One of the most essential skills to learn in college is how to start a semester strong.
As summer draws to a close, now is the perfect time to begin preparing for the new academic year with strategies to help you stay focused, healthy, and safe during the upcoming semester.
Returning to the classroom after a break, no matter how long, can be difficult. So we have put together some of our best tips to help you ease into your college semester and start on the right foot.
Tips for Starting a New Semester
Starting a new semester after a break can be daunting, especially when you don’t have a game plan in place.
Here are some tips to help you feel more confident about starting or going back to college:
Study early during the summer break and take notes
The best way to start a college semester is to begin preparing and studying early. Once you have your textbooks, you can start reading your books even before classes begin. Look at the subjects you will be studying and find out about your assessments and due dates, then mark them on your calendar before the semester starts. That way, when you get back to school, you will be ahead of the game, and it will be easier to stay on track and not fall behind even when things become hectic.
Always stay organized and track all your deadlines
Once the semester starts, keep all of your notes organized and accessible. For example, use sticky notes to mark pages in textbooks, binders, or notebooks. Or, use a simple spreadsheet to track deadlines and due dates. You don’t want to find out too late or the night before an assessment is due. So stay organized and start your assignments as early as possible.
Familiarize yourself with your class schedule and where your classes are
Before classes begin, ensure you’ve enrolled in the subjects correctly and check the day your classes start and the location of each one. You don’t want to miss any classes, turn up to the wrong course, or get there late because you couldn’t find the lecture hall!
Don't procrastinate or leave things too late
Procrastination will harm your grades, especially if it becomes a habit. So make sure it doesn’t become one. Unfortunately, although it is a common problem among college students, it can negatively impact their academic performance. To avoid procrastination, break large tasks into smaller ones. For example, instead of spending hours trying to finish a term paper, divide it into manageable sections. Leaving term papers and exam preparation till the last minute means you won’t be able to produce your best work or perform optimally, which will be reflected in your grades.
Reward yourself when you do well in your courses
Whenever you meet a deadline or do well on an assignment, reward yourself for your efforts. Incentivizing hard work and studying will motivate you even when you don’t feel like doing the work. It also means you will have earned your rewards through effort! Buy yourself something you’ve wanted for a while, enjoy a nice meal out, or spoil yourself with a pamper session. Whatever it is, by rewarding yourself at the moment, your brain will elicit positive emotions, helping you realize that your study-related efforts have been rewarded. By doing this repeatedly, your brain begins associating pleasure with completing the task or objective and will gravitate toward it in the future.
Make sure you have your books
You’ll want to ensure you have all your books ready before the semester starts.
But whether you're going to community college, a four-year university, or someplace else entirely, you'll probably spend hundreds of dollars buying textbooks.
If you're in the market for textbooks, you know they're not cheap!
If possible, look for discounts or cheaper marketplaces to purchase them. Because textbook prices have risen rapidly in recent years, buying used textbooks has become a viable option for many students. It's a fantastic idea, especially if you can find ones in good condition!
Some sites make it easy to sell or trade in your old textbooks, and you can often find books for well below retail price.
Check out some of these cheap alternatives:
Health Tips for Starting Your College Semester
College can be an excellent place to build and practice healthier lifestyle habits. A healthy body and mind will help you perform better academically and improve your mental health.
Follow these tips to keep you feeling good, both physically and mentally, fit, and stress-free throughout the semester:
Eat healthy food
A healthy diet is fundamentally important for any college student. But some students are often discouraged by healthy eating because healthy food appears boring. However, eating healthy foods doesn't mean you have to eat bland foods all day. You can prepare meals at home and make delicious and nutritious meals that will nourish you and give you the much-needed energy to study and stay healthy. You should try to avoid fast food restaurants and ordering in whenever possible. Junk food tends to be high in calories and low in nutritional value, which will make you feel lethargic and make it harder to focus on your studies. If you want to eat out, instead go out to local eateries that provide healthier options. Another piece of advice is to choose healthy snacks, and only infrequently choosing less nutritious options. Small dietary choices can make a big difference.
Make sure you’re always well hydrated. Drinking water will improve your energy and help flush toxins from your body. So drink plenty of water during the day. Keeping a reusable water bottle in your room and refilling it throughout the day will help you avoid being tempted by less healthy drinks like soda.
Cut back on caffeine if possible
While caffeine can increase short-term alertness and is a popular choice among college students, it isn't always the best option for everyone, especially if it causes insomnia, irritability, or nervousness. If you’re one of those students, cut back on caffeinated drinks and find other ways to help improve your short-term alertness, like exercise.
Exercise not only improves overall fitness and boosts energy levels, but also reduces stress and anxiety while improving memory! All of this will make studying easier. So if enrolling in your college or local gym is an option, seriously consider it. Otherwise, there are many ways to stay fit. You can join a college sport, walk on campus, or even watch home workout videos and do them in your dorm.
Find Activities & Clubs That You Want To Get Involved With
College life is about finding fun activities and clubs that interest you. They’re also an excellent avenue for meeting friends. Whether you're interested in sports, art, music, volunteering, or anything else, there's something out there for everyone and so many different things to choose from!
Here are some ideas to help you find activities and clubs at college:
Attend the beginning of the semester events to learn about different clubs
The beginning of semester events can be a great way to meet like-minded students by joining clubs and organizations. Joining a club or even a debate team are both great ways to learn new skills. You’ll find plenty of clubs and organizations at college that cater to specific interests and hobbies. For instance, there might be a club devoted to cooking, one to photography, and another for aspiring writers. They are usually fun to participate in and can help make your college experience much more enriching.
Start your own club
If you want to join a club in college for a particular hobby that doesn’t exist, you can always start your own! Just make sure that it's something that you really care about and commit to running. If you're passionate about something, chances are that you'll find plenty of people who share your passion and who will want to join you.
Volunteering is another great way to meet new people and give back to your community. Not only that, but it can be immensely rewarding to do volunteer work and will also look great on your resume once you are looking for jobs. There are many incentives to volunteer, and signing up is usually straightforward. Many universities have volunteer centers that allow students to sign up for various projects throughout the semester. If your college doesn’t have a volunteer center, ask student services if there are any volunteering programs you can join on campus. They’re always looking for students to help with on-campus and off-campus programs!
Get To Know Your Roommates
Whether you're moving away from home for the first time or returning to college for the new semester, dorm sharing in college is a big transition for everyone, and meeting new roommates can be exciting but also daunting at the same time. Will you get along? Are you compatible with living conditions? Will you like each other? These are all valid questions that might be going through your head.
That said, getting to know your roommates with ice-breaking questions is a great way to ensure you start things on a positive note. Icebreaker questions will help you understand more about your roommates, and they will learn more about you, helping you create a bond quickly. And who knows, maybe your roommates will end up becoming lifelong friends!
Here are some icebreaker questions you can ask when getting to know your roommate(s):
- If they could live anywhere in the world, where would they live?
- What is the furthest they’ve been from their home?
- What is their fondest childhood memory?
- What is their biggest pet peeve?
- Do they have any allergies?
- What are their friends like?
If you're looking for student accommodation and want to start living in a clean and neat space, American Avenue is a great choice. Located on the northeast side of campus, you'll love our Rexburg student apartments. Next to campus but also close to downtown, our student accommodation is the perfect place to make your college home! We offer BYU-I-approved housing with several floor plan options.
Get in contact or call us today for more information!