7 Tips to Start the Semester Off Right

Returning to campus after a long break can be daunting with all new classes, professors, assignments and stressors to tackle. The following are seven steps to take in order to have a (hopefully) less stressful first week that sets the standard for the rest of the semester.

  1. 1. Create Your Schedule

    With all the new classes you will have to navigate this semester, it can be a bit daunting. All of a sudden, you might have to figure out a new time or place to eat lunch or have to figure out when to set aside time for all of those online classes you decided to take. Personally, I enjoy taking the time to make a schedule on paper that I can place on my desk. This can be as simple as printing your schedule directly online or drawing one by hand to make it unique. Beyond just your classes, it can be helpful to map out the time it takes to get to and from classes as well as when you will find time to eat and study. Simply walking through the schedule in your head can be very helpful in easing those first few days of new classes.

  2. 2. Determine Your "Fun Fact"

    Trust me, this will probably be helpful in some way. Some professors love to break the ice by asking students to tell a fun fact about themselves, what they did over break or what specifically they want to do with their degree. Questions like these are often harmless, but can be an annoying addition to the stress of the first week. By knowing ahead of time what your possible answers could be, you will have one less thing to worry about. Also, if you have a nickname, figure out if you are going to tell your professors to call you by that name or not ahead of the first class.

  3. 3. Go to Class, Then Purchase Supplies

    I have fallen into the trap of buying my textbooks ahead of class and feeling extra prepared to only have to return all of the books because I did not actually need them. Textbooks can be tricky, as you do not want to pay for them and have to return them but you also do not want to wait and have them sell out in the bookstore. Generally, I think for classes in the math and sciences, the textbooks are usually an essential part of the course and will need to be purchased. For other classes, they may not be as “required” as the syllabus might seem. For supplies such as notebooks and binders, I advise waiting until after the first day of class to assign those supplies to each class. I often have one notebook and folder for the first week of classes to take notes before getting completely organized.

  4. 4. Assess Your New Workload

    After syllabus week, take some time to assess the new workload you may have to navigate this semester. This can be done by looking through each class’ syllabus and writing down any important exams or due dates. This is also the time to figure out how much time you will need out of class to complete your projects/assignments. How did you navigate your workload last semester? If you find yourself with more work this semester, you may need to schedule extra time for specifically studying into your schedule.

  5. 5. Coordinate with Friends

    So you have figured out the ideal schedule for your workload this semester, how do you figure out when to be social? While I am not a fan of setting specific times to spend with your friends, it can be helpful to ask for your friends’ schedules to see when you could meet for lunch together or even if you have classes together. This is also a good time to coordinate with roommates and find out what your routine might be if your schedules clash.

  6. 6. Join a New Club/Group

    If you have the time and interest, this is a great time to join a new club or organization on campus! By reaching out to club members or by attending club meetings you can find a new organization to be a part of that is of interest to you and could help expand your social circle.

  7. 7. Breathe

    Last, but certainly not least, you need to take time to relax. This can be a stressful time of navigating new classes, assignments and schedules. Taking time to yourself each day to recharge is essential to a great start to this daunting new semester.

I hope you find these tips to be helpful as you enter this first week of the new semester!