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19 Ways To Start Your Semester Off Right

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

Summer is sadly coming to an end and the fall semester is winding up once again. As university can oftentimes be stressful, it is important to start your semester on a good note by being both organized and prepared. Whether you are in your first year or your last, here are nineteen ways to start your semester off right.

1. Go over your syllabi.

Go over your syllabi. Then go over it again. And again. While reviewing your course’s syllabus may seem dry, it is so important to read it over because it will be your guide for any questions you have throughout the semester. Syllabi often lay out due dates, the professor’s expectations and often outlines major assignments.

2. Write down all your assignments.

After reviewing your syllabi, make sure you write down all your assignments to keep track of them. You might think you can remember all of your assignments off the top of your head, the reality is that you won’t. Even though there are lots of ways to go about this, a helpful tool is using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets and dividing it up into five columns to write down all of your upcoming assignments with their deadlines for your five courses. Then once you are done an assignment, you can change its colour or cross it off your list. Here is an example of one I created last year. 

3. Get all your school supplies and textbooks.

When buying your school supplies and textbooks, make sure to shop smart. Even though it may be more convenient to buy your textbooks and school supplies at the school bookstore or Staples, there are so many other ways you can get what you want for much cheaper prices. Some ideas include buying textbooks online through UWO Facebook groups or Amazon, and buying school supplies at a dollar store or online.

4. Keep track of important things in a calendar.

After reviewing your syllabus and writing down all your assignments, make sure you keep track of everything you got going on with your calendar. With school assignments, extracurricular activities and everything in-between, keep track of all your meetings, appointments and deadlines with either a paper or digital calendar.

5. Make a weekly schedule.

Once you have made a calendar, make a weekly schedule. In order to keep track of how you are spending your time, keep a detailed schedule where you block out time for your lectures, labs, work, study sessions, meal times and anything else you have going on. You can either create your weekly schedule through a digital app like Calendars 5 or with a paper chart like this one here. 

6. Get a planner.

While planning your life on a weekly and monthly basis is helpful, getting a planner can help you with the commitments and tasks you have on a daily basis. By writing down your tasks, priorities and events for the day, you will manage your time better and feel more productive.

7. Colour code your classes.

How colour coding works is you designate each course with a colour (i.e. blue) and then you make all your supplies and planning tools for that course that colour (i.e. use a blue pen for that course in your planner, use blue folders and sticky notes for that class, etc.). Now this might seem a little excessive, but if you are a visual learner, colouring coding your classes is a great way to stay organized.

8. Establish a morning routine.

While sleeping in and scrolling on Instagram for twenty-minutes when you first get up sounds fun, another great way to start your semester off on the right foot is creating and sticking to a morning routine. A morning routine looks different for everybody, but some ideas include getting up early, meditating, journaling and/or exercising. 

9. Find all your classes ahead of time.

No matter what year you are in, finding your classes on the first day can be stressful, especially as many of Western’s buildings can be so confusing. Take some time to show up a few minutes early for your first lecture so you can find the classroom or lecture hall and not be late or feel overwhelmed.

10. Develop healthy habits.

While summer is often the time for staying up late and having fun, a great idea is to start your semester off by forming some healthy habits. According to James Clear, studies show that it takes more than sixty days to form a habit.. While it does take a while to develop healthy habits, it is definitely worth it. Some ideas of healthy habits you can start including exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep every night.

11. Set goals for the semester.

A great way to start off your fall term is to make a list of goals that you will try to accomplish in the next four months. Try to come up with one to three goals in three different categories like academic, social and personal. Some ideas for goals include getting above 80% in all of your courses, hanging out with your friends at least once a week and engaging in self-care twice a week.  

12. Sit in front of the classroom.

While it is often terrifying to sit in front of a classroom, according to Jim LaBate, where you sit in a classroom says a lot about you. Show your professors that you are ready to learn, by sitting in the first or second row in lecture. If you love sitting in the front, then perfect, but if you do not, push yourself out of your comfort zone and try it out.  

13. Introduce yourself to one person in each of your classes.

Even though it can feel intimidating and scary to introduce yourself to someone in your class, push yourself and introduce yourself. Sure, they could be mean, but they could also be really nice. I have met a couple of my closest friends just by introducing myself on the first day, so you honestly never know what could happen when you put yourself out there.

14. Organize your space.

A great way to start the year off is by cleaning up your space. Whether you live in a dorm, apartment or house, make your space look nice by cleaning up your room and organizing your things. A few ideas for adding some order to your space include getting rid of unnecessary clutter, buying a storage system or putting things away where they belong (i.e. put dirty clothes on the floor in the laundry basket, put your books in your bookshelf, etc.)​

15. Join a club or sport.

If you are looking to get more involved on campus and want to meet new people, join a club or a sports team. Not only are there hundreds of clubs you can join at Western that you can sign up for during clubs week, there are also plenty of intramural sports teams you can join as well. And if you cannot find anything to join that you like, Her Campus Western would love to have you! Feel free to email us at western@hercampus.com.

16. Do meal prep.

This does not necessarily apply to you if you live in residence and have a meal plan, but meal prep is a great way to start your fall semester off right. As homework and extracurricular activities will soon be piling up, take advantage of the free time you have right now to cook up a bunch of meals and throw them in the freezer for later.  

17. Make a budget.

Even though budgeting is not the most fun thing in the world, making a budget can really help you start your year off on the right foot. By making a budget now and giving yourself limits, you will not be high and dry in March and April.  

18. Explore the campus and the city.

Whether you are a first-year or fourth-year student, there are so many hidden study spots on campus and cute little coffee shops downtown that are worth checking out. So before things get too busy, go out and explore. Some of my favourite places to go to include Williams Fresh Cafe, Chil Frozen Yogurt Bar, Covent Garden Market and Prince Albert Diner. 

19. Have some fun.

Lastly, take some time in these next two weeks to have some fun. School will get busy and crazy soon enough, so take this time to go out with friends and have lots of fun.

There you have it—nineteen different ways to start your semester off right. At the end of the day, my advice is to just get organized, take care of yourself and have fun. Welcome back ladies to Western and I hope you have a great year. 

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Anika is the President of Her Campus Western. She is a fourth-year student studying media and creative writing at Western University and would love to work as an advertising copywriter after graduation. When she's not doing Her Campus things, you can find her baking, watching movies and shows, playing video games, and hanging out with friends.
Shauna Ruby Valchuk is HCW's 2019-20 Editor-in-Chief. She's in her fifth year studying Creative Writing, English, Language and Literature. Currently, she is working on her creative non-fiction thesis. She writes in her off days and publishes it on her on days and hopes to one day make money doing the stuff she loves surrounded by as many cats as legally allowed.