5 Ways to Prepare for A New Semester

It’s that time again! Grad school starts back up for me today after a nice two-month hiatus since finishing my first semester. I learned a lot last time around, so now I have a better idea of what to expect and what my limits are. This semester will be a much lighter load for me, as I’m taking two 8-week classes this spring, and they won’t overlap (much different from my three courses at once last sem).

While I’d love to squeeze in a third, I opted for this lighter schedule for three main reasons:

  1. My boss will be going out on maternity leave in a couple months so I’ll be taking on more responsibility at work.
  2. There are no online courses available in the spring (lame) and I don’t want to go to campus 2+ times a week after work.
  3. This kind of combines the two previous reasons, but I still want to have a life/want to avoid burnout with everything; hence the reason I’m lightening the load.

So with that, I’m ready to kick butt this semester! Here are 5 ways I’m preparing for the semester, and how you can too!

5 Ways to prepare for a new semester

Print + Review the Syllabus Before Class Starts

While your prof will surely pull out the syllabus and go through it on the first day, I always like to read ahead so I know what’s ahead. How is the final grade determined (e.g. breakdown of projects, exams, participation)? Are there certain things you need to bring with you to class?

Write Down Important Dates

This is huge. Make sure any big due dates are marked in your planner. This will be super helpful when scheduling things as the semester goes on. I’m a big plan-in-advance person, so this is a key thing for me!

Do a “Dry Run” to Find The Best Route

This is something I’ve been doing since undergrad! If you having classes in a new school or a new building in the school, do a dry run to make sure you know where you need to park, where the building is, and most importantly, where the classroom is! Also, make sure to account for time of day if you’re commuting to campus.

Rest Up + Hydrate

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, especially the night before class! You don’t want to be dozing off in the middle of class or concentrating so hard on staying awake that you’re not able to retain any info. Also, hydrate! Pack a water bottle (even better if it’s refillable) to tote around. You won’t regret it.

Show Up Early/On-Time

SO important. Show up to class early so you can get a decent seat (sit closer to the front if you can), and make sure you’re on time. You don’t want to be THAT person walking in late when the professor has already started talking to the class.

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  • I always do dry runs for everything when I’ve never been there before!

    • I think they’re so important! You never know how much more time it could actually take (or less) to get somewhere!

  • I always say I’d go back to school but this makes me realize… nah. I was always early/on time but I totally failed at the rest of these. Such good tips!

    • Haha it definitely takes dedication! I still have my moments of what am I thinking but I think in the end I’ll be happy with the decision.. at least that’s what I keep telling myself :)

  • courtney jones

    I am currently in undergrad and just started my second semester which is unfortunately my busiest so thanks so much for these tips! I needed these tips.

    • Good luck! What are you studying this semester? Have you chosen a major?

      • courtney jones

        Major in philosophy /of/ religion and minor in psychology! But switching in September to a major education and a minor in childhood studies as I don’t think my first major and minor is what I want to do in the future anymore after studying it for a few months!

  • Great tips! I always do all of these before each semester to get myself organized.

    Emma | Seeking the South

    • Thanks, Emma! I think it’s so important to have a plan! Good luck this semester!

  • Great tips. I never looked for my new classrooms before the semester started and ended up really cutting it close time wise a few times.

    • That’s always so stressful! I learned the hard way, that’s why I always make it a point to scope it out in advance!

  • My friends always gave me a hard time in undergrad when I would do a dry run, but first day of classes guess who was always less stressed?

    • Haha I always got slack for it too, but I never felt stressed out getting to class on time and at the right location!

  • Victoria Stacey

    This is how I prepped for my new semesters too! I honestly couldn’t wait to see the syllabus for each class!

  • These are all great tips!
    I used to go seek out all my classes before school started as well!
    It was so helpful for that first week of school.

    xoxo, Jenny

    • Thanks, Jenny! That’s always the biggest one for me at the start of each sem!

  • Very helpful. I think I’m going to start my masters soon (online) and I’m really nervous but also excited!

    • Ahh that’s so exciting! What’re you planning to get your masters in? You’ll do great!

  • Heather Gullett Denniston

    Love the advice. That is true advice for about any new thing. I really like the testing the route. So good for the stress level the morning of. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Heather! I think it’s so important with school or a new job. Better to be on time than scrambling, stressed out at the last minute!

  • Great tips and so very true. Classes started back on Monday for me and I thought, “Oh, I’ve got this. I know exactly where the building is.” This building was so confusing on the inside, I ended up being “that” person who arrived 10 minutes after class had already started. Printing the syllabus and knowing how much your homework, tests, and quizzes weigh, is a game changer! I was shocked to learn halfway through my last semester that my homework assignments weighed more than my grade.

    Kaitlyn @ Kaitlyn-danielle.blogspot.com

    • Thanks, Kaitlyn! It’s crazy how different each class’ syllabus is. I always appreciate things that weigh more than exams because they stress me out big time! And so agree! My freshman year of college I just scope out the buildings rather than the classrooms and got so turned around and confused inside. I learned my lesson!

  • My class that I’m teaching just started so these are some really great tips!

    • Thanks, Amanda! I hope your class goes well this semester!

  • Ah! My classes start again next Wednesday, so I will definitely be keeping these tips in mind. I always show up early to make sure I get “my” seat.

    ​xx katie // a touch of teal

    • Thanks, Katie! I always like to get there early to get “my seat” too! Hope your semester goes well :) Are you taking any good classes?

  • I’m SO glad that I’m past these years. It’s so overwhelming but those are really great tips for people still working their way through college. Writing down the important dates in my planner was the #1 thing that got me through school.

    • Sometimes I wonder why I’m putting myself through the craziness all over again since I already have my degree! I do love learning new things, just wish it was without the stress of exams and things!

  • This is great, but I am definitely glad to be done with school… at least for now. My masters may be calling me soon. ;)

    <3 Have Ashley, Will Travel

  • Love these tips! My semester doesn’t start until next week but I already feel like I’m struggling to get into the groove. I’ll have to try out these tips to help!