So you started out excited about a new college semester, but your grades were less than impressive. Take heart! A new year means a new semester when you get a fresh start on being the successful college student you know you can be.
If you have regrets about last semester, now is your chance to do things differently. Use these action steps to take control of your semester.
Take time to reflect-on what worked and what didn’t last semester. Remember, it does not matter if it worked for everyone else you know…if it did not work for you, make a change. Did you need to study more? Did you have trouble focusing with that study group?
Were you constantly searching for important items in your room? All of these things can work better this semester!
Make a list of things that you want to continue to do this semester and add to it things you know you want to do differently. Once you have the list, go about finding new ways of working. There are a lot of great online resources (like this one) that can help you make this semester one to be proud of. Use the tips you find to build a solid plan for making positive changes.
Use A Planner
Whether you prefer using an app or a paper planner, keeping a calendar can ensure that you don’t forget to complete assignments and will give you a head’s up when you need to start studying for an exam. Just having all of your responsibilities laid out in front of you builds your confidence and lowers stress.
Build A Study Schedule
so that you have a plan in place before the semester really heats up. Most students need to start studying earlier than they do to really learn the material well enough to recall it on an exam. This is also true for college essays-if you didn’t do well on your papers last semester, you probably didn’t allow enough time to revise so that you could submit your best work. Plan out chunks of time in your weekly schedule so that you can study and write over a few days for maximum benefit.
Attend Class – Don’t Skip
Even when you don’t want to. This is one of the biggest downfalls of the average student. There is no substitute for participating in the class discussions or hearing the examples the professor gives during lecture.
Many universities and professors have limitations on how many classes you can miss before your grade begins to suffer, not to mention the possible participation points you will lose out on just by avoiding class. Skipping class is just throwing points away, so make it a priority to attend every class.
Create a Master Plan
The first week of class, so that all assignment and exam dates are in your calendar or planner. This makes it easier to see all required work in relation to all the work due in all of your classes.
If you have a paper due the same day as a big exam, you will recognize that ahead of time and be able to schedule study time earlier so as to get prepared.
Get Your Books Early
Since college moves at the speed of light, make sure you have your books the first week of classes. Professors often assign reading that first week of class, so if you do not have your books ready, you can get behind early in the game.
And once you are behind, it is really difficult to get caught back up. Be prepared to start reading for the second course meeting in each of your classes.
Re-Think Your Study Spot
To determine if it worked well for you. As creatures of habit, we love to have a specific spot for our activities. Where did you study last semester? Where you constantly distracted there? Where you always running into people you know who wanted to chat?
If you feel like you spent a great deal of time in your study spot but didn’t get much accomplished, it’s time to find a new location this semester. Try the archives floor of the college library. How about an out-of-the-way café that students don’t frequent? Or, how about staying in your room more often? Finding a consistent place where you can really focus will go a long way towards making you more successful this semester.
Visit The Library/Tutoring Lab-To Get Help Early
It can be intimidating to ask for help, so visit the resources that you wish you had last time around before you need them. Visit free resources such as the college tutoring and writing lab. Talk to someone there to find out their hours and how their system works.
Visit the library and introduce yourself to the librarian for your major. These are the folks who you can meet with when you need research assistance later in the semester. Having broken the ice when you weren’t worried and stressed will make it much easier to go get help there later if you need it.
Note Taking and Study Strategy
Most likely, if you didn’t make the grades you wanted to last semester, you could benefit from a second look at the way you take notes and study. Many students who didn’t need to take many notes or study in high school are totally surprised that college is not like that.
Try different note-taking and study apps to find the ones that work with your learning style. You may even find that taking a study skills class is a good way to learn better techniques and habits.
Lower Credit Hours
Especially if you have a class that you may be a challenge for you. Don’t let your peers, parents or advisor pressure you into taking on more than you know you can handle.
Some people can take 18 credit hours, work 20 hours a week and ace every class-some cannot. It’s more important to do well and enjoy your college experience than needing to stay an additional semester to finish up classes. High stress.
Join Study Groups
As studies have shown that we learn best from our peers. Pooling our knowledge is a great way to learn, and there is the additional advantage of having a support system in place if you are having trouble understanding concepts.
Finally, teaching others is one of the best ways of learning deeper yourself. Study groups are an all-around great way to learn.
Visit Professor Office Hours
Before you are totally lost. Unfortunately, most students never visit their professor, even when they know they need help. Or they wait until the end of the semester when it is too late to get the help they need. Be proactive.
Visit each of your professors during the first couple of weeks of classes, even if you don’t have questions. Just introduce yourself and get to know each other. Then, if you do need to get some guidance from them later in the semester, you will be more comfortable doing so.
Take Care Of Yourself
Even when you get busy. The accumulation of stress, junk food and sleep deprivation keeps your brains from functioning at full capacity. It is just plain hard to focus when you aren’t giving your body what it needs to serve you.
Staying active, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep also keeps your immune system working for you so that you are less apt to get sick when you most need to be healthy.
Even if you may think that you studied a lot last semester, a lot of students are often more distracted during that “study time” than they realize. Turn off your phone, log out of the Internet and work someplace quiet where you won’t be constantly interrupted.
If you have a bunch of noisy roommates, go the library to study. If the café you like to frequent is a place where you run into everyone you know, find another one where you can be anonymous. Doing this will help you truly study during the times you have set aside for that activity. Then, when you are finished, you will be able to enjoy time with friends without worrying about how your work will get done.
Even if you think you can’t afford to. There are different ways to pay for school than working, and if you are dead on your feet from working whenever you are not in class, your grades are bound to suffer.
Learn about scholarships or find out if your parents can help out more with the cost of school. And don’t forget to take a look at how you are spending your money. Cutting out some of the excess purchases can lower your outgoing income enough to make it possible for you to work less and focus more on your learning.
Yes, there is such a thing. Even though you are there to get an education, taking breaks and enjoying friends is an important part of the whole college experience. Your brain needs rest and relaxation, just like your body, so make sure that you schedule social time in your week also.