Labor Day is over and school is back in session! New clothes, supplies, and gadgets are always fun, but there’s more to starting a new school year than back to school shopping. Whether you are in high school or college, the first few months of the new semester are a great time to prepare yourself for the rest of the school year. These 10 suggestions can help you begin your journey on the road to academic success.
Professors, instructors, TAs, whatever you want to call them—introduce yourself to the people who will be in charge of your classes. Make sure you’re more than just a face in the crowd, but in a good way. Don’t be the one who constantly shows up late and fails exams. Instead, be the one who arrives on time and isn’t afraid to ask for help!
It doesn’t matter if you share a cramped dorm room with someone you barely know, have an apartment all to yourself, or live at home with Mom and Dad. If your personal space is in shambles, the rest of your life may soon follow suit! Laundry all over the floor? Piles of … stuff … everywhere? Pick it all up and put it away where it belongs.
Not sure where all that stuff even goes? Keeping your room clean is a great start, but make sure you figure out the best way to stay organized. Sure, your dirty clothes might be out of sight if you stuff them under the bed, but will you be able to find your favorite jeans when you’re in a hurry if they’re down there? Probably not. Keep your books, notebooks, electronics and other school-related necessities on your desk or in a designated spot.
There’s a lot to be said for being clean and organized, but it’s also incredibly helpful to plan ahead. If you know that you’ll need your iPad and your history textbook for your 8 AM class, make sure those items are sitting on your desk in plain sight or place them inside your backpack. Make your morning go even smoother by setting out some clothes to wear and programming your coffee maker to brew your java when your alarm clock rings! Still in high school? The same plan applies—finish your homework, put your stuff inside your bag, and set it by the door so you can grab it when you head out!
With the exception of pop quizzes, you probably know the due dates for your assignments and projects, as well as the dates for midterms, final exams, and other tests throughout the semester. Keep track of these things in your planner or online calendar. Things have a tendency to creep up faster than expected, especially if you’re incredibly busy!
Sports teams, musical groups, clubs, groups, and other organizations are abundant at most high schools and colleges. Get involved with something that you enjoy. You will spend time with old friends, make new ones, and have fun in the process.
Some students make the mistake of trying to do too much. Taking classes five days a week, being a member of five clubs, and holding down a part-time job on the weekends can take its toll. Not only can your grades wind up suffering, your overall health could, too—lack of sleep can make you tired, sure, but it can also contribute to some serious health problems down the road.
Make sure you keep track of all those clubs and groups you participate in, as well as any awards or accolades that you win or earn. Resume (or college application) booster, for the win!
Bad things sometimes happen to good people, bad grades included. Friends fight. Boyfriends and girlfriends break up. We get embarrassed. You might feel absolutely horrible about it all at the moment, but will things really seem so awful a month from now? A year from now? Maybe, but most small things will pass over.
P.S. If you flunk an exam or get a bad grade on a paper (or an entire course!) take a good hard look at yourself. Were you honestly prepared? Did you really give it your all? If the answer is no, make a sincere effort to improve in the future. If you feel like you really did do everything that you could do, give yourself a break. Your grades may suffer temporarily, but you can work hard to bring them back up to par.
High school and college can both be fun times in your life. The most important thing on your mind might be your plans for the weekend and that exam you have to take next week. Even though you’re a young adult trying to “find yourself,” be sure to think about what lies ahead. The media is full of stories about recent college grads who can’t afford their student loan payments. Do entry level jobs in the industry that you have in mind pay enough to support rent, utilities, normal living expenses, and loan payments? If you’re attending a pricy private college and financing your education mostly with loans, those monthly payments will probably be pretty high. Think about it.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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