As The first week of February draws to a close, the first month of the new semester ends for me. Last semester, I learnt a huge lesson, that sometimes, just taking notes in class isn’t what’s most important.
So this semester I promised I would start it right, and start it strong so that I wouldn’t be caught unawares at any moment in time. Although I know that it isn’t possible to be prepared to for everything, I personally feel better when I have a rough idea of what’s going on.
So here are 7 things to ensure you are starting your semester on the right foot:
- Take a deep breath
When the semester is starting up again, the last thing you want to do is get into a panic. Each semester offers you a new slate- a fresh slate in which you can re inscribe your goals.
A new semester means that you have the chance to make up for your mistakes last semester so hold onto it and don’t let go!
- Create a time table for yourself- somewhere
Be it on your phone, or in a planner that you carry where ever you go, make sure that you write down your timetable. My favorite apps are MyHomework and MySchoolLife because both have phone and computer versions allowing me to easily keep track of my schedule.
Don’t write it down in pen if your college is anything like mine. My timetable still isn’t fixed despite a month being over! But write it down in pencil until time comes to write it in pen. In this planner, write everything!
From classes to gym schedule to your extra-curricular activities. Write everything down so that when the assignments start pouring in and the stress starts mounting, you’ll already know your free time for group meets and ‘treat yourself’ moments.
Which leads me to my next favorite thing to do…
- Make sure you have time for yourself
Time to read a little each day, or relax with friends, watch one episode [or a season] of your favorite show. Regardless of how busy you get, you need to keep this time aside. If you attempt to do nothing but work throughout a week or a semester, you will find yourself burnt out or relying on other things to keep you moving and that isn’t good.
It doesn’t matter if you have 2 assignments and a test the next day- set 30 minutes aside for you to chill however it is you want to. If that means staring blankly at the screen, going on Pinterest or Facebook [but not the black hole that we know as *looks both ways before whispering* Tumblr] whatever it is, have some time for it.
If for you relaxation is an hour in the gym, just working the frustration of the day away, then by all means, put your earphones on and lift those weights or work that treadmill, but whatever you do, pencil it into your timetable but don’t stress over missing it like you would a class, that goes completely against the purpose
- Write down the assignments in color codes as you get them
I make sure that in my timetable and my monthly planner, my subjects match color. This makes sure that when I look at my planner, and my month in effect, I can see not only my assignments, but the subject those are for as well. I have one color for each subject and another color for extra-curricular activities from college and another for blogging.
What this does is that it creates image association in your minds. When you start recognizing a color to a subject, you start planning your days around colors. A great example would be that I type this blog post with a test in one subject and a class presentation in another. Although my calendar only says this, I know which subjects they are for because…color!
My notes are colored too, although that’s more like different color schemes for different days than a planned and organized method as such although that helps me when I do the next thing…
- Write your notes more than once- and revise them often
This semester, I started keeping 2 sets of notebooks. One was a six subject one that I toted everywhere I went and took all my class notes in class in. Te other ones were separate for individual subjects and I wrote the days notes in them as they happened.
I transcribed these notes after reaching my room again, and having gone over them once. This essentially meant that I revised that days notes once I came back home. And as a result, I have been able to identify the places where I am facing difficulty in even before any assignments come up. This means that I go and meet my teachers with doubts often, if my classmates are confused themselves.
The result: Good relationship with the faculty because they know I study and no last minute panics as you realize one of the major concepts is still fuzzy in your head. Another little thing I do, is check the previous weeks notes before I start writing down this weeks.
Each of my subjects happen twice a week and if the gap is too long, it is possible that I might have forgotten the finer points of the argument. So I overcome it by revising, or giving a general look-see through the notes I wrote down last week.
Revising them becomes easier when the notes are written in colored pens. They keep my attention better and makes it not feeling like little black ants are marching down my page in a single file [which kind of hypnotizes me and makes me sleepy zzz]
- Buy all your stationary in one go
When the semester starts, set aside a date, after you’ve settled in and organized your room, and made sure everything meets the level of comfort you’re going for. On this day, go out and buy all your stationary.
From pens to notebooks and highlighters to sticky notes. Anything that will help you study this semester, go and buy it! If that means buying a planner or a diary along with tape and other things to stick up days and dates everywhere, go for it! Go as crazy as you need and don’t forget the important things like pencils and rulers, who knows when they’ll come in handy.
Of course, you might need to replenish your stock in between the semester, but buying everything at the start itself, gives me a sense of control I know I have everything I need therefore, I can’t screw this up. That’s the feeling I get, and while buying the stationary might not do that for you, it does ensure that you’re ready for whatever the semester throws at you in terms of ink, lead, erasers, and tears.
- Expect the unexpected
At the end of the day, no matter how well you plan and how much ahead you have your timetable worked out, there’s always going to be something that pops right out at you and surprises you. Whether it is a pop-quiz or a last minute deadline shift, teachers can be that way since “Hey, you’ve got only my subject right? Those 5/6 other classes you’re taking don’t matter!” [Notice the heavy sarcasm as it drips from the words and onto the floor…like the blood shed when pulling all-nighters]
So you need to give yourself a little room. When you’re planning your day, don’t pack it to the last minute. Ensure you’ve got the room and flexibility to incorporate those new social events or assignments without stressing yourself out about not achieving everything you planned for the day.
Life can be like that sometimes, I haven’t had a chance to revise all my notes for 2 subjects because of fore mentioned test and presentation so I plan on utilizing this weekend to go over them with a fine toothed comb.
So here are the things I found helpful, drop a comment below, or tell me on twitter whether these help you or not. And feel free to head on over to my 8tracks to find out what I’ve been binge listening to recently
(gif from www.heathersanimations.com)