Between internships, travel, visiting family, or even just a well-deserved vacation, it can be hard to remember everything that needs to be done during the start of the new semester. After all, there’s bills to be taken care of, packing to start, books to order, and so much more. With so much going on, it’s hard for even the upperclassmen to keep it all straight!
To help every student start the new semester off right, this easy-to-understand guide covers some of the key steps that every student should follow to ensure a stress-free start to your college semester.
1. Know Where Your Classes Are Ahead of Time
College campuses are a new, overwhelming environment to many students. Between confusing directions, weird building layouts, and short travel time, it can be hard to get to your classes, especially during the first week if you’re not exactly sure where you’re going.
To minimize as much stress as possible, print out a campus map ahead of time and mark the buildings where all of your classes will be held.
Even better, take a walk with friends to visit the classrooms a day or two before the semester begins. Not only will you re-connect with your friends after a break, but you will also figure out where the classrooms are and how long it takes to get to them.
2. Pay Your Student Bill/Set Up Your Payment Plan
Financial aid can be confusing to many students, but especially for freshmen. Before heading to campus, here’s a few steps you should follow:
- Accept/decline any awards
- Turn in information about outside awards (such as scholarships)
- Pay your student bill/visit the bursar’s office
- Write down bill deadlines in your planner AND phone calendar (so you’re less likely to miss it)
3. Compare Your Schedule with Friends’ Schedules
One of my favorite parts of the new semester is comparing my schedule with that of my friends’. Comparing overlapping free time in our schedules allow us to plan when we could meet up for lunch, take study breaks in the library, and other times throughout the day for us to hang out.
Free time with friends is extremely important; starting the semester by knowing when you’ll get to hang out with your friends gives you something to look forward to throughout the year.
4. Clean Out Your Backpack/Locker/Dorm Room
An essential to starting the new semester off right is cleaning out your backpack, locker, or dorm room.
This helps ensure that you don’t have any clutter from old classes and that you have all of the necessary supplies for the new semester.
Personally, de-cluttering not only makes me feel less stressed, but also helps me start off the new semester with good habits.
5. Organize Your Thumb Drive
I recommend having a thumb drive specifically dedicated to your college classes to make it easier to create a portfolio of your college work and find assignments throughout the year!
The start of the new semester is a good time to begin organizing your thumb drive and it will save you a lot of time later on in the semester when you’re trying to search for an assignment, especially if you’re presenting something to the class!
6. Read Over Your Syllabus
Some professors will post their syllabus before the first day of class (if so, go ahead and print it out and read over it), while others will wait until the first day. Either way, reading over the syllabuses the first week of class is crucial because it lets you know the class expectations, how assignments and quizzes will be set up, the textbook readings, attendance policies, and more.
When reading over them, highlight key material and make notations of them in the margins so that you don’t forget them, write down any important dates in your planner, and place the syllabus in the front of your binder. You’ll want it in a place that you can easily refer to throughout the semester, so keeping track of it is a must.
7. Organize Your Planner (or Start One)
A good time to organize your planner is at the same time that you’re going over your syllabuses, because you can mark down any class cancellations, test/quiz dates, and homework assignments.
But needless to say, you need some sort of planner in college to keep track of your assignments. You do not want to be that one student who shows up on a day that class is cancelled, or who comes to class unprepared for that major test. So whether it’s a paper planner or just your phone’s calendar, find what works for you and set it up during the first week of class.
8. Exchange Contact Info with New Classmates
No matter how organized you are, there’s going to be at least one occasion in the semester when you’re unsure about an assignment’s due date, need an additional explanation over a lecture, or need to find out whether the professor said they cancelled the next class or next week’s class. (You don’t want to get that mixed up!) That’s why being able to ask your classmates is so important. The first week of class is the best time to exchange contact info with your classmates, so that you won’t forget later on.
9. Rent/Buy Your Textbooks
One of the best pieces of advice you can receive in college is to not buy/rent your textbooks until after syllabus day; this is because you may not need all of the textbooks on the syllabus, the library might have them, or that your professor may show you a resource you can use to get them for free.
In my very first semester of college, I made the mistake of buying all of my textbooks ahead of time, which cost me hundreds of dollars. It turns out that one of the textbooks I bought (which cost $300) was only needed because a website access code on the inside cover, which I could have bought separately for much cheaper. If I had waited to find this out, I could have saved myself a couple hundred dollars!
The start of a new semester can be exciting, but it can also be a stressful and overwhelming experience, especially when there’s so much to do. But by following these tips, you’ll make sure that the start of the new semester is a successful one.
What are your tips for starting the semester off right?