Now that we’re in the middle of January, college students (and grad students!) everywhere are either back at school or are heading back soon. For example, classes start next week, and this is my 11th semester overall since I’m in my 2nd year of grad school. Today I’m drawing on those previous 10 semesters to show you how to succeed in college – because you can do a lot for your semester by setting yourself up for success at the beginning.
1. Do all of your homework. This seems like a no-brainer … for anyone who hasn’t had more than a semester or two. Everyone either knows someone who doesn’t do most of their homework or they ARE that person. You should always do as much as you can, but at some point you might need to cut back on your homework to work on large assignments worth more in your overall grade. However, you should always start the semester doing all of your work. Start the habit that you do it all and that way if you ever need to cut back for one reason or another you’re not starting the semester by telling your brain that you don’t need to do your work.
2. Go to all of your classes. Similarly, don’t skip any classes! Start your semester by going to all classes, and you’ll feel good and put together. Plus, it will get your brain set into a good habit, and one of the earlier classic might introduce an important project later in the semester. Additionally, many professors have a set number of classes you can miss before your grade is affected. You can’t predict your future; maybe you’ll get sick during the semester, maybe you’ll want to go home for a long weekend, or maybe something else will happen that you won’t be able to predict. Don’t hurt your chances later on by skipping a class early in the semester.
3. Sit down with your syllabus and make notes of all due dates in your planner or calendar. This is the one thing that I suggest more than anything else. If you put the due dates in now, they won’t be able to sneak up on you and you can study or begin working ahead of time. Plus, you’ll know if there’s a week where you have many assignments due around the same time. This will also help when you make plans ahead of time; if your family comes to visit when you really need to spend the entire weekend writing a paper, you’ll be pulled in multiple directions and you won’t succeed at the paper or spending time with your family.
Some planners to check out (these are affiliate links btw):
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4. Establish a study routine. This will mean different things for different people. It could mean that you find your spot at the library and the playlist that gets you motivated. It could mean you set a certain time you study every day. Basically, find what works for you and stick to it. If you stick to it, it will be easier to get back into your studying every time you sit down. You should also set aside time in your planner or calendar for studying or doing your homework so you are guaranteed to have the time to do everything you need to. In previous semesters, I did as much of my homework for the entire week over the weekend because due to my work schedule (and my inconvenient inability to do anything after 4 PM) I wasn’t able to do much work during the week. That changes a bit this semester because I’m taking a language course so I have class 3 times a week and then another class 1 time a week, so I’ll need to find a new way of doing the work in between class periods during the week. But once I do that, I’ll set aside time for homework and studying and that will be my distinct school work time where I don’t do anything else. Abigail shares her daily study routine here, which is a great idea of a daily schedule to inspire your own.
5. If you get behind for any reason, get caught up as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to think, “Well, I’m already behind on the semester, so why should I bother trying to get caught up?” No! This is the time to set good habits, as I’ve said regularly in this post. If for some reason you’re not able to do all of your homework, get caught up sooner rather than later. This will help you get into the habit if getting caught up, which will make it easier for you to catch up later in the semester. For some classes, this isn’t necessary, but for others (like a language, math, or history course), it really, really is.
What do you do for a successful semester?
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