Starting up school again in January feels very different than it did in August. At the end of the summer I felt refreshed and a little sick of vacation, and I was happily anticipating seeing everyone again. I felt prepared to tackle whatever Duke planned on throwing at me. After winter break, these feelings don’t seem to be quite as strong. Weren’t we just sitting in finals? How have three weeks possibly gone by already? I feel like pleading with Duke not to throw too much at me. I’m not ready yet! But ready or not, school is starting again, and in the next few weeks you’ll fall into a new pattern, as we all do every semester. Starting off with a good pattern right from the start can set you up for success throughout the semester. Here are some tips to start spring semester off on a good foot:
Clean Your Room
It’s likely you have the same room you did last semester, and if you’re anything like me you probably left it a disaster when packing last month. In the relative calm before classes start, or at some point during the first week, do yourself a favor and dedicate half an hour to cleaning. A clean room can make you feel in control and organized, a good starting point for facing a new schedule.
Be Healthy From the Start
Making healthy choices when you first get back can set the tone for your entire semester. If you remember being constantly tired last semester, make it your goal to go to bed earlier this semester. It’s also helpful to schedule in exercise early on, before you get too settled in a routine that doesn’t include working out. The beginning of the semester is also a good time to assess when and what you’re going to eat at school. Think about where you’ll be at the times that you usually eat, and try to plan out some healthy options. I’m not saying to go on a diet, just be reasonable and eat the foods that fuel you through long academic days. Create simple plans that you think you can actually keep up, or you’ll quickly give up and go back to old habits.
Get on Top of Your Classes
One of the best things about a new semester is an academic clean slate. You haven’t left anything to the last minute yet, and you aren’t at all behind. A good way to keep this up is to make schedules. I’ve never been one of those people with intense color-coded, highly detailed schedules, and I probably never will be, but this semester I plan to at least put all my major assignments and activities on a calendar. A calendar helps you visualize when multiple things are due, and it allows you to plan strategically for tough weeks. Getting organized at the beginning is much easier than it is later on, and doing so will help you be successful throughout the semester.