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How to Prepare for the New Semester

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

As the start of classes looms near and summer draws to a close, it’s time to replace beach bags with backpacks, and paperbacks with textbooks. It’s always a little bittersweet. I enjoyed the months of low-stress relaxation. Even though I was busy, work-busy always feels different from school-busy, with the latter causing way more anxiety.

But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss academics a little. What can I say? I’m a nerd to my core.

My favourite part of back-to-school is all the prep before classes start: getting syllabi, making calendars, and organizing myself for a fresh start to the semester. Starting off strong is important—even if the bad, procrastinating habits eventually take over by midterms.

Here’s how I spend my days before the start of classes:

Read Syllabi

99% of the answers to questions asked during the first day/week of classes can be found in the syllabus. Unfortunately, most people tend to skip out on reading this single most important document. It’s literally a one-stop shop for all the information about the course and it’s definitely worth at least a skim. It also has all the due dates and midterm dates, which leads me to my next point.

Set Up Your Calendar 

I use Google Calendar. I find it the easiest and most fuss-free. I put all my classes, DGDs, labs, extracurricular meetings, and any other events or fixed appointments. This gives me a quick visual of my day and week. I also put in all my due dates so I can see exactly what I have coming up and start working on it. It also shows me how I’m using my time and where I have gaps and free time to fill.

Buy Supplies

Whether it’s textbooks, paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, or anything else, you should try to buy everything you need for the semester before you start. At least for me, it’s a lot less stressful to start with everything prepared and ready. Of course, you might miss some things, but the bulk of your needs should be covered.

Prep Your Computer

Set up those class folders and make sure you actually use them during the semester. There’s nothing worse than having dozens of PDF or Word documents mixed together from different classes. It’s a simple thing, but I never have to worry about where my documents are because they will always be in the appropriately titled folder. 


Don’t forget to take a breath and relax one last time before things return to being hectic. Watch that movie, finish that show, or binge the last couple of books on your summer reading list. The start of school doesn’t mean you won’t see a shred of relaxation, but it will get busier. So make sure you start on your right foot by being as calm as you can. There’s plenty of time to stress later.

This organization helps clear my mind and reduce my stress. It saves time every day to have done all these simple but tedious tasks beforehand. Starting off right can help give you the boost you need to get through the semester strongly and achieve some of those academic goals. I hope that some of these tips were helpful and have inspired you to try them out this semester.

Sally Adil

U Ottawa '25

Sally is a third year Biomedical Science student at uOttawa. When she's not studying, she's reading romcoms and watching k-dramas.