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Week Two of the Semester: What You Need to Do Now

A week before classes began I was in my dorm room doing RA training and meeting the new semester hires. During this week I watched residents move in and the parking lot fill with cars. I thought about how I could help my residents be more successful this semester: they’re excited freshmen that I love with my whole heart. They definitely know how to party, but are they prepared for harder classes in a constantly changing world? So, I put together a list of tips I recommend for the start of the semester to get you in the groove of studying earlier than the week of exams. The first, and biggest, tip is detailed while the rest are easier to digest!

My best tip is one my great-grandfather gave me: treat college like a regular 40 hour week job. Meaning, put in the work every single day. The work doesn’t have to be done from 9am- 5pm, you could start at noon or 3pm, but make sure to put in the hours every day. This includes going to classes, so if you have 6 hours of classes a day, put in 2 hours of homework and studying. By the end of the week, you’re basically done with everything and get to enjoy your weekend with much less homework and studying. 

Check syllabuses and write down all the important dates. You should consider getting a planner.

Write down your schedule and class locations somewhere memorable. Again, a planner will be super helpful. 

Start building study schedules (and following them) NOW. Please don’t wait until finals.

Try to figure out how you learn and study. Visual, auditory, hands-on, etc. 

Go. To. Class. Trust me, this is so important

You do not need to have “artsy” notes or study locations. Unlike what Tik Tok will tell you, your notes don’t need to have calligraphy and different colors, and your study location doesn’t need to be super aesthetic. It just has to work for you.

Try new locations. On the same wavelength, try not to study in your room and especially not in your bed. Studies have shown that separating teaches your brain that your bed is for sleeping, and you will end up falling asleep better! Maybe try a location you wouldn’t normally. If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t want random people seeing you scrolling for hours instead of working so being in public might help!

Study groups! These have been my LIFESAVER. With friends or random people from class, this could make such a big difference. 

Have a good mix of parties and classes. Too much of one is going to make a big difference in your mental and emotional health. 

Office hours. As I’m sure you’ve heard from every upperclassman, these can really help even if that just means having a good relationship with a professor for a future letter of recommendation. This isn’t my favorite thing to do (anxiety), but it definitely works for a lot of people!

ASK FOR HELP! Remember that you are learning and that you won’t always have perfect grades (learning NEEDS failing), so reach out when you need help. Professors, advisors, tutors, learning centers, official study groups, resident assistants, classmates, friends, family, etc.

Remember: you are not your grades and they will never define you or your worth!

Take care of yourself and remember to breathe :)

Kattiah Richardson is currently a student at Michigan State University double majoring in both English and Women's and Gender Studies with a double minor in Jewish Studies and LGBTQ+ Sexuality Studies with the hopes of becoming a professor in the future. She is a part of a ton of student organizations on campus: Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA), Pad the Mitten (PTM), We are Queens (WAQ), Planned Parenthood's Legislative Action Team (LAT), and, of course, Her Campus MSU. She also attends Hillel's and The Center for Survivors' events! Aside from university-related activities, she loves activism, reading, writing, dancing, and (badly) singing!
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