The start of a new school year is exciting, even in college. It can also be a bit stressful. Starting on the right foot will be a gift for yourself and give you a good semester. Here are a few tips and tricks to set yourself up for success from ITA intern Molly Michaels!
- Your mental health should be a top priority in college. Being away from family, friends, and your home is hard. Change is tough on anyone, and in college, it can be difficult to deal with these changes in a healthy way, especially if you don’t have a plan ahead of time. Each semester you have new classes, a new place to live, and many other new challenges to juggle. I lived in seven different locations in college, had three different jobs, and wanted to be involved in multiple organizations on campus. All of that on top of taking classes is not an easy feat. I made sure my mental health stayed intact by creating art, journaling, running, or talking with someone, whether it was my best friend, my favorite professor, or a mental health professional. Make a journal or daily planner! Take the time to enjoy the end of your summer – say goodbye to family and friends and get ready to say hello to new friends. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Take time to make sure you are mentally prepared to go back to stressful situations. Creating and following a self-care plan for the semester will ensure you are at the top of your game no matter what comes up.
Clean out your closet/buy back to school clothes
- Need a new pair of tennis shoes? Is your backpack breaking? A few weeks before classes begin is when you want to start cleaning out the old notebooks and buying the supplies you need to survive the next ten months. You want to have a fresh start at the beginning of the school year. The last thing you want to think about is buying a new backpack three weeks into classes.
Read over the syllabus
- Typically, professors will upload the syllabus a few weeks before classes begin. Take time to read it and prepare you for what will be expected of you in class. Look for future projects and exams, compare those dates with your other courses, and write them down in your planner.
Email your professor with questions (and follow-up with a face-to-face introduction)
- After reading your syllabus if you have any questions about coursework or office hours, email your professor. Introduce yourself and mention how excited you are to take their class. Setting up a connection with your professor will help you through the semester. If you miss a class because you are sick, or if you need a letter of recommendation, they will be more likely to support you because of the connection you established at the beginning of the semester. Don’t forget to introduce yourself in-person during your first week of class.
Talk to upperclassmen
- If the syllabus is not up yet, talk to someone who has taken the class before! Upperclassmen are an excellent resource for knowledge. They will give you the inside scoop about books you need, how to best make use of the professor’s office hours, and whether you should expect pop quizzes. They are also useful resources for tricks about the campus like the best places to eat when you’re in a rush or the best quiet study places.
Know what books you need
- On the syllabus, there will be a book list. It is best to get this list of books as soon as you can because it will be easier to find the best place to buy, rent, or borrow these books. Always compare to Amazon and used book store prices. Maybe you will get lucky and be able to rent it from the library for free!
Buy school supplies
- Make a list of the supplies you study with best. I work best if I have one LARGE 5-section notebook that I can take all my notes on in one place. I only take notes in pen because if one needs to write quickly, a mix of cursive and short-hand is easier for myself than typing on my laptop or tablet! Buy a planner or assignment notebook. A good planner can save you from forgetting when exams and important dates are, but don’t forget to enter those dates into it! It also helps you with time management.
Update your computer
- Make sure you have plenty of storage space. You need to have the room to download all the PDF documents you’ll receive this year. Check with your school’s IT center to see if they will download the latest editions of Word, Adobe, and Powerpoint on your computer for free.
Sleep, hydrate, and make sure you have all your doctor’s appointments taken care of
- Immunizations must be taken care of before the start of each year at most schools. Having doctor, hair, and dentist appointments taken care of before you get on campus will take away the stress of last-minute planning. Focus on your health through sleep, drinking water, and eating well because you want to be healthy going into a new school year. It doesn’t hurt to have a new haircut and pearly whites when you see your friends after three months too.
Get to campus a week early
- The transition back to school from home is hard whether it is your first semester or your last. It takes time to unpack, explore campus, meet up with friends, and get settled in your new place. It may be useful for you to walk through your class schedule and know the locations of your classes ahead of time.