Preparing for a New Semester

For some of us, college and university classes will be starting in a few short weeks and summer will come to an end. This means that for some of us, me included, an intense semester lay ahead. All of a sudden we will be hit with a wall of reading, writing and stress. So now is the time to put on our best Hermione Granger, and start prepping now before our classes begin.

First off, gather everything you’ll need for the upcoming semester. If this will be your first semester at college, you’ll have even more to shop for. Let’s focus on classes though. This means getting all textbooks, software, tech gear, stationary, etc. that you might need for the upcoming semester. Get it sooner rather than later so that you don’t run into low stock or missing items. No one wants to be without all their necessary materials when classes kick off. 

Also make sure to check that your laptop/ tech is up to par for the upcoming semester. If you are in a degree field which will probably require software, look to make sure you have the room or the type of computer capable of running that software. I ran into that problem not long ago where the software I needed couldn’t run on my five year old laptop. This caused a few headaches and stressed out nights trying to figure out what to do, and inevitably put a dent in my pocket I wasn’t prepared for.

Start reviewing your materials. I know, I know, no one wants to do readings or study when they don’t have to. If you’ve been academically stagnant over the summer though I recommend doing this. I plan on doing this as I am in a technical degree field with areas I struggle in. Luckily some of my professors in the upcoming semester have provided a free and non consequential mini review course. I’m not suggesting going all out, but instead what I’ll be doing is getting started on readings and reviewing concepts and formulas so that they don’t surprise me when classes start.

If you have any classes you don’t have a background in, I also suggest familiarizing yourself with these topics. Again, so that these topics don’t take you by surprise. You might also be able to get yourself ahead in some capacity so that you can focus on other classes if need be.

Set your space up before everything kicks off. Whether you are doing remote learning or you’ll be in-person, make sure you have a set space where you can go and get down to work. Having a clean, organized space that you enjoy being in can really set the stage to help you get more work done. This will also help you get organized and prepared for the upcoming semester. Throw out your old scraps, store away those extra textbooks and get things refreshed for a new year.

Cross your t’s and dot your i’s. Make sure all the administrative work is taken care of before it’s too late. Contact your advisors, professors or anyone else you need to if there are loose strings to wrap up. Check up on your finances, make sure your financial aid is taken care of, take care of outstanding debts. Make your lists and check them twice to make sure you won’t get to your first day of classes and realize you forgot to sign paperwork. This happens more often than people realize so make sure to check in on every aspect of your college experience. 

Finally, you’ll want to consider getting back into the work mindset. If you’ve been like me and catching up on missed time with family and loved ones or maybe studying leisurely on the side this summer, now is the time to train your brain to get back into a working frame of mind. I decided to do this as I didn’t want to shock my system with a sudden and rapid start to the semester. This way, I can jump in and just merely switch the work I’m focusing on to school work. This semester I have more classes than ever before and many of them are technical so I’m looking to get myself ready and prepped. Essentially I’ve slowly assigned myself school related things to do and overtime have increased those daily items to fill my day out more.

Overall, I want this to be a good school year and I’m hoping that my work getting myself prepared will help with that. Hopefully this can help you to have a successful and fun semester as well.

Four Big Tips for Students During Quarantine

Many students were recently thrust into online classes due to the pandemic. And as someone who lives with a professor, I can you tell it’s not only disorienting for students, but also for your professors. Everyone’s trying to get their balance during these uncertain times. For some, at the time of this post, your semester is almost over. But for some, summer semester is right around the corner, which for many, will also be online. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered that will be huge for helping you stay centered and focused on your studies during this time.

-Schedule Your time

This is really important. Many of us don’t realize how much our daily routine rules our lives. For myself, without a routine, time slips away from me and I can spend hours on things that I shouldn’t be focused on. Without the regular schedule of getting up and going to work or class, we start to lose that internal clock and external pressure to get things done. Think of setting a schedule as setting meetings or dates with yourself. Obviously, some of you will have live video classes still, but some will have recorded lectures. Make a scheduled time to listen to these, like you would if you were attending an in-person class. Keeping a regular schedule will help you keep on top of all the things you have to do, especially when there isn’t the external pressure pushing you forward anymore. Remember to not be too hard on yourself, but try and keep yourself accountable for your classes and duties.

-Stay In Contact with Your Professors

This is more helpful now than ever. There are fewer opportunities to see your professor and ask questions. Sometimes online classes don’t offer the opportunity to get an immediate answer to your question. Email or schedule a time to video chat with your professor. This can help keep you oriented to the material, even if you can’t see the professor or visit them during regular class/office hours. Often times, the style of a video lecture or recorded lecture doesn’t provide the same context and information as an in-person lecture would, so it’s only going to help for you to shoot off an email to your professor asking any questions you may have. It also shows your interest in the course and materials. Showing interest is especially important for courses that are within your area of study. Taking this time to build a rapport with your professor could lead to a teaching assistant position, research position or letter of recommendation in the future.

-Seek Out Additional Info

Like I said in the previous tip, sometimes online lectures have less context than an in-person lecture. To make up for possible knowledge gaps during this transition process, seek out additional information. Ask your professor for more materials on the current topic, look for literature on the topic, or just do some general googling. Exploring on your own will enhance the material for you, making it easier for you to not only understand but remember. You could also stumble across information or a new topic area that you fall in love with and decide to pursue. There’re all sorts of media out there for whatever topic you are studying right now. Some are more esoteric than others, but with a bit of searching, you’ll be on your way to a better understanding of your study areas.

– To-Do List

Keep a big master list of all the things you need to do. Get your syllabi out or print out your new schedules from your professors and make some lists organized by class or date. Or put them on a calendar where you will see it every day. Put it in your google calendar with alerts. It’s most important now to keep on top of your course work and tests since professors aren’t reminding you in person every other day. By keeping a sorted list that you can visually see and cross off items as they are completed, you’ll be able to keep on top of everything you need to get done. Get creative and organize it by color if that helps you better visualize. Or post it next to your bed so you see it every morning and night. The main thing to remember about this tip, is being able to visualize or visually see what needs to be done and what has been done, as well as their due dates.

I hope you found these tips helpful and inspire you to think of more ways to stay on top of your studies. You can also transfer these tips to any online gigs you might have at the moment as well. Let me know below if you have any other tips or tricks that have been helping you stay productive and sane during this time.

Stay healthy and stay safe.