1. Identify your support networkFirst, ensure that you have a support network in place to help you toward your objectives. Which individuals should form your network? Your parents, an instructor you trust, and one person in each class who will compare notes with you or collect important information for you if you are absent for any reason. Why is a support network so important? These are the individuals you can rely on to encourage you and to provide assistance. The larger your network and the more comfortable you feel asking for help, the easier it will be to secure the assistance you may need during the course of the term.
2. Organize your materialsBefore your classes begin, how can you prepare for a successful semester? Get organized! What does this actually mean? Sort through the documents and folders on your computer and delete those you no longer need. Clean out your backpack and desk as well. Starting with a clean slate is closely linked to actually cleaning. When you begin the spring term, ensure that you have a place for every piece of paper you receive and every note that you write in class. It is also wise to acquire a planner, especially if you did not use one last semester.
3. Focus on the futureOnce the term starts, it can be difficult to look far ahead to the end of the semester. Particularly as your workload begins to grow, planning becomes more difficult – but also more critical. So, try something new this semester: write everything down! As soon as you receive your syllabi and due dates for the term, record them in your planner. Why? It is an excellent way to make sure you do not forget an important assignment, but it also shows trends for the semester. You will most likely find that there is a week where all of your work seems to be due at once. Thinking about these moments beforehand can help you start earlier on projects, as well as remind your family and friends that you will be busy and therefore cannot be too social at this time. Drafting a semester-long plan can enable you to feel more prepared, and it can keep you on the path to success. However you choose to ready yourself for the upcoming term, simply preparing is the best way to secure a great semester. It is much more difficult to change the course of your term once it is well underway. Spend some time during your break or during the first week of the semester to regain your footing and to start with a clean slate.
Andrea Deck is a professional GRE tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She is a graduate student at Columbia University in the class of 2015.
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