On Preparing for a Productive Semester

By now, most college students are settled back into the rhythm of school or preparing to start the semester. Personally, the spring semester is always better than the fall. Though it starts cold, the weather at the end somehow makes it seem better. But, school is school, and in a few weeks we will be complaining about professors, assignments and exams. In my 3 1/2 years at UVA, I’ve learned that the least stressful semesters are determined by how you start. Gaining momentum in the beginning is essential because, regardless of if you run out of steam, the lead you create will set you up for definite success in the end.

Here are some tips to start the semester right!


I. Organization is KEY: Mapping out what the semester will look like is the first step. Whether you use a planner or an online calendar, map out all of the dates for major assignments and exams. This way you will know what to expect, and if you forget to consult the syllabus, the assignments you have will already be laid out for you. I use different colored highlighters to distinguish between academic assignments, my work schedule or social engagements. I put in all the assignments for the semester so that I don't forget. Be sure to thoroughly read through your syllabi and get any books needed. (For my guide on not paying for books, click here.)

II. Learn to Practice Self-Discipline: Once you have everything organized, putting yourself to work is next. Creating a schedule and pattern for getting work done is how you get ahead of assignments and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Figure out when you are going to get all of your work done. I usually do my work on the weekends so that all week I don't have to rush to do readings. This will be difficult at first, but you will thank yourself later. 

III. All Work and No Play Is No Good: I hate a chiché but this is a fact. As you fill in your semester academic calendar, sprinkle in some social events. This could be catching a movie, going out to dinner with friends or taking a small trip out of town. Being around friends is not only fun but also reminds you that you are not alone and have support. This can be a huge stress-reliever. 

IV. Self-Care! Self-Care! Self-Care!: Remember to take appropriate breaks. Being in school, having a job, and maintaining a social life can be exhausting. Be sure to take the time to take care of yourself and make self-care a priority over the semester. 


What are some ways that you prepare for the semester? Comment below!