10 Tips for a Better Semester

Let’s face it, sometimes we bomb a test, or an essay… or sometimes even an entire semester. It sucks, but it happens; there are times when you can’t help that from happening. Personally, I have found my third year of university a lot harder than the past two. I have had some friend troubles, and scheduling troubles; ultimately leading to my last semester becoming a bit of a mess. But I pulled through and I’m not letting that affect my Winter semester! I’ve come into this semester with some goals and I thought I would share them with you so that, hopefully, we can raise our grades, our spirits, and maybe even find some extra time to raise a glass or two.

1. Write everything down in a calendar

Okay, I know this one seems obvious, but it’s one that most people forget about. By having something to refer to you’ll be able to keep track of time better and see your upcoming assignments. I like to use Google calendar because I can access it from anywhere, but I also have a physical calendar in my room so that I have to walk past it and can’t ignore upcoming deadlines.

2. Make a reading list

And stay on top of it! This is one of my number one goals for this semester. It is so easy to get behind in readings, so by making a list, or a separate calendar sheet just for readings, it will be easier to stay on top of them. Also, by setting out specific times or dates for readings, it makes them seem less daunting. We’re leaving skimming articles and memorizing Sparknotes in the past. (Just kidding, Sparknotes will forever be my Holy Grail and I’m not ashamed. Well, maybe a little.)

3. Get to know your professors

Seriously, go to their office hours! You don’t know how many times I’ve heard them beg students to come. They have them for a reason; they want you to come and ask questions! Plus, considering the number of students they have, they’ll appreciate you coming so that they can actually put a face to your name. Getting to know your professor can be rewarding, and can lead to scholarly or work opportunities, or even sometimes a little grade boost.

4. Check lists

Another obvious one, but there is something so satisfying about checking or crossing off something on your list. It’s a physical way to finish something, and feels rewarding.

5. Schedule “me” time

There will always be something to do, whether it’s cramming for a test or simply taking out the garbage. What you need to remember is that sometimes you need to be a little bit selfish or spoiled. It can be a whole Sunday taken off for a spa day, watching a couple episodes of your favourite show, or simply taking that nap you’ve been dreaming of. Don’t be afraid to say no to people (or your to-do list) and put yourself first to just relax. By scheduling time for yourself you are less likely to burn out, thus contributing to a more efficient you.

6. Make a study group

One of my friends and I have promised to meet up at least once a week to either study together, or just simply keep each other company while doing readings. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable because it’s a lot harder to skip out on the library when there’s someone meeting you there. Plus, it makes taking a break a lot more fun, since you have a friend to grab food or chat with.

7. Call your mum

Seriously, call your mother and complain. Not only is she obligated to listen to you because she brought you into this wretched deadline filled world, but she probably knows exactly what to say to calm you down. Bonus, it’s always fun to chat with your mum and find out the latest gossip from back home.

8. Be less negative

This is something I’m really striving for this semester. I have a tendency to be a “glass half empty” type of person, which does awful things to your motivation. Instead of agonizing over how many assignments you still have to do, take a moment to celebrate the assignment you just finished. Yay you, you did it! And you can do it again!

9. Be realistic

If you are so exhausted that you can barely keep your eyes open in class, there is probably no point in heading straight to the library right after. Go home and take a nap and try again later. Additionally, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Don’t cram your schedule full of things if you know it will make you burn out. One extra club on your CCR might not be worth the extra time commitment, and a few missed hangouts won’t sabotage you socially. Set realistic expectations for yourself and congratulate yourself on a day well scheduled.

10. Obligatory health point

I know, I know, another point you have seen a million times, but it is worth mentioning. Especially during the busiest times, do your best to eat healthy and fit in some exercise and a decent amount of sleep. Trust me when I say you cannot function off of only ketchup chips and Arizona iced tea for extended periods of time (don’t judge me, exam season is rough, okay?!).

Regardless of grades, the most important thing is that you’re happy! Have a good semester!