5 Ways to Stay on Top of Your Classes From the Get Go

It’s no secret that university classes can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first-year student. While hours of class and readings may seem impossible to stay ahead of, if you plan accordingly you can set yourself up for academic success and a (moderately) stress-free semester.

1. Make sure you have all course materials before the start of classes.

While it may be tempting to wait until the first or second week of classes to see if you really “need” your textbooks, this may not be the best idea. Spoiler alert – you’re going to need the course materials if you want to get the most out of your classes. Getting your textbooks before your classes start will allow you to get an idea of what sort of material you’re going to be dealing with and how much after-class reading time you’re going to be doing.

2. Thoroughly read your course outline.

This is probably the simplest yet most important step you can take towards academic success. A course outline will let you know your course breakdown for the semester and give you a look at what your professors expectation are like. Sometime profs even sneak extra credit opportunities into the syllabus so be sure to read them thoroughly.

3. Plan ahead and make a schedule.

Scheduling is a great tool because it allows you to map out your semester visually and is a sure-fire way to make sure you don’t forget about any deadlines. After reading your course outline, you should have all the information you need to make a schoolwork schedule. Mark down assignment due dates, test dates, and schedule yourself enough study and reading time in between classes. I find that when I have something physically written down, I am more likely to hold myself accountable and follow through on the commitment.

4. Speak with your profs!

Professors are valuable resources that many students do not take advantage of. Most profs have office hours allocated for one-on-one sessions where they would be happy to help you out if you need a little extra support. If you have a time conflict with your professor’s office hours, just send them an email or talk to them after class to ask to arrange an alternative time to chat. Professors can be intimidating to approach, but they genuinely want to see you succeed and will provide you with the tools to do so.

5. Make or join study groups

Study groups are a great way to compare information with classmates and catch anything you might have missed in lecture or in a reading. Lots of courses have online communities on social media platforms which are open for anyone to join. You can use online study groups to set up study sessions, ask questions about the course and share notes. If your course does not already have a pre-existing study group, feel free to make your own and share it with your classmates, I promise they will appreciate it.

While a full course load may be intimidating, with the right habits you can kick your classes asses this semester.