The beginning of spring semester, the year can invoke any number of feelings for students who are abandoning their warm, cozy beds and endless hours of Netflix for a heavy stack of books and packed-to-the-brim schedules.
While most students feel that their first few weeks of class are the best time to relax, in reality, it should be the opposite. Instead of resigning to leisurely going over the syllabus and enjoying the lull before classes get moving, students should be planning and getting ahead.
Students who get ahead before the workload of the semester rains down upon them will find themselves feeling less stress later in the year.
Here are some tips to ensure a smoother, less stressful semester.
Planner, planner, planner – The importance of planning cannot be stressed enough. At the beginning of the semester, professors will hand out a syllabus. At first glance, it may all seem repetitive, but some professors will also attach a copy of the semester schedule, which can include many important due dates.
Now is the time to sit down and fill in all the important dates including tests, assignments and quizzes. By filling the dates in early, there’s less of a chance that important due dates will be missed.
Reading – Most classes have some form of required reading, whether it’s intense or minor. No matter the difficulty, the first weeks of a school are the perfect time to start on reading that has the potential to pile up later in the semester.
Students can commit to reading a certain number of pages each night from each textbook, and by starting early, students will have more wiggle room when missing a reading than they would otherwise.
Look ahead – In addition to jotting down the assignments in a planner, it is also worthwhile to take a look at the description of any assignments or projects in the class.
While it would be unwise to dive into a complicated project during the first week of class, it is not unwise to know what the project will consist of and what needs to be looked out for during the semester leading up to the project.
Think ahead – For students further along in their education, this first weeks of school can be an excellent time to meet with an academic adviser.
By meeting with an adviser, students can plan for the semesters ahead, as well as look at internship or career opportunities that may have upcoming deadlines.
An adviser can point students in the right direction when it comes to applying and interviewing for internships and jobs.
Routine – The beginning of the semester can set the tone for the rest of the year. Students should use the beginning of the semester to make and begin following a routine for not only their academic life but also their physical health and social lives.
Start by setting a realistic, not ideal, bedtime. An ideal bedtime, of course, would be early, which would allow for a solid eight hours, but students must be realistic when it comes to bedtime.
Students deal not only with school but with jobs, friends, family and other responsibilities. By setting a bedtime that works on a realistic level, students can avoid feeling bad about not getting to bed ‘on time’ and will have a set schedule they can follow.
By applying these tips, and others, to the first few weeks of the semester, students will feel more prepared and less stressed throughout the duration of the semester.