedule. 🙂
    Thanks! Great post.