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Another virtual semester was not something that any of us wished for, but at least we are not strangers to its challenges! Here are some ways to put the right foot forward and start your next semester right, even if it is virtual, hybrid or if you are lucky enough to be in person!

Write Down All of Your Assignments, Due Dates and Commitments in a Planner

Some people may see this as an obvious no-brainer, while to others this may seem like an odd choice in a fully online space. Writing all of your assignments, due dates and commitments in one place, such as a planner, allows for you to quickly reference your things for the week without digging through countless syllabi or your (potentially not updated) Canvas or Blackboard courses! When we went online in the Spring of 2020, my planner went to the wayside; I did not let this happen again in the Fall of 2020 and it made the semester go so much smoother!

Download Your Required Apps

Zoom fatigue was real at the end of the Fall semester and in a fit of wanting it to be over, many of us likely hid or deleted all academic apps. Figuring out what apps your different classes will be using, be it Zoom, Microsoft Teams or whatever else you’re using to connect, have it downloaded (and updated!) to ensure that your first day of classes runs smoothly.

"Find" Your Classes

If you have hybrid or in-person classes, take this literally and go find that classroom or lecture hall! If you have online classes, as soon as the syllabus is posted, copy and paste the meeting ID into your Google Calendar or whatever digital calendar app you use and write it down in a physical space, such as your planner or notebook for that class. Not having to search for it before each class session makes getting into class much faster and easier. 

Embellish Your Google Calendar

Using Google Calendar, or your digital calendar app of choice is an excellent organizational tool in and of itself. Embellishing it so that it includes all of your timed commitments and relevant information, such as meeting IDs, makes it infinitely easier to use and increases its utility. Although I am also an advocate for physical planners, when you’re on the go or quickly trying to coordinate something, such as a meeting or group project, being able to visualize your entire day or compare them by sharing them directly with one another is a game-changer!


I cannot stress this enough, but you need to sleep! Some people swear by 7-9 hours a night, personally I’m a fan of 8-10 hours a night, but you need to sleep, and three hours of sleep does not count as a full night! A good way to get ahead on this is to start the new semester well rested as it allows you a bit more leeway as you inch into the semester.

With a strong start, you’ve already got this semester in the bag! Go out, study and finish up (what is hopefully) the final online semester strong! Good luck, you’ve got this!

MaryCate (she/her) is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a BA in International Studies. MaryCate is now a Master's student at Sciences Po in Paris, France studying European Affairs and Global Health.
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