Starting a New Semester

Starting a new semester can create a lot of stress for new and returning students alike. Figuring out the location of classes and learning about course demands are some of the most daunting factors. Having a strategy from the start can be the best way to prepare yourself to meet those demands with ease. Consider the following tips to perform your best this fall!

Get the right tools


Take some time over summer break to find a planner that will work for you. I always look for one that is the right size to carry around (smaller), but with enough space to make short notes. I also pick one that inspires me somehow. It could have an inspirational message on the cover, a fun or bright graphic, or offer some type of suggestions inside on how to stay organized.

It is important to draw on your school experiences to determine what type of notes you will make to yourself in your planner. The first thing that you should do is note when finals week will take place. When you receive your syllabi, note important deadlines and exams. From there, you can determine a reading schedule, study days, or other important dates.

Keep your book bag tidy, desk space clean


This one is very important, but more of a chore. Keeping up with assignments is challenging enough without having to fight through clutter to find an important document. Make it a point to arrive a few minutes early, or stay a few minutes after, each class to organize documents. When at home, hole punch handouts and place them in divided sections. A little time here goes a long way. Perhaps what makes this tip most important is that if you have a stack of unorganized papers on your desk, you don’t have them with you at the library when you need them! Or you may not notice you left your printed final paper behind!

Slow down so you don’t have to work harder. A little cleanliness goes a long way to ease stress.


Make notes to yourself


Figure out a system to draw attention to notes of various priority. I would write very briefly in my planner (sometimes in different pen colors), and use sticky notes to record corresponding information. I would remove them when I used the information or completed the task. That way, I could clutter up my current week with sticky notes, but throw them out in celebration every Sunday!

Create a productive atmosphere


This is the last and hardest one of all, and could take years to figure out! It is so important to find out what works for you. I always decorated my binders with photos or graphics that would make me happy. A short mental break looking at photos from the beach would set my mind at ease.

Don’t make it harder for yourself! Give yourself the most time you can to complete assignments, and even on an off-day, you will still complete some work and feel accomplished. I would find a space on campus to study or write papers that had a variety of people: hanging out and drinking coffee, listening to music with earbuds and quietly typing, or meeting for group study. The steady noise level made me feel calm and focused, and if I wanted to take a break, I could get some coffee and talk to friends without packing up my things. Because of this multi-purpose space, I could stay for hours and not lose motivation. The library café became my office away from home!