Two Quick Tips For Starting Semester Off Right!
A new semester is upon many college students. Two key things to set up for a successful term are to re-establish a routine and schedule ahead. Both of which should be started a couple of weeks BEFORE starting back up.
Re-Establish Daily Routine
During summer break, many students let go of their daily routines and enjoy a more relaxed schedule. This type of varying schedule is nice when you can sleep in and nap without having many things to do (aka homework or studying). However, it is not so great when you are trying to be back in a school routine and be productive. Between catching up with friends, classes, homework, etc., it can be hard to get back on a schedule. Having a fairly regular routine of daily habits (eating, sleeping, attending classes, work, etc.) is so important! This helps to promote school performance and overall well-being.
When reconnecting with our College Connections students, we begin by organizing and re-establishing daily routines. Yes, college is a time to have fun which may include some late nights and sleep deprivation, but it is important to make these events exceptions and not the rule! For your own schedule, think about a sensible routine and identify what are some realistic goals for daily habits. Ask yourself what would be good times for things like bed time and waking up, meals, exercise, and study periods for completing homework and studying. We generally encourage our students to keep a consistent routine during the week, while allowing themselves a little flexibility on weekends/non-school days. For example, if bed time during the week is 10 pm, maybe extend it a bit on weekends but still within reasonable limits such as 12 pm. Our students agree that keeping a consistent schedule (even on weekends!) is helpful. See sample here.
The beginning of the semester may also feel like a more relaxed period in terms of workload. The first few weeks usually are not inundated with assignments or tests. However, this also makes it a great time to start looking ahead at the semester. By examining course syllabi, you can usually seen when assignments, tests or projects will be due. We start by having our students gather the syllabi for all their classes. Then, they write down in their planners/organizers (whatever they prefer to utilize for task management) all assignment due and test dates. We also find a simple calendar or spreadsheet also works. Another helpful hint: utilize different color ink for different classes; see sample here. This does not mean that students have to start working right away on larger assignments. This does provide a great preview of the entire semester. Students often think of classes independently, without realizing how class assignments and tasks can easily add up. Many students feel overwhelmed if they suddenly realize that they have a paper, test, and project due next week! By looking ahead, students will be able to see and plan for situations such as these.
In addition, if there is a particular type of task or assignment that a student struggles with (e.g. essays), knowing when they are due gives time to plan ahead to get extra help. Lastly, we encourage students still have lives outside of just school. If there any events (e.g. weddings, birthdays, trips, concerts, etc.) during the term, we also want to note those. If we know a student has a planned trip, we can look at the schedule to see what is due around that time. Then we can plan ahead to make sure they get what they need done and then are able to really enjoy themselves!