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Chances are, you want to do well in college. Also, chances are, before every semester starts, you set yourself a goal, to do better this time. How do I know? I am just like you.
A new semester starting is kind of like New Year’s Day. You feel that burst of motivation to be better, to do better. It may overwhelm you even, the burst of energy, like the semester can’t come soon enough. If that is you, this semester prep blog post is written exactly for you.
Oh, how I love semester prep. Planners, syllabi, goal setting, scheduling, it’s in my blood. In this blog post, I want to share with you some easy ways to prep for your best semester yet. These are things, I myself do on a regular basis to prep.
Picture this. You, first day of semester, with a venti coffee in your hand and in a killer outfit, strutting down campus to your first lecture. No stress because you woke up early and already did your workout. You also know exactly where your lecture is and what topics your professor is going to talk about. You are that girl, who not only looks damn good but is also the smartest in class.
Here is the secret. To be that girl, you just need to prep real good before a new semester starts. Let’s dig in.
Content of this blog post (click on any of these and it will bring you to it’s section):
- Breaking down your syllabus
- Setting up a study journal
- Create a schedule
- Set goals and break them down
- Get your supplies ready
- Why and what to study now
- Habits you should establish before the semester starts
- Your backpack/bag is important, too
- Digital organisation is key
- Try to sneak in some self-love
Breaking down your syllabus
Obviously, your syllabus is the starting point to prepare for the upcoming semester. It’s simple: print out your syllabus, highlight important dates (like due dates) and look for contact information and office hours. You should also look out for grade requirements and required textbooks. Another important part of the syllabus is the schedule. Get familiar with the topics you are going to learn this coming semester. I also recommend you create a folder for each of your classes and put the syllabus in it. Collect any paper you get in the class in that folder and bring it to you to every class. This way, you always have the information on you.
Setting up a college bullet journal (or digital workspace!)
Here is the thing: all the work you did on your syllabus will not do you much good if you forget all the information. You need a place to organize all of your deadlines, schedules and whatnot. Start by deciding if you want to organize everything in a notebook or online (you could use Notion, that is what I use). There is no right or wrong way, just choose one, you like more. I am not going to go into detail on Notion here though, but if you want, I could! Just let me know in the comments!
So, back to college bullet journals! Here is the first thing you do: you decide which journal spreads you want/need in your journal. Study tracker? Semester overview? Grade tracker? Homework tracker? Spending log, saving tracker, workout tracker? Whatever floats your boat! I would recommend to have a space for all your deadlines (maybe a future log) and a semester schedule, so you know, where you need to be at what time. I can also write a blog post about setting up a college bujo (and maybe include some printables, wink wink), if you want! Let me know in the comments if you do 🙂
Create a schedule
This.is.key. You absolutely NEED a schedule. It makes your life SO much easier. Schedule in everything – from all your classes, to extracurriculars, to workouts, morning and evening routines, lunch breaks, homework time … eve-ry-thing. Do it. After that, you don’t even have to think about what to do at what time. You just look at your schedule and you do what you need to do, knowing that everything gets done.
Either adjust your schedule weekly (I do) or just create a schedule where you only plan things you are going to do every week. You could do this in your journal or digitally, whichever you prefer.
Set goals and break them down
This is absolutely the time to set goals. Careful, don’t try to overachieve, because you are going to burn out, but do set yourself some goals. Be it a goal grade in a class, an attendance percentage or having no zero days – set the goal and create a strategy on how to achieve it.
For example, let’s say you want to achieve 100% attendance (not if you get sick or something happens, that keeps you from class, of course!, I mean attendance when you could go but you just don’t feel like it). You need a strategy for that. First, imagine yourself waking up, not being motivated to go to class. What is keeping you from going? Is it that you hate mornings? Prepare the night before: lay out clothes, make it reeeeally easy to make coffee and pack your bag so you only have to do the bare minimum. Is it that you lost your motivation? Find out what gets you going again (maybe a treat if you earn a set percentage?). Collect ideas of solutions to possible problems that could keep you from achieving your goal.
You also need to break down your goal, this will keep you motivated. You want 100% attendance? Maybe keep a checklist or checkboxes of every class that you can tick off if you were there. Make it a game: don’t break your streak. This way you break down your goal to one class at a time. This can even tie in with giving yourself a treat every once in a while.
Get your supplies ready
You don’t want to plan everything and then show up on the first day of the semester without paper and a pen. Also: who doesn’t love back to school shopping? Get yourself things that you NEED, but maybe also some that you want (if you can afford it!!). First, you should buy stuff that you absolutely need, before you even think about getting that new fancy highlighter or planner.
Here are some of my recommendations on basic supplies you could need and I LOVE.
I love the Leuchtturm1917 bullet journals as a college bujo. You get a table of contents in the front and numbered pages, so you can easily find anything. Also you get a place for your key, making it even easier to see what you have planned for the day. And how cute is this color?!
Of course, you also need some paper, and this dotted Rhodia pad is amazing for that. Dotted paper for notes? Hell yes!
I always write with gel pens, because I love the feeling of it and they are super black. Also, they come with very fine points, so you can fit more on one page and write very neatly! The Sakura gelly rolls are amazing, you should also try the white ones!
So now that we got planning out of the way, let’s get down to the interesting stuff: lifestyle changes! Before the semester starts is the perfect time to implement the changes you always wanted, but never had time to during the semester. If you can implement them before the semester starts, you will not have to think about them during the semester, making it a lot easier for you to stay on track.
Why and what to study now
Getting ahead of the work load could be a really good idea, if you have the time and the nerves for it before the semester starts (it’s also fine to just chill out and enjoy your free time!). A little bit of studying can save you when the semester gets stressful any everyone is behind.
Check your syllabus and find out more about the topics you are going to learn this upcoming semester. This way, you are more prepared when you go to class and you are also ahead of the plan. This will come in handy, when you get stressed during the semester, because you have a buffer, but also you could study even more than requested, making you the best student in class.
Habits you should establish before the semester starts
This is the time to establish healthy habits, not in the middle of the semester, when you should be doing 5 assignments and prepare for an exam. Of course, it is your decision, which things you would want to make a habit out of, but I came prepared with some ideas!
Getting to bed early and getting up early. Establish a sleep schedule, so your body has time to adjust getting up early for classes. You could even try to work out after getting up, establishing this habit for the upcoming semester.
Learning every day. Here is the secret of the most successful students (and people in general): they do something EVERY.DAY. Even if it’s just a little. Get in the habit of studying every day by setting a time to read every day or revising important information from last semester.
Another habit you could get into is meal prepping. It can save you so much time and money, and it is great for your health! Get into the flow of meal prepping and find out what works for you before the semester starts!
Your backpack/bag is important, too
Sort out your backpack or school bag. First, you don’t want to carry around extra weight, that you don’t need (your shoulders and back will thank you for that!). Secondly, you don’t want to forget stuff at home that you need. Think about everything you could possible need during the semester (feminine hygiene products?, gum?, headphones?, hair ties?) and organize your bag, so you can forget about it, when the semester starts.
Digital organisation is key
Another great thing to do as preparation for the new semester is organizing your files. Nowadays, we get a LOT of things online, that need a home somewhere. If you are like me and collect everything in the Downloads folder then can’t find anything when you need it or when your desktop looks like someone dumped 1685469 files on it, you need to organize that sh*t (pardon my language). Since this is a blog post about college prep, I would recommend to organize all your school files, so you can easily find them and also create a place for new ones in the upcoming semester. BUT: if you are already at it, you could go ahead and organize everything, saving you a lot of time in the long run.
Try to sneak in some self-love
All this prep and putting pressure on yourself 24/7 … it can get really unhealthy for you real fast. Finding balance and not burning out is definitely on top priority. After all, you can’t study if your health (physical and/or mental) is down the drain.
So while prepping for the new semester, think about the last one and how you treated yourself. Think about stressful times: were you kind to yourself? Did you tell yourself that college is only ONE part of your life and the world is not going to end if you can’t get everything done? Or were you quite harsh to yourself and put more pressure on? If it’s the latter, maybe try to change that, before the semester begins (and by maybe I mean it would help you tremendously!).
Try to recognize when you are too hard on yourself and when that happens, think about how you would treat your best friend in a situation like this. You would probably be very kind and telling them, that it’s fine and they shouldn’t beat themselves up so much. Try to apply the same kind of compassion to yourself. If you can love yourself more before the semester starts, you make it so much easier on you. Not stressing yourself out even more than it is necessary can make it a lot easier to get things done.
I hope this semester prep guide helped you … well, prepping for the upcoming semester, haha! I write about planning, self-development and college on this blog, so if these topics sound good to you, consider joining my newsletter! You get notified every Sunday about the new blog posts of the week, so you don’t miss new advice 🙂
Let me know your best semester prep advice in the comment section and if you would like to see my way of planning college in Notion or a college bullet journal setup!