Starting a new semester can be stressful. Sometimes there is so much to prepare for that I forget about important stuff. After a few semesters in university, I have gotten better and more organized about what I need to do to prepare for the start of a new semester. These are the top 4 things I do to prepare for a new school semester.
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# 1 – Read, Download or Print the Syllabus for Each Class
It is essential that you look at the syllabus for each of your classes. Looking at the syllabus before the class can give you an idea of how the teacher is going to be. You can also find out about very important information regarding the class. This includes the grading policy, attendance policy, holidays and days off, and test dates. They may also include what materials you will need in class, like the required textbooks.
I recommend downloading the syllabuses onto your device or printing them out. I always prefer to highlight the important dates so that nothing sneaks up on me. If I print the syllabus out, I like to keep them in an easily accessible place, like on my desk or backpack. Though normally I download them on my iPad. Since I use my iPad for digital notetaking, having the class syllabuses on my iPad and being able write on them is very convenient.
# 2 – Prepare Your Planner
I can not start a new semester without a planner. For me it is necessary that I have one. The benefits of having a planner are just so many that it makes no sense to not have one for me. Having a planner helps you keep track of all your assignments, deadlines, test days, and more. It makes you more organized and productive.
However consistency is key. In order to take advantage of all the benefits of a planner, you need to be consistent and fill it out everyday. It gets easy once you make it a habit of writing in your planner each day. If you have never considered yourself as a planner person, I recommend you try it for a semester and see how well it goes for you.
I prefer using a study planner during the university semester, but just a regular planner is enough too. Since I use my iPad for digital notetaking, it made sense to also use my iPad for digital planning. I use the GoodNotes app with this study planner I made. So before the semester starts, I fill it in with all the known test days and days off. Then once school starts, I use it everyday for my homework and stuff I need to review or study.
# 3 – Prepare Class Materials
Once I know what classes I’m taking for the semester, I prepare my class materials. For me that means, organizing my iPad for the next semester and making new folders and notebooks for each class in GoodNotes. For those who don’t take digital notes this should include getting notebooks or binders for each class. If you do this, I also recommend decorating your notebooks and binders, since it’s always fun and it motivates you when you start taking notes.
Preparing class materials also means looking at the required textbook for each class. However I would not buy the book before the class starts. Unless the professor says you need to have the book on the first day of class, don’t buy the textbook early. I have made the mistake too many times where I buy the textbook before the semester starts and then the professor tells us that we won’t be using it or that it is now a different book. It is just a waste of money, so instead it is better to make a list of the books you may need. Then look them up online, since they may be online for free, or to check their price. Once class starts, then you will know which textbooks you will really need to buy.
Another thing I would recommend preparing is a USB flash drive. It is always good to have a USB flash drive to use specifically for school. You may need one when printing out something from your laptop to a school printer. So it is good to keep one in your backpack or in your pencil case. You don’t need a lot of memory, a 16GB one is just fine. You can normally find a small USB flash drive for relatively cheap in any big supermarket.
# 4 – Prepare Your Backpack and Pencil Case
Normally a few days before school starts, I prepare my backpack and pencil case. Even though I do most of my school work on my iPad, I still think it is good to carry a pencil in case I need a pen, pencil, or highlighter during a class. Especially if I have any textbooks for any of my classes, it is good to carry note taking supplies so that I can use them on my textbook.
For my backpack I like to carry light since my campus is big and I have to do a lot of walking. I try to only carry the necessary things, like my iPad, pencil case, chargers, and water bottle. I also like to decorate my backpack with keychains and enamel pins. And before the semesters starts, around two weeks before, I check if my backpack is still in good shape, if it isn’t I buy a new one then so that it will arrive in time.
For my pencil case, I actually tend to carry many things. I carry a mechanical pencil, lead, eraser, several colored pens, tape, scissors, correction tape, small ruler, memo sheets, and even a thin box cutter. Although you certainly don’t need to carry that many things, since most of my supplies are thin, my pencil case overall is small and does not weigh much. So I carry a variety of supplies in case I or my friends need them.
Now that you have everything ready you should be good to start the new semester off right. You may have other stuff you need to prepare for, but I hope this at least gives a good basis on what to prepare for your new semester.