Preparing For A New Semester

For all of my students out there, a new semester is quickly approaching if it hasn’t started already. I’m personally very excited for this semester to start for several reasons:

  1. Excited to do well this semester
  2. Excited on my new life and career goals and this semester is going to help me start to pursue them
  3. *Religion* Excited to be back on campus for CCM (Catholic Campus Ministry) to hang with all of my friends, adoration, and I get confirmed this Easter!

Anyways let’s get a move on to how I prepare for the new semester!

Step #1) Spring Cleaning!

Now, the kind of spring cleaning I’m talking about isn’t the one that takes a week to get through as you make your way through your house. The cleaning I’m talking about is simply involving your old notebooks, textbooks, and supplies. Sell any textbooks you won’t need in the future; discard any notebooks that you won’t be using or referring to this upcoming semester; get rid of any supplies that aren’t useful or broken.

Be honest with yourself. There may be some notes you’ll say you will refer to throughout the semester, but be honest and think about this. Will you really pull this off of your shelf past the first two weeks of class, if even that? 

If you take notes on the computer or have powerpoints from classes downloaded that you feel iffy about, I highly encourage you to upload them to Google Drive (it’s free!). You’ll always have access to them, but it won’t  be taking up space on your computer. This leads me to the next step in spring cleaning. Be sure to clean off your computer from the desktop to your browser!

If there are things you want to keep, but not on your computer just upload them to Google Drive. If you aren’t going to use them, delete it. Be sure to bookmark any pages on your browser that could be useful in your studies (e.g. sites that have labeling worksheets for your anatomy class)

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Step #2) Evaluate, Research & Adjust 

Since you have a clean area, now it’s time to review last semester. Think of what your goals were last semester and if you met them. Whether you met them or not, think about what you did throughout the semester to obtain the result that you did. Did you get a C+ in the class you aimed to get an A in? Was this because you did the minimum at the last minute? Consider the courseload you took then and what you’re taking this semester. What are your difficult classes? Any sequel classes this semester that you’ve taken the pre-requisite for previously?

The next step is to do some research! I personally love the search for something new if I can’t come up with a new technique on my own. Honestly, changing it up gives me a new jolt of energy and motivation to try out these new study techniques. My personal go-to place is youtube.com. Now something I’ve always done, was to study like I was in the part of my life I was aiming to get. I don’t know if that makes sense, but look at it this way: in high school, I looked up study techniques for college; in college, I look up study techniques for grad school. While there is only so much you may be able to apply, the feeling that I was studying like a college or graduate student, was furthered my motivation to study.

And finally, adjust! I personally make a study plan. Long story short, the study plan is how I plan to study for each of my individual classes. I’ll admit there are some classes you won’t know how to study for until you get there, but after 3 years at the same university I’ve gotten a feel for how I best store, relate, and receive information. Not to mention, there is always someone who has taken the class before you! My university has a Class of 2017, 2018, 2019, etc. page for each of the classes, so I usually just post to most of them asking if someone has taken a class with a certain professor (or ask my friends if they’ve taken it) in case I don’t have a clue as to what to expect in this class.

Step #3) Syllabi and Planners! 

This part is pretty straightforward, but basically as soon as your syllabi are available, go ahead and print them and grab your planner! I personally print the whole syllabus for each of my classes and highlight the professor’s office hours and location, phone number and email! Then, I proceed to write down all of exam/quizzes/project dates for each class in the monthly and weekly view. Once I’m done with that, I go back to the weekly view and write down the assignments in the weekly view.

Now there are two ways to go about this: write down the assignments on the days you want to complete the assignments or write them on the day it’s due. For the first option, be sure to look at the days/weeks you have a lot of exams or projects to do. If you are heavily involved with school activities, I suggest only planning two-three weeks at a time, since you may get behind on readings/assignments and need to make up for it at sometime. The second option, I personally wouldn’t do more than a month in advance, just because professors tend to shift dates around a lot.

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Step #4) Assignment Tracker (Optional) 

Using an Excel sheet, you can list out all of your classes and assignments (ordered by due dates). This is a great tool to have, especially if you aren’t a big planner fan or simply want something you can quickly look at and see upcoming due dates all in one place in a list format. Here is sneak peek of my tracker from last semester.Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 5.46.34 PM.png

Step #5 Supplies! 

If you need to stock up on a few things, go ahead and grab some supplies! I’ll be doing a post on finding textbooks for a low price next week so stay tuned! I tend to stock up on supplies for both semesters during the fall back to school sale, so I generally don’t need to buy much, if anything. A basic list of supplies that are a must have for me are:

  1. Notebooks
  2. Highlighters
  3. Decent pens (I love my Papermate pens- Inkjoy and Gel Ink)
  4. Stapler/staples
  5. Dry Erase Markers
  6. Post it notes
  7. Planner
  8. Study Apps (iStudiez Pro, Quizlet, etc.)
  9. Printer paper & Ink
  10. Class required textbooks/workbooks/study guides

Step #6 Semester Goals 

I tend to set up ~5 goals for each semester. I encourage you to think outside of academic goals too! Yes, academic goals are important, especially when talking about semester goals but there’s so much more to college than academics! Maybe you want to be more involved in a club, become a mentor, spend more time by yourself, perhaps you have wellness or spiritual goals you want to reach. Consider adding this the list of goals you are creating. It’ll help with not just basing your worth on your academics, which is so much better than founding your worth solely on whether you are reaching a 4.0 or not. I’ll also have a separate post on this subject within the next couple of weeks for those of you who would like more information!

Step #7) Priorities

This step was the hardest for me, because I had to be honest with what my priorities are versus what they should be according to my goals for the semester/year. Of course it’s easy to say family or academics is the #1 priority but when family is your number one, but you spend all of your time at the library and rarely see your family, are they really your number one priority? Or when academics is #1 but you decide to call it quits after an hour of studying and watch Netflix for the rest of night, obviously Netflix takes place of academics. Take some time to reflect of what your priorities are versus your goals. Are these two things in agreement? If they aren’t on the same page, it may prove to be difficult  to stick to your priorities and accomplish your goals. IMG_6803.JPG

Step #8) Schedule Template (Optional) 

For me, this is an important step that can’t be missed, however, for others, it’s not worth doing. Do whatever works best for you! The idea is you’ll sketch out a rough week in the average week of classes. I tend to use google calendar or Ical for this. First I put in my classes, then my work times. Following this, I began marking off times that I’m aware of, of recurring meetings/events. Then I began blocking off time to study, workout, write, etc. This definitely helped me, because it helped me get to bed by 9 or 10 pm every night. Now, this isn’t to say it’ll always work out (life happens right?) but it’ll give you a rough idea of what you should be doing and when in order to meet the goals you’ve set above and have a successful semester!

Do you have any tips/advice on preparing for a new semester? If so, be sure to leave a comment below so we can all try them out! Good luck everyone! I hope you all have a highly successful semester!