You have no doubt heard the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that is because it is so true.
As your long break off from school comes near its end, putting some thought and time into getting ready for next semester can make your life easier when things get busy. Use these tips as a checklist to get ahead of the college game so that your transition back into classes and studying goes smoother.
Schedule Car Maintenance
If you have a car that you use at college, now is a great time to get anything fixed that needs attention. Even if you think all is well, it is worth it to have a trusted mechanic check it over before heading back to school.
Knowing that you will be able to get to class and work without any transportation issues will reduce your stress all semester and ensure that you do not miss out on anything important.
Invest In A Planner
Maybe you used a planner last semester, but it did not quite work for you. Many students use their planner faithfully the first couple of weeks of a new semester, but then slowly get out of the habit. Not all planners work for everyone. Take some time to look at various academic planner features to decide which one will work best for you.
If you prefer a digital calendar, explore the various options available before classes begin. Staying organized makes life easier to handle, especially when life gets super busy.
Print Your Syllabi
If your university has all professors put their syllabi online before the semester begins, print them out now and read over each to help you mentally prepare for what is coming in each class. Do not be afraid to highlight and make notes of anything you need clarification on.
When you show up for class that first day, you can ask any questions you have so that you are clear on all assignments for each class.
Build a Schedule
Even if you do not have access to your class syllabi, you can still make a master schedule for each week in your online calendar or print planner.
Add in your class times, work schedule and any other meetings that you may have. Then, schedule study times between classes and work. Having specific times scheduled for studying will help make sure that study time actually happens.
Plan A Budget
One of the biggest stresses people have is money. Even if your academics are going smoothly, if your bank account is empty because you blew through all of your financial aid refund check in the first month of classes, you are going to have a difficult time focusing on your studies.
There are lots of free apps available that students can use to keep track of their spending. Knowing ahead of time how much disposable cash you have available each month once bills are paid makes life more enjoyable and less stressful.
Go ahead and get the textbooks you will need for the semester so that you do not have to deal with the crowds the first week of classes. Often, professors assign reading the first day of class, and if you do not have your book, you will be behind the first week of classes! Talk about stress!
Also, if you are able to access your syllabi, you can actually get ahead on reading for each class. That will give you some breathing room to get back in the swing of things once you are back on campus.
Before the semester begins, hit the grocery and department store to stock up on food and personal care items you will need.
If you get extras of everything, you can save time and stress later in the semester when you can keep studying, instead of having to run out to the store to get toothpaste. Do not forget to stock up on non-perishable, healthy snacks that will give you energy when the semester heats up.
If you have heard of some educational apps or programs that you would like to try out, do not wait to download them and give them a test run.
That way, when you need to use them, you will not feel like you cannot take the time to learn how to use them. There is usually a learning curve with each new app, so getting familiar with them now puts you ahead of the game.
If you are taking online classes, take this time to log on and maneuver through them. This is especially helpful if you have never taken a class on the online platform. Learn where everything is in the class, figure out how you submit assignments, etc.
Then, once the semester starts, you will have that learning curve already over with.
Update Dining Plan
Some colleges have students sign up each semester for their dining plan. Or they offer students the one-time option between semesters to change their plan.
If you found that you had too many meals or not enough last semester, make sure you make the change during the appropriate dates allowed.
If you are lucky, you got lots of gifts over the holidays that you will no doubt want to take back to school with you. Start making a pile or list of items you want to take back. Do not forget to take back items that you wish you would have had last semester.
Remember to take winter boots, coat, gloves, etc. if you attend a university in a cold climate. Planning ahead will make it less likely that you will forget something important during the inevitable rush to get back to school.
It is a real challenge to keep everything organized that you need in a small space like a dorm room. Take some time to think about how you could reorganize your stuff to make life a little easier this semester. What were you constantly losing last year?
What can be moved to the back of the closet? What do you need to have handy all the time? Perusing Pinterest is a fun way to get ideas for inexpensive ways to organize small spaces.
Computer Cleaned Up
Now is the perfect time to take your computer in for a tune-up to ensure it will be ready to work hard all semester long. Several big box computer and office supply stores offer free tune-ups for computers. Take advantage of these to save yourself stress later.
Make sure to do this early enough that if they recommend some work on it, you will have time to get it taken care of before the semester begins. This is also a great time to clean up and organize your computer files. Make an online folder for each class and delete all old files that you no longer need.
Set Up Your Computer Lab Account
Even though hopefully getting your computer tuned up before the semester makes it so you do not have an issue, having a plan B is vital to a less stressful, more successful semester.
Head over to the closest computer lab on campus and set up your account and log-in information the first couple of days after you arrive on campus. That way, if you do have a computer or printer issue, you can still get your essay turned in on time.
Visit The Library/Tutoring Lab
If your grades weren’t as stellar as you had hoped last semester, what can you do this semester to change that? It can be intimidating to ask for help, so visit the resources that you wish you had last time around. Visit the 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.
Learn New Strategies
You may have learned the hard way that note-taking and studying in college require different techniques than the ones you used in high school. There are actually a variety of techniques for these skills. Learn about a few of them that sound logical to you.
Give them a try until you find the best ones and then use them; try different ones until you get the right combination. Not everyone learns or remembers in the same way, so do not be afraid to try different things and use what works for you.
Although you probably want to stay at home for as long as possible, plan on getting back to campus a little early. This extra time before classes start will give you a chance to clean up your space, whether a dorm room or an apartment, get rid of clutter that built up over last semester and get everything organized so you are ready for classes to start.
Knowing that you are prepared for the semester will give you peace of mind that nothing else can match. While de-cluttering, put aside items that you did not use much, if at all, last semester. Put them in a box at the back of your closet or way under your bed to get them out of your way.
Then, the next time you go home for a visit, take them home. This will give you more space and will make move out easier.