11 Ways to Get Ready for Fall Semester

You’re sitting on the beach, the ocean breeze is flowing through your hair and you have your favorite fashion mag. There’s no stress about deadlines or textbooks or midterms—life is blissful. It’s pretty hard to think about going back to school at a time like this, huh? In fact, it might be near impossible. But alas, we collegiettes need to face the music that we’ll be moving back to school pretty soon. Even though we wish we could spend a few extra weeks sleeping in, Her Campus has the best back-to-college prep guide to ease you into the transition!                                                          

1. Contact your roomies


If you’re living with roommates next year, this one’s kind of a necessity. Start a roommate group text or Facebook message to figure out who’s bringing a microwave, who’s got the cleaning supplies and who’s bringing the room décor!

You want to make sure you and your roommates are all contributing equally to the room—one person should not be bringing all of the room necessities. Check in with your roommates to see who already has what, and then divide the rest of the needed supplies among everyone.

That’s what Nicole, a senior at Assumption College, is doing with her roommates. “I'm having roommates for the first time since freshman year because of being an RA, so I need to know what everyone already has and what I should contribute to the room,” she says. Seeing your dorm room come together is a great way to get excited for your new home!

Besides discussing room necessities, it’s important to catch up with your roomies after a whole summer away from each other. Talk about jobs, summer flings and everyone’s craziest nights with their pals from home! Getting up-to-date on your roommates’ lives will get you even more excited to move in with them and ready to start the year off right.

If this is your first time meeting your roommate, try getting to know her! Talking to your new roomie a little bit during the summer is a great way to have something to chat about on move-in day and definitely makes things a little bit less awkward.

2. Buy your books

Buying your books can be depressing for two reasons:

  1. We’re super poor, and textbooks are super expensive.
  2. It means goodbye beach days, hello library days.

Here at HC, we put a positive spin on those two bummers. First, we buy our books discounted. Try getting your books from places like Amazon, Half.com or even the rental/used section of your school’s bookstore.

“I take a lot of literature classes, so I can find my books for super cheap on Amazon,” says Kelsey, a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “I’ve gotten a class’s worth of books for less than $10 before, and it’s made me so excited to get back to school because I’ve felt like such a baller for managing to do that.”

After you buy your discounted textbooks, get pumped to read them by remembering that these aren’t just some boring high school classes you’re being forced to take—these are mostly courses in your majors! Get excited to delve deeper into a subject that you’re passionate about.

“I actually love ordering my books,” says Chelsea, a sophomore at Salem State University. “If they’re in my major, I know I’ll think they’re interesting, and even if they’re part of the college’s core curriculum, I always try to give reading the books a chance because I know there’s a reason that the school is making every student take this course.”

And if you’re still bummed about the arrival of your newly purchased schoolbooks, just remember: When you’re actually reading them, it’ll probably be too cold to go to the beach anyway.

3. Check out class syllabi


So maybe checking out your professor’s syllabus isn’t the most exciting part of getting ready to go back to school. That’s what syllabus week is for, right? Wrong.

“I will always check for syllabi… before school starts,” says Emily, a junior at the University of New Hampshire. “I’m a fall athlete, so I like to see what are going to be heavy weeks for me and what will be light weeks. That way, I can start planning when I’ll get ahead on assignments and things like that.”

Checking out syllabi is also a great way to see if a course is a good fit for you. Maybe you were looking for a professor who weighed participation more or a class that had more exams than papers. Knowing these things in advance will help you figure out if you should drop a course and add a different one.

Accessing syllabi can be tricky if you’re a first-year student. Find out if your school uses course websites (consulting a school’s website or an academic adviser is a great way to find this out); if they do, look for your courses to be posted to the website, and then start hunting for your syllabi!

If your school doesn’t use course websites (or your courses aren’t posted yet), you can email your professors directly and ask them if they have completed their syllabi yet. Don’t be nervous to do this! Professors tend to like proactive students.

4. Go back-to-school clothes shopping


And now for the fun part! Any excuse is a good excuse to go shopping, and getting clothes to bring the runway to your campus is the best excuse of them all. New clothes = new woman.

“I may not always be the biggest fan of shopping, but I love updating my outfits and my accessories,” says Shira, a senior at Franklin & Marshall College. Even for collegiettes who hate shopping, there’s something refreshing about getting some new clothes, a new look and a new you!

Whether it’s a once-in-a-while perk or feeding an addiction, going shopping is certainly a great way to get on board with the whole back-to-school thing.

5. Get organized


What good is everything you pack if you have nowhere to put it when you move in?

That’s what Iris, a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles, thinks when she gets organized for back to school!

“I live in France, so I have to make sure I'm well organized before I go back to school,” she says.  “I have to make sure I have all the storage I need—shoe storage, under-bed boxes, hangers, stationery dividers, magazine racks, etc. It's kind of stressful, but much less so than getting back to school and having nowhere to put things away!”

Think about all of the things you’ll be moving into your new dorm and the best ways for you to store them. In most cases, this means bins to go under your bed, plenty of hangers and a place to hang things like towels and keys on your wall.

Finding a place for everything in your room not only kick-starts your semester the right way, but gets you excited for how your room will look! You can buy containers in every color of the rainbow and desk supplies in cute patterns. Staples is always a great place for fun and creative desk supplies, and The Container Store has awesome storage bins of every size and in every color. Getting pretty organization tools is the perfect way to get excited about moving your stuff from your house to your dorm.

6. Mark your calendar


With football games, your club meetings and getting to classes, it’s going to be hard to keep all of your commitments straight. Kick the semester off right by filling out your calendar with all of your most important things to do!

Nothing gets us more excited than seeing everything that we’re going to accomplish this year and what we have to look forward to—everything from homecoming to sorority rush —on paper. Filling out your calendar will get you so amped for the year ahead.

Shira also loves planning nights on the town with her friends. “I start checking out events that are happening and start planning things with my friends that we want to go to or do together,” she says. “We definitely feel ready to get back to school and see each other.”

While we love living in the moment, sometimes having something to look forward to is the best way to get excited to head back to a classes-every-day lifestyle.

7. DIY room décor


Who doesn’t love a good craft? It was our favorite part of kindergarten and is also an important part of moving back into our dorms. Whether we’re designing a wall monogram to go above our beds or some rad picture frames, channeling our inner Martha Stewarts is always a safe bet to pump us up for back to school.

Jenny, a senior at Assumption College, is a master of arts and crafts. “Crafting and Pinterest-ing helps make [moving in] real,” she says. “Planning out my apartment that I’ll be spending the next year in is really exciting and definitely gets me pumped for a year with my best friends.”

We suggest deciding on a room color scheme with your roommates and then letting the crafts flow from there. Try one of these DIY dorm decorations  to get started! Whatever it is you decide to craft, you’ll get excited to hang it up in your new dorm or apartment to give it a warm, homey feel.

8. Get back on a schedule


Summer is the ultimate time for relaxation and sleeping in—ah, the joys of having no set schedule. To ease your way back into school, though, you’ll need to nix that lifestyle.

“I usually start setting my alarm for the time of my earliest class about a week or two before move-in,” says Rachel, a junior at the University of Connecticut. “I need to take a little bit to make my body go back from being pretty much nocturnal during the summer to functional during the day.”

Although the lure of the snooze button will be all too enticing, try to start getting up earlier during the week. You’ll thank yourself when you’re able to be up and ready for your 8 a.m. biology class this semester.

9. Pamper yourself


Who doesn’t love getting her hair and nails done? We sure do, which is why we always pamper ourselves before heading back to school.

“I almost always get a haircut before moving back to school each semester, even if it's just a trim,” Nicole says. “There's something about a new look that helps with a fresh start of a semester.”

Just like your new back-to-school clothes, a new ‘do will help you feel like a new woman who can accomplish anything this semester.

“I always try to get everything done—hair, nails, brows—before going back to school,” Rachel says. “But if I can only do one, my eyebrows are absolute priority. I refuse to see anyone other than the girl who does mine at home, so I need to make sure it’s all fresh and good to go before heading back to school.”

Whether you’re fulfilling a new-year-new-woman mentality or simply making sure you’re groomed by the right person, pampering yourself before a new school year is a great way to make yourself feel beautiful and ready to go.

10. Prepare a budget


For us poor college students, back to school is the perfect time to take a look at our money and figure out how it’s going to last.

“I usually look at things that I have to pay for, like club dues or a parking permit—things that I already know the amount for—and subtract them from my bank account,” Rachel says. “Then I think about how much money I need to have saved at all times and subtract that. That way I can see how much money I’m working with for groceries or other fun things.”

Budgeting can be as simple as being aware of how much money you have to spend on fun things like Rachel does or as detailed as coming up with an exact plan for where and when you’ll spend your money (like only letting yourself spend $15 on coffee a month).

Building a budget is the perfect way to get ready to head back to school because it alleviates all kinds of stress. With a well-balanced budget, you will have monetary security and the satisfaction that you’re saving money like a true adult. Late credit-card payments? Forget about those.

11. Set some goals


Going along with the new-woman-new-semester theme (see numbers four and nine on this list), heading back to school is a great time to set some goals and to really reflect on the new woman that your new wardrobe and your new haircut make.

Follow the SMART goal format— make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. For specificity, for example, you need to make sure your goal isn’t something vague, like, “do better in school”; instead, pick the grades that you want to receive in your classes. Be realistic about this so it’s still attainable (if you aren’t a math whiz and you’re taking the hardest math class available, maybe expecting straight As isn’t the best idea). Grades are also, of course, relevant to going back to school, and are something you need to accomplish in a certain amount of time (i.e., one semester).

Grades aren’t the only thing you can make goals about, though. Do you want to get in better shape? Make a plan to go to the gym a certain amount of times a week. Do you want to land an awesome internship for the next semester? Create some steps to make your resume perfect, to craft an awesome cover letter and to polish your interview skills. At the start of a new semester, anything is possible.


So, collegiettes, here’s to a great back-to-school season and an even better school year! Have a favorite back-to-school ritual? Let us know in the comments below!