January 22, 2016
It doesn’t seem possible that I can say that Wednesday was my first, last day of school! That’s right.
I just began my spring semester of my senior year of college! The time, although it has been stressful [and to be truthful, miserable] at times, has flown by. I have learned so many things over the past few years, and as it will all be coming to an end [for now] in a few months I wanted to share some Tips for a Successful Semester.
College has taught me so many things about life, being successful, struggling, doing things I just don’t like doing and most of all, it has taught me more about myself as a person. College is definitely not the route for everyone. I don’t believe that you have to attend college to be successful in life. Some people are born hardworking, and others, well… it just takes a little practice!
Without being sentimental [because I can be quite the gushy, teary, breakdown kind of gal], let’s get into the things I have learned over the years to set me up for a successful semester.
The first thing I do at the beginning of the semester is print out all of my syllabi for the semester and read them over. I like to find out what assignments I will have, when they will be due and what percentage of my grade each counts for. Knowing all of this from the beginning allows for me to prepare and plan for the various assignments, and due date, I have to complete and meet throughout the semester.
2. Plan and Organize
After reading my syllabi, I will know what is expected of me in each class. I go straight to writing all of my important due dates and assignments in my agenda. I have also found that it is helpful to print out a monthly calendar and keep it with me in my notebook/folder all the time. That way I can see the whole month at a glance and I don’t have to pull out my syllabus or agenda, whenever I need to take a look at when something is due!
I have also found this post that I found from Pinterest to be very helpful in combining all of my assignments and readings. I have made this excel form before and loved it! I would highly recommend doing something similar to this!
3. Supplies & Textbooks
When it comes to having a notebook, binder, folder or using my computer for each class. I wait until after the first day of class to determine what will work best for that each of my classes. Some teachers prohibit the use of computers in class and others encourage it, it just depends. After the first week of class [which is generally only enough for each class to meet once, twice at the most], I head to Office Depot and Target to grab my school supplies!
Having supplies that are chic, functional, and make you enjoy studying, can be important in having a good semester. Call me crazy, but I truly believe that for me, having colored pens, Post-It Notes, gold paperclips, Kate Spade desk accessories and etc., can motivate me to study. If I can washi tape something and make a cute note, I can guarantee you I’m going to study it and remember it! I know it sounds crazy, but just give it a try! Smart is Chic & Chic is Smart!
Textbooks can be tricky, but I have found what works for me. Thankfully, a great deal of my books are pretty inexpensive [thank you professors], but for those that aren’t cheap, I use Chegg or Amazon to rent from. I have been a habitual customer of Chegg since I started college, but have recently found that Amazon is usually just as cheap if not cheaper! My suggestion would be to shop around, compare prices, and go with the best one. I like to buy my books when I can, because then I can write and highlight in them.
4. Efficient Note Taking
I usually prefer to use my MacBook for taking notes. I find that I am able to type, faster than I write, and I can also easily print out my notes and highlight and annotate them as needed. When taking notes, it is important to be precise and efficient. Having paragraphs of what the teacher says usually doesn’t help me. I like to take what my professor says, understand it, and then paraphrase it in a way that makes sense to me. That way, I will be able to study the material and comprehend it in a way that I can remember. Remembering a bunch of words and information doesn’t really help unless you understand it. So be sure to pay attention, take good and understandable notes in class, that way you will already be half way there when it comes to studying!
Having a daily schedule can help you to plan better. It can also increase your efficiency. I don’t do this nearly enough, but when I do plan out my day I get so much more done! Even if you start out little by little, just setting a given hour everyday for studying and cut out social media [sorry Instagram.] A little goes a long way! When I schedule my day by writing out specific times that I will do specific task, I am so incredibly productive! Which leads me to my next point…
6. Sleep & Waking Up Early
This one is hard for me. I love the morning time, but unfortunately I just can’t seem to get myself out of bed early! But, setting your alarm for the same time every morning can help to get us into a routine. I find that by the end of the semester my body wakes up at the same time everyday without an alarm. I literally get to the point where I am waking up on Saturday morning at 7:30am just wiggling my toes whilst waiting for Jay to wake up. Rising early will start your day off ahead of schedule and give you time to fully wake up and enjoy your morning.
A good part of waking up early is going to bed early [or at leas it is for me]. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night is important in being able to function well the next day. I am still amazed at how may of my friends pull “all nighters.” No matter how hard I try, that’s just not me. I have found that, instead of staying up late and falling asleep on my textbook/laptop/flashcards and not studying, going to bed and waking up a little earlier than usual allows me to study and prepare much more effectively! Surprisingly, I work SO much better in the mornings. I actually prefer to write papers in the morning. So maybe just try something new!
7. Flash Cards
Personally, I don’t care what anyone thinks about the fact that I use flash cards in college. They work. I’m pretty sure I have mentioned using flash cards before. I have had people ask me “Are you using flash cards?” and I just think to myself, “You attend William and Mary and you have to ask that question. What in the world does it look like I’m doing?” So, Yes. I swear by flash cards. They are efficient and help me remember everything from speeches, vocabulary words, lists, and more. I have used them for every kind of class imaginable.
8. Me Time
I’m sure your thinking, “Did she really just say me time?” A huge part in success, at anything, other than being prepared, is caring for yourself. If you are not nourishing your body, exercising, taking time to pray or meditate, you will be shorting yourself from the start. One of my goals is to get more active. It’s amazing how much more energy and focus I have after I exercise. My mind is much clearer and at ease. Whether you are taking a yoga class, or enjoying some wine with your girlfriends, take a little time for yourself. It’s important!
I think that being so close to graduating has given me the confidence to write “colleg ” and school related posts. Learning what works for me has been trial and error. What works for me, might not work for you. But, you just have find what system fits you best and stick to the things that help you reach your daily goals!
I hope that you found this post helpful and have stuck through the entire thing! It is much longer than what I was expecting, but these are the actions and preparations I take to help me feel confident in school, and life in general. I hope that you have a found something to takeaway with you and I would love for you to share something with me!
What are your tips for having a successful school semester?
Thank you for reading!
Tips for a Successful Semester