The first semester of the school year always has its share of challenges; wake up calls, if you will, from a summer sleep. Workloads are unfamiliar, tight schedules make you remember what a planner is for, and midterms and finals weeks remind all students that the library can be a comfortable place to sleep – just use a jacket as a pillow. In short, the first semester has a tendency of catching students a little off guard.
But by Winter Break, most students can say with confidence that they are, in fact, finally back in “school mode” (better late than never, right?). And by the New Year, students are ready take on the next term with greater confidence, and even raised standards.
Though the goals set at the start of every semester can be derailed by a number of unpredictable things (a summer hangover being one of them), how you do rise to those goals is a much more predictable equation. And solving it begins with a semester’s first week.
Here are some initial tips for getting your semester, and year, started on the right track.
HAVE a “disaster plan”
If you’ve been in college for any amount of time, you know that things don’t always go as planned. Especially when it comes to getting the classes you want. Make sure you have a thorough backup plan, or even a few, that outline what you’ll do in the case of not getting into the classes you’re on waitlists for, or those you’re “crashing.” This way, you’ll know which classes to pursue if your initial choices don’t pan out, or if you suddenly need to drop a class for whatever reason. The last thing you want is to delay your graduation date because classes filled up before you even realized you needed them.
Get textbooks early
The easiest way to fall behind in a class is (surprise, surprise) to not have the book you need to do the homework. If you haven’t already, find out which textbooks you’ll need for each of your classes and begin finding the best deals on them – you’ll be more prepared and save money.
Develop your routine
To truly pick up where you left off last semester it’s important to set a productive tempo early. Make sure you have a rough plan for each day so that when school really starts to pick up you won’t have to relearn how to properly manage your time.
Get sleep, but rise early
When getting into a daily routine, don’t overlook planning your sleep schedule. Establishing a regular sleep schedule is an important part of getting back into school mode, and the extra rest you can get during the first week of class can keep you alert and even more interested in class. However, be wary of sleeping in too late. You don’t want to develop a habit that makes it near impossible to rise early once it becomes a necessity.
Hit the library
You probably won’t feel the need to head to the library after a class’s first session (often referred to as “syllabus day”). What you’ll really want to think is that there’s nothing to study. But don’t kid yourself, there is – there always is. You can start by getting a solid idea of what each of your classes will demand by looking over each of their syllabi. Then, if there’s really nothing assigned, you can get a head start on future reading and assignments. You’ll never have as much time to study as you do the first week of instruction.
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