As a new semester begins, most students are overcome with a few common emotions: anxiety, nervousness, and overall dread for the classes they are now beginning.
Winter break is officially over, and although we are supposed to have all of the laziness out of our systems, it is hard to find the motivation to fall back into the swing of things, especially with the groggy, cold weather still among us. As you look over your new syllabi, you become overwhelmed by the vast amount of work you are expected to complete in the next four months and your professors might seem intimidating, to say the least. In the blink of an eye, that daunting, stressed-out feeling that disappeared for the last month is back and stronger than ever. Here is a checklist of what you should have done with the semester and what you should continue to do for semesters ahead.
First and foremost, get your books as soon as possible! Speaking from experience, there is nothing more irritating than being given assignments and not having the ability to complete them because your book is on back order. It also would be a good idea to pick up some new school supplies (folders, pencils, notebooks, notecards, etc.). Keeping things clean and organized will help for a much smoother ride as well. It’s well advised to order your books for next semester before break even starts.
Look back at your grades from the fall, and figure out the areas you struggled in (i.e. study skills, procrastination, writing papers, etc.) and try to work on the areas you need assistance in. For example, some students have trouble studying for tests, so try going upstairs in Bierce Library and sitting in a quiet cubicle alone. While this may sound like solitary confinement, having nothing but your books and notes to focus on works very well for many students and results in higher test scores.
Make a financial budget for yourself. In addition to your academic worries, if you are working to pay rent, it is easy to stress yourself out over money. By making a weekly budget, it will take some of the pressure off because it makes you aware of your limits.
Make a calendar to keep track of your daily tasks on and off campus. If you are involved in activities, organizations, and working on top of your school load, you can become easily frazzled (CalenMob by Google is a great app for this). Managing your time is a piece of advice that you should keep with you not just in your college career, but once you enter the professional world.
Go work out at the Rec Center and try some healthier alternatives instead of French fries. Make your latte a skinny one and as torturous as it sounds, say no to the whipped cream! When you feel better physically, it will reflect in your academic success too.
Take advantage of the free services the university offers. You can get your computer checked and/or fixed at the Computer Repair Center for free. If you get a sense that a class might be difficult, get help from a tutor from the start. There are also the Math and Writing Labs that will offer assistance, and you can get a physical check-up at the Rec Center at no cost. The Career Center can help you with something as complex as finding an internship or job to something as basic as resume writing.
Lastly, and this cannot be stressed enough, join a student organization! Especially if you are a commuter, you can find yourself coming to campus just for classes and leaving immediately after. It is crucial that we begin networking now and spending time with other students that share our common interests and career paths. By doing this, it will help us to prosper not just in college, but after graduation as well.
Your college education is truly what you make of it. With having a part-time or full-time job, being involved in activities, dating and just wanting to enjoy ourselves, school can be extremely overwhelming at times. By turning these tips into actions, you will find that this spring semester does not have to be as intimidating as it seems and you can still have a lot of fun. I wish you all the best of luck in your classes this semester, and remember to approach everything with an open mind and take a deep breath.
Now, let the madness begin.