As winter break comes to an end, it’s time to say goodbye to binge-watching Netflix all night and sleeping in all day. It’s time to transition back into your routine, and get ready to resume your academic obligations. 

Starting a new semester can be both refreshing and nerve-wracking. On one hand, you get to take new classes that you may find yourself enjoying. One the other hand, it can also be a little scary leaving behind the schedule that you’re comfortable with. But don’t panic! Here are some tips that will make the transition into Spring semester a little easier.

1. Get Organized

After the fall semester, you may have realized that you brought some things to campus that you barely used, and maybe you didn’t bring things that you would have liked. 

Start with a little bit of spring cleaning at the beginning of the semester so you can round up all the junk that’s taking up that much-needed space in your room, desk, and backpack. This will give you more space to breathe and make room for the things you actually need. These changes are designed to get your semester off to an efficient and more comfortable start. 

Next, take some time to reflect back on the highs and lows of your first semester. What are some things you really liked or excelled at? What are some points you could improve on? Analyze the areas that you struggled with.

For example, maybe you had trouble turning assignments in on time. It might be a good idea to invest in a planner to stay on track. Maybe you found it difficult to effectively study because your notes were unorganized and messy. To remedy that, it may be beneficial to rewrite your notes after class or plan to use a laptop for digital notes instead. 

2. Apply for Your Courses

Couldn’t enroll in that class you need for your major? Have credits that need to be transferred over? Have to actually declare your major this semester? There’s no time like the present to get all of the administrative stuff out of the way. 

Pro Tip: Most schools have a deadline near the end of January/early February to add spring courses.

Students typically have more free time at the beginning of the semester because the first week of classes is usually introductory and more lenient. This being said, taking care of business early on is more prudent than waiting until you’re a few weeks into the semester. When you’re finished, you’ll be able to breathe easier knowing that you can now turn your attention to making the most out of your semester.

3. Run Through Your Course Schedule

If you want to make your first day of class go as smoothly as possible, practice running through your schedule beforehand. Doing so can prevent you from being late your first day and reduce overall anxiety.

Looking at your class schedule and campus map can help you gauge where your classes are located, but the only way to get a true feel for distance and travel time is by actually going to each one. Doing a “run-through” of your schedule will get you get familiar with your new daily routine. Two buildings might look nearby on a campus map, but only a real visit would give you an accurate idea of how much travel time you need between classes.

During the first few days of the semester, take a close look at your syllabus. This will give you a great idea of what to expect in the coming weeks. If something on the syllabus confuses you, make sure to ask now instead of saving it for the last minute. Write important due dates, tests, midterms, and finals onto your calendar.

4. Buy or Rent Your Textbooks

Don’t wait until you receive your first reading assignment to head to the bookstore. Look over your syllabus before school starts to find the list of required reading materials. This small step shows that you’re willing to take initiative, and also gives you extra time to buy or rent your textbooks before your classmates. Wondering where to purchase? Check out our post on the Best Sites to Buy College Textbooks for more insights.  If you’re feeling motivated, read through the first chapter to become acquainted with course material before your first class.

5. Set New Goals

Think about what you would like to accomplish this semester. Maybe bumping up your GPA? Joining a campus group? Cutting back to one coffee a day? Giving yourself an idea of where you want to be in one month is important for getting yourself out of the winter break blues and into the spring semester heat. 

Creating goals will force you to create a defined path toward achieving them, which will in turn help foster a sense of control. A great way to do this is by setting up a calendar. Whether you prefer old fashioned dry erase boards or your phone calendar, they still make great tools for helping you to keep track of your daily, weekly, and monthly goals. In addition, you can add in important dates for your spring semester so your goals and commitments can align. 

6. Socialize

This may be the best part of starting a new semester. You created some strong bonds between August and December, and chances are – they missed you just as much as you missed them. Grab a meal together and tell them all about your break, your new schedule, and all the details in between! 

The first few weeks of the semester are the perfect time to connect with your new classmates and peers. This spring, try to do something that’s new and unusual for you. Maybe join a club or pursue an extra-curricular interest that you’ve always wanted to try but never gotten around to (perhaps due to fear of the unknown). Learn a new language. Join a study group. Go to some art exhibitions, poetry readings, plays or concerts. A bit of change is good! 

Making the extra effort to prepare for your first few weeks of school will help set the tone for a productive semester. No matter what the results of the first semester, you can make the second semester a great one. Keep up the motivation and dedication to your goals and you’re sure to have a successful year! 

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