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5 ½ Things to Make This Your Best Academic Semester Yet

Scene on campus of students studying

With winter break and syllabus week behind us, it’s officially fair to say that the spring semester has begun. And while it’s exciting to think about all the opportunities a new semester can bring, actually tackling your academic goals can be a scary and overwhelming thing. To make that process a little easier for you, keep reading for 5 1/2 ways to make this your best academic semester yet.

1) Write out big goals

Just because the first of the year is over doesn’t mean you can’t think about your new semester goals. And I like to think about long term-goals at the beginning of each semester. Things like maintaining a GPA above [insert your goal here] or making a habit of managing stress and anxiety better when the workload really hits, are great things to write down. Then, once your big, semester-long goal is written down, you can break it down into weekly (or even daily), manageable steps for achieving your goal.

2) Daily and/or weekly to-do lists

On the note of writing things down, I’m sure you already know that writing to-do lists or goals make it far more likely that you’ll accomplish what you want. If you didn’t know, now you know. So, then, consistency is the second part of that fact. One thing that’s helped me stay organized every week is picking a certain time each week — usually Sunday evenings or Monday mornings — and writing out what and when is going to be due in each class. It’s a great way to visualize all there is to do early in the week so you’re not blindsided, and you can even make daily to-do lists from there!

3) Form relationships in class

In order to get the most out of your classes (as far as your own personal takeaways and the grade you receive) can be dependent on your participation. Engage with your professors by simply asking them questions or thanking them after class. It’s a good way to get to know them and understand the class material better. Talk with other students around you before and after class. Some of the best study groups I’ve ever had have just come from small-talking with those sitting around me. So put yourself out there, maybe make some new friends, and reap the benefits!

4) Find your study spot

There’s a lot of research that points to how where you choose to study, read, or do homework contributes to how productive you are. As we start 2022, try out different spots and figure out which spaces are the best for you. For me, that happens to be the many coffee shops near campus, like District Coffeehouse or Dawson Taylor. Some of my friends swear they’re most productive in the library, ILC, Student Union Building, or even their desk in their apartment or dorm room. Hop around and figure out what works best for you!

5) Timers

One of the best things I’ve done to ensure I stay on top of work in my classes is what I like to call, “The Timer Technique”. As the name suggests, I pick an amount of time and set it on my laptop or phone. The only rule is that I work hard without distractions until that timer goes off and then I’m done. That means no checking Snapchat, staring off into space, or even really getting up. I’ve often found that working without distractions like that and knowing that I will be done as soon as the timer goes off makes me work really hard. I even sometimes have time to work ahead before that final ding goes off. The Timer Technique isn’t for everyone, but if you’re having trouble getting yourself going, it’s a heck of a way to start.

5 ½)  Make an “academic” playlist

Music is a great (and fun!) way to get things done. As we start the new year, throw together a studying or getting things done playlist! Something as simple as a good bundle of songs to listen to can make studying more exciting. Open Spotify and start curating that perfect playlist!

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