How To Start The Semester Out Right

As the beginning of the semester finally rolls around, and long summer days and sunshine dwindle away, it’s time to set ourselves up for success for the semester. As a junior at the University of Iowa, who has made the Dean’s List one semester and have also had the worst semester of my life under my belt, it's safe to say that I have been around the block and learned a thing or two about what it takes to do well. You might read these tips and think, “Hmm, of course going to your classes is going to help you do well, Grace. Tell me something that I don’t already know.” And you’re right. Sometimes, it is the most obvious things that we KNOW we should be doing (or shouldn't be doing) that are really the most impactful things of your life. 

Go to class.

When I say, “go to class,” I really mean go to class. Don’t skip that 8:30a.m. lecture just because you can mooch notes off the girl who sits a few rows in front of you. After getting into a routine of skipping class, you might find yourself trying to find a reason, even the smallest, to skip or bail on pretty much anything. You would be surprised as to how much you will retain from just being in lecture, not necessarily paying close attention.

Get a planner.

Schedules get busy and life happens. I get it. That is why it’s so important to plan ahead and manage your time. College all boils down to being good at time management. Some people are great at it, studying weeks before the big test. We all know those people. We hate those people. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I have gone to classes, gotten all my syllabi and realized that all my classes have midterm exams on the same exact day. By planning ahead and following tip #1, time spent studying is seen as a review, rather than teaching yourself the entire semester.

Savor your victories.

College is hard, and you're not always going to get straight A’s like you did in high school. And if you do, I am jealous, and you should be giving me tips. Successes are few and far between,  and one of the biggest components in achieving happiness is savoring these successes. After achieving good things, our minds tend to move onto the next goal, without fully acknowledging the hard work it took to accomplish the last goal. Stop and take the time to enjoy that 93% because you worked hard.

Get out of your comfort zone.

My professor once said to me, “you will not learn unless you are uncomfortable. No one learns from doing things they already know how to do. You must become comfortably uncomfortable, as that is when we learn the most.” The biggest tip that I can give to students for starting the semester off right is to make yourself uncomfortable. Join that club you’ve been talking your head off about. Raise your hand in class and speak your mind. Whatever it is, get ready to learn.

With all these tips in mind, the upcoming semester should be nothing but a breeze for you. More importantly, you can skip the step on having the worst semester of your life. So remember, go to class, plan ahead, take pride in the work you do and be comfortably uncomfortable.

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