How to Start Your College Semester on the Right Foot

Every college semester brings its own challenges.

For some students, this may be a semester of firsts – First time away from home, family, friends, and a sense of stability.

For others, a new semester means being one step closer to the ultimate college goal: Graduation.

Whatever you find yourself facing this semester, there are some tips you can follow to make sure you start off on the right foot.

How to Start Your College Semester on the Right Foot | College student tips for starting a new semester, including how to get good grades from the start, manage your time wisely, study smarter (not harder) and more! Make sure to repin and refer back to this as the start of each college term.
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Learn to Manage Your Time Quickly

College is one big balancing game. You’ll be doing yourself a BIG favor if you learn how to manage your time wisely right from the start.

Personally, writing things down in my planner (I prefer the Action Day Planner and Bloom Planner) was a huge lifesaver.

Once I wrote down all my big assignments, exam dates, and required readings, I went back through my schedule and made sure to pencil in some study time.

This was an important step for me because I needed that visual reminder that I needed to set aside time to rewrite my notes, brush up on key terms, and memorize whatever information was going to be on my exams.

Another perk of writing study time into my planner is that it showed me that I really did have time for a life outside of school work. Suddenly, I saw openings in my schedule where I only saw daunting reading assignments before.

Talk about a win!

Ways to Better Manage Your Time

You make it sound way easier than it is! (Pssttt… If you really want to get inside my brain and learn how to organize your time like I do, then check out Stress-Free Scheduling! It’s my time management ecourse for college students.)

I know it sounds so much simpler that it seems, but I promise you that you can achieve time management success! Here are some tips that might help you get a better hold of your schedule so that you can enjoy more of your college student perks:

  • Try to set up your schedule so that you have breaks throughout the day, then use those breaks for studying so that you don’t have to worry about filling up your evening with boring school work
  • Start preparing for your exams from day one so that you aren’t cramming for them later
  • Rewrite your notes on paper rather than typing them again – You’ll retain the information better and won’t have to do as much studying in order to memorize the terms or master the concepts
  • Prioritize tasks from most to least important – Tackle the most important first and then work from there
  • Take a short break after you’ve studied for 45 minutes – Your brain will thank you
  • Use your morning routine as a study session – Who says you can’t look over your notes while you’re brushing your teeth, drying your hair, or pampering yourself?

How to Start Your College Semester on the Right Foot | College student tips for starting a new semester, including how to get good grades from the start, manage your time wisely, study smarter (not harder) and more! Make sure to repin and refer back to this as the start of each college term

Get Your Best Grades Possible Right Off the Bat

When I started college I went in with the mindset that if I messed up my first few assignments, then at least I would have the entire rest of the semester to bring my grade up.

Honestly, that is the exact opposite way I should have been thinking.

If you really want to start this college semester off right, then you need to focus on putting your best foot forward right away. That means you need to put in the study hours and learn to prioritize your schedule for success early on so that you don’t have to stress about your grades later on.

Trust me, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you stay focused right from the start!

I have an entire article on Preparing for College Exams and another on My Secrets for Getting A’s in College, so make sure you check those out!

Find at Least One Opportunity Where You Can Get Valuable Work Experience

I remember when I graduated college and applied for my first “big girl” job.

I figured that having a college degree was going to make me stand out from the other applicants. Little did I know that when I landed an interview, all I was going to be asked about was what experience I had in the field.

There were little to no questions about my academic background.

Thankfully, I had gained valuable work experience during my college years and was able to use that to answer the various questions throughout my interview, but I was still a little blindsided by how heavily employers were weighing experience.

I even went back to my house after the interview and looked at the job description to see if experience was mandatory for this particular position. It wasn’t listed as a requirement, but I would have guessed otherwise.

How to Start Your College Semester on the Right Foot | College student tips for starting a new semester, including how to get good grades from the start, manage your time wisely, study smarter (not harder) and more! Make sure to repin and refer back to this as the start of each college term

Why You Need to Get Experience Now

The harsh reality is that most college students will need to have at least some type of relevant work experience to get a solid job after graduation.

Why?

Because employers want to hire someone who knows the field and is comfortable with the work environment it provides.

The last thing they want is to hire someone who ends up hating the job and quits three months later after using up thousands of dollars in new employee training.

To start this college semester right, do yourself a favor and apply to some sort of internship, volunteer opportunity, or part-time job in your field of study so that you get at least some type of insight as to what your job might look like in the future.

For all you know, you may realize that this isn’t the right career path for you. Better to find out now than later!

I know that a lot of students struggle with taking positions that aren’t paid, but imagine being unemployed for six months after graduation with student loan payments calling… I would much rather be the student who had experience and got hired one month after graduation than the one who is unemployed and has bills calling their name!

Have a Positive Outlook From Day 1

It’s amazing how something as simple as a positive outlook can help you start a college semester right.

If you walk into your classes thinking that they’re going to suck, then odds are that they probably will.

This is how I see it: You’re stuck in these classes for the next several weeks and without them, you won’t graduate. Sure, you could sit there and sulk about how bad the class sucks, but that isn’t going to set you up for success. In fact, you might even struggle to memorize any key terms you’ll need to pass the class because of your bad attitude.

Instead of moping around, try telling yourself that you’re capable of mastering this material and see what happens. Maybe you won’t dread the class so much and hopefully good grades will follow as a result.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for your attitude and mindset – It’s up to you whether you choose to think negatively or positively. You might as well stick with the positive thoughts and give yourself the best advantage possible because, let’s face it, college is hard and you need as much support as you can get.

What are your tips for starting a semester right? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

 

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5 Comments

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    Skylar
    October 4, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    This is super helpful! I totally agree with the tip about getting valuable work experience. I am a history major, and I volunteer at a local museum on weekends when I’m not working my part time food industry job. I am looking at turning that into a paid position once summer break rolls around. The only reason I can’t do it now is because the museum hours conflict with my class hours!

    Thanks for the helpful tips,
    Skylar

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      Tori
      October 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Skylar! It sounds like you have a great start with getting experience in your field 🙂

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