Whether you’re headed into your last year of grad school or your very first semester of university, it’s always important to use the first few weeks to get all your ducks in a row. If you put a little extra effort in at the beginning, we promise you’ll love yourself at the end. Here are some of our tips for setting yourself up for a semester of success.
1. Get organized
Keep in mind that almost everything you receive or work on throughout the semester will probably be useful in the future. In grad school, your assignments might eventually end up on your resume or portfolio. In college, professors may ask you to hold onto your work to turn in at the end. Make sure you’ve prepared a space to keep your syllabi and various assignments for each course. You can do this by storing important items in special files on your desktop or buying organizational tools like folders and assignment calendars.
But getting organized doesn’t end with binders with tab dividers — even taking time to organize your living and study space will give you the peace of mind to focus on more pressing issues that come up (like that thesis paper).
2. Take advantage of resources
This means not scrolling past the greeting emails you get from advisors and professors. Think about it — this is one of the few opportunities you’ll have in life to be surrounded by so many bright and well-connected people in your field. And the best part, they are there to help you. Grad students, your professors could have the mentorship and professional network you need to advance your career. College students, your advisors and professors can write you awesome letters of recommendation and even help you land crucial undergrad internships. Go out of your way to introduce yourself during office hours and begin cultivating those lasting relationships now.
3. Prepare to be busy
As the long break comes to a close, it’s time to switch up your mindset. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as you start scanning your syllabi, so before you even sit down in your first class prepare yourself mentally for the days of work to come. Once you’re in school, lay out the coming weeks in front of you on a calendar and write down all the work you’ll be doing. Visualizing the work in digestible chunks might make it all seem less daunting.
4. Hit the books early
All-nighters at the end of the semester are no fun. If you want to avoid those long, coffee-fueled, eye-straining nights in the library, stay on top of your studies. This doesn’t mean you have to live under a rock with your books; it only means that you should be intentional about how you spend your time. Set aside a few hours a day to do your assigned reading or writing projects. Make it part of your daily routine so it becomes a habit. You can even make it a group activity by inviting some friends to study with you. Time management = less last-minute cramming for exams.
5. Attend one event you wouldn’t normally go to
This is just one of many ways you can take initiative during the first few weeks of school. Even if it’s your last year in college or grad school, there are people you haven’t met and activities you haven’t done. Make a goal for yourself to attend one school-sponsored event — a lecture, a concert, or a student group meeting — and benefit from de-stressing and meeting like-minded people.