#91 TRENDING IN Student Life 🔥

How to Prepare for a New Semester

Student Life

April 10, 2023

Oh no! The holiday is coming to an end and school bells are ringing. You just barely started enjoying the holiday when your school's website got updated with the new semester's calendar and you only have two weeks to go! You don't know where to start from, what to do or even what to think about the approaching semester.

Don't worry, I've got you covered.

In this article, I'm going to explain a step-by-step process for preparing yourself for a new semester, starting with when you just remembered you're still in college (lol), till the night before your first class. So grab your pen and paper (or your digital notepad) and let's begin.


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I'm talking about both mental and physical decluttering. As the new semester is approaching, you need to let go of any unnecessary worry that's clogging your memory. Things like how many episodes of a Netflix show you have left, or all the exciting places you're yet to visit are probably the last things you should be worried about when the new semester is around the corner.

As hard as it seems, you need to refocus your mind on more important things like how to get your college life together in one week.

A new semester means new courses and new resources. Get rid of old notes, exhausted biros and highlighters and old textbooks you won't be needing for the semester. You can donate them or sell them or put them in an old pile or another room, just make sure they're not in your current workspace.

If you use a tablet or laptop to manage your school work, then it's also a good time to archive your old digital note folders and online study materials. The reason I don't suggest deleting them is that you may need to reference them later. So, simply move them out of your current workspace on your computer to make room for the new courses you'll have next semester.

Also, clear your backpack and cloth boxes of stuff you won't be needing anymore if you're staying in your college dorm.

Do a previous semester reflection

Think about the previous semester. What went well for you? What didn't?

What can you do better? Think about the different study techniques you may have tried and remember which ones worked well for me and what didn't.

For instance, I used to take summary notes when studying for an exam until I realised that it was stressful and time-consuming. The next semester, I tried circling and underlining key points instead, and it worked really well for me (I still took notes though, but it was less).

Aside from your studies, think about other extracurricular activities you did last semester, like clubs or even what you did to relax. Did they work well for you? Would you continue?

Doing a previous semester reflection is so important because it can help in planning a better semester and prevent you from repeating any mistakes.

Know your courses

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Most college departments give handbooks that contain all the courses from the first year to the final year. If yours does this, this would be a good time to check out what courses you'll be offering next semester.

Once you have your courses, you can do some basic research on them just so you know what to expect from the class. You should also find out their venues and times so as to plan your schedule. If you want to be extra, you can also find their professors (probably also in the handbook) and email them to get a scheme of work.

Plan any extracurriculars beforehand

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You can decide which clubs, sports, religious activities (e.g church meetings for Christians) and volunteer activities you're going to get involved in beforehand, as this will help you organise your time better.

After deciding, you can start planning steps to join or get supplies you may need. For instance, if you're starting a new sport, you can go shopping for that sport's gear and outfits. You can also take the time to learn more about a student club or organisation you want to join by visiting their website if they have any, or even contacting an executive member of that particular club.

Set realistic goals

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I know it's exciting to write goals at the beginning of every new thing, especially in college. However, you must be careful not to get carried away.

Don't just write goals you 'wish' to accomplish, write goals that you 'will' actually accomplish, and to do this you have to write your goals correctly by writing both long-term and short-term goals.

One thing I like to do when writing my goals is to write the steps I need to take to accomplish that goal. For instance, if you have a goal to get a perfect GPA at the end of the semester, don't just write 'Score all A's' on your planner and think you've set the goal, write down exactly how you wish to accomplish that.

First, decide what it means to get an A in all your courses. At my school, it means you must score at least 70/100 on a course. Breaking this further would mean scoring at least 20/30 in my assessment and 50/70 in my final exams. Not so bad, right?

Then, I need to make sure I fulfill these two by doing things that'll help me get there overtime, e.g revising my notes, doing practice questions, submitting all my assignments and studying past questions for all my courses.

At the end of my planning, my goal may look something like this:

Goal: Score all A's and get a perfect GPA

Sub-Goal: Score at least 20/30 in my assessment and 50/70 in my final exams.

Weekly goals:

  • Revise every chapter and do the practice questions.
  • Submit all my assignments for each course
  • Do an hour of past questions for each course.

This method of goal planning can be applied outside of school work. Say you want to run a marathon this semester. You can:

  • Do 15 minutes of exercise daily
  • Running a mile every two days
  • Attempt to run a marathon at the end of every month till you finally accomplish it.

Fix your sleep pattern

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Most college classes are usually morning classes and being on time will require you to wake up by at least 6am everyday. Hence, you need to fix your sleeping pattern if you want to get a good amount of sleep and still rise early each day.

Start a week prior to resumption to master sleeping and waking up on time. It will be optimal to set a specific time for sleeping and waking up, as this can help your body adjust to the new pattern before school actually resumes.

All those late night binges on Netflix and YouTube can not continue if you must have a productive semester ahead of you. Discipline requires sacrifice, and abandoning your favourite channels/shows is a small price to pay for the best health and progress throughout the semester.

Stock up on school supplies

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Don't be the person who's always borrowing a pen and never has personal supplies. Buy stationary, textbooks, sticky notes, planners and whatever else you'll need in the coming semester.

Also, if you're someone who uses tech gadgets for your school work, inspect your gadgets to ensure they're in good condition and replace anything that needs replacement, e.g buying a new charger, or getting another flash drive for your school work.

If you're living in a dorm, this is also a good time to buy your dorm supplies if necessary.

Pack in advance

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Don't wait till the night before resumption before you pack your bags for college. Do it days or even a week before, to prevent rushing, which can probably make you forget some things.

To pack effectively, make a list of everything you need and put it into different categories so that you can check them off as you place them. Doing this can also help you remember if you forget something you need.

Make room for changes.

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As great as planning is, make room for changes. There may be uncertainties during the semester like a club you never planned to join which suddenly piqued your interest. There may even be some disappointments along the way.

Be flexible with your schedule and be ready to adjust to any situation you may find yourself in when necessary.

Finally, remember to be in the right mindset when you resume. Each semester you complete draws you closer to graduation, so you should be happy to enter a new semester as there are new opportunities and experiences to have.

I hope you found this guide useful and I wish you a happy semester ahead!

Ikwuegbu Ihuoma
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Writer since Dec, 2019 · 23 published articles

A very creative Nigerian Christian teenager who is passionate about content and digital creation. She loves music, playing the piano, chess, puzzles and any other thing that challenges her intellectually. She also loves learning, meeting new people and taking on challenges. Be sure to read her blog!