Tips on Starting the Semester off Strong


By Mira Bhimani, SCS Advising Leader

Starting a new semester is always great because it gives you a chance to start fresh. Maybe you didn’t do so well last semester and want to redeem yourself, or you did well but now want to challenge yourself by starting a new job or research position. Maybe you are taking hard classes and are scared of your ability to manage them, or you struggle with balancing your academics and other responsibilities. From my own experience, here are some tips that I find useful whenever I start a new semester:

Planning and organising – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning is absolutely essential and if you don’t already have a system in place, you should create one immediately. It is impossible to keep track of assignment deadlines, events, and midterms in just your brain. Having it written down in one place will remove the stress of remembering all of it, and also give you the chance to compare due dates and midterm dates of your different classes side-by-side. You may do this however you prefer – a physical planner or a digital planner like google calendar both do the job equally well. You will find all the relevant dates in your syllabus, and you can even add your other responsibilities (for example, a dance competition you are practicing for and taking part in) so you can be prepared in advance. Maintaining a to-do list every day or every week can also be helpful in getting tasks done in time. Advance planning will make you less likely to stay up late trying to finish homework assignments right before it is due and also increase the quality of your assignment because you will be able to do it stress-free.

Setting goals for yourself – “Goals = Accountability + Motivation” Goals give you something to strive for and a chance to better yourself. Winter break was a good time to relax and reset, while also setting 2024 new year’s resolutions. Coming into this semester, you should be inspired to become a better version of yourself. The first step is to set a realistic goal that you hope to achieve by the end of the semester, such as getting a good grade in your classes, or staying fit by going to the gym every day. Next, you should take actions that reflect your goals, otherwise there would be no point in setting them in the first place. For example, you can refine your routine to eat and sleep healthier so that you have energy and time in your day to go to the gym and study for your classes. It can also help to write down your goals and put them up in your room to remind you to take action towards them. You should also have a positive attitude where you take responsibility of your goals and do not let excuses come in the way. Be vocal about your goals to your friends and family, so that you are more accountable to achieve them. Build good habits like reading and meditating so that your mental well-being is in good shape to tackle your goals.

Making use of resources – Do not be afraid to ask for help. Especially when taking challenging classes, it can be easy to fall behind or get confused on course material. Do not wait for the next midterm to start reading the textbook or studying the matter, else you may fall in a pit and it will be too late for you to get back up. Office hours and tutoring resources are widely available and are a great way to get help and clarity on your confusion. CARE tutoring, Student Support Center (SSC), and Chemistry Learning Center (CLC) are just some of the tutoring resources available to you on campus. You can also form a study group and make friends in your classes, which will make classes more fun and less stressful. Many classes have resources such as Campuswire which can help facilitate this. If you have questions about your degree requirements or academic goals, meeting with your academic advisor can help. Similarly, if you are looking to secure an internship or job, or want to get on track for your career goals, you can make use of SCS career services.