How to Start Your Semester Off Right
1) Mark down all due dates and test dates from your syllabus.
Put these in your phone or your planner, somewhere where you’ll be sure to see them. It’s really easy to tell yourself that you’ll remember that you have a test in three weeks, and then totally forget until the big day.
2) Review your calendar, and make note of which weeks are going to be the busiest.
We all have the weeks where we have three midterms, a group project , and a presentation due. Plan to accomplish things earlier than normal that week, and don’t schedule any meetings or other outings. If you take care now, you can plan ahead for that week and make it much less stressful for yourself.
3) Get into the habit of using your planner.
Or your to-do list system, reminders app on your smartphone, whatever you use to keep track of what you need to accomplish. Write down everything you need to do: homework, studying, errands, etc. In my experience, something doesn’t ever get done unless it’s on my to do list. Check your planner often, and try to cross everything off by the end of the day. You might not have a lot to do now, but soon you will and already being in the habit of using a list will be a life saver that keeps you from forgetting important things.
4) Start studying now.
At the beginning of the semester, there isn’t a lot of material and it all seems easy, but soon it snowballs into four weeks of material that’s gotten increasingly harder. If you start studying at the beginning of the semester, you’ll build yourself a good foundation for the rest of the semester. Having a good grasp on the early material will help you better understand the later material, and getting into the habit of setting aside time everyday to study will make it less painful later on.
5) Reach out to your professors.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask your professors early on. Make an effort to stop by their office hours at least once early on, or at least talk to them before or after class (but only if they encourage that! Don’t try to stop them as they’re running out the door to their next class or meeting). Not only does this get you comfortable with talking to your professors and asking for help, but it’ll help you stick out in their mind. If you need help later on, they are going to be more receptive to helping you because they’ve seen your face and know you’ve been trying all semester. Some professors even slightly bump up grades or offer extra credit for students who they know have put in a lot of effort in the class, and they know you’ve been putting in effort because you’ve been talking to them. Don’t be the person who goes in begging for a higher grade after the test, start getting help beforehand.
6) Get to know your classmates now.
It’s much harder (and more awkward!) to meet someone after you’ve been sitting next to them for a couple of weeks, and chances are you’re going to have to pair up or do a group project at some point. Get to know someone in every class during the first week or two, and you’ll always have a buddy. You can also get their contact information so you can get notes from them if you ever have to miss class. It can also just make class a little more fun and interesting to attend when you have some friends in there. You don’t have to invite these people over or anything, just be friendly.
7) Get involved now.
The beginning of the semester is the time to join clubs, a sorority, or anything like that. Decide now what you want to do during the semester, and get on it now before you miss your chance. If you don’t start out your semester active in events, you probably won’t suddenly decide to do so later, and you might have even missed your chance to get involved until next year.