Christmas Break Is Over: How to Start a New Semester the Right Way

Female student outside on a laptop

Christmas break is over and a new semester is upon us.

So, what are you going to do to improve this year and make this semester your best one yet?

In this article, we'll go over a few things you can do to make this semester rock and help you ace your courses and take care of your personal goals as well.

Carve Out Study Time

It can be easy to put off studying, especially if you have a job, children or other responsibilities you've got to keep up with outside of your studies.

Keep on top of your studies by ensuring that you have dedicated study time. For instance, say on Saturdays between 2 and 4, you're studying and everyone in your family should be aware. During this time, make it clear you won't take phone calls or make plans unless it's urgent.

Act like this is a job, meaning that you'll take it as seriously as you would if you were getting up and going to work each day.

Get to Know Your Professors

Whether you're taking classes all online or in person, or a combination of the two, you can still meet your professors and make yourself known to them.

If you're in courses in person, meet up with your professors after class and introduce yourself to them. Having them know you can only help you in the long run.

For those in online classes, don't feel bad about reaching out to your professor and sending an introduction email. Although they don't have names to put to faces, they'll likely remember you for your initiative.

Gear Up to Participate This New Semester

Don't be the person who sits in the back and never raises their hand. Or, don't be the person on the class' website portal who doesn't contribute to the class discussion.

If you're shy and don't have a lot to say normally, force yourself to say at least one thing each week in class. You might even want to write it down or highlight it in the text you're reading. This way, you'll create better relationships with your professor, as well as the people in the class.

Don't Procrastinate

Procrastination is something many students struggle with, and a habit that's tough to break. Instead of procrastinating an assignment, break it up into easily digestible steps. For instance, if you've got a big paper due that's 2000 words, break it down. Do 500 words a night for four nights. Or, if it's not due for a while, do 500 words a week for four weeks.

You can always go back and revise any parts of it that have changed, or if your opinion on the subject has changed. But getting the skeleton of the paper out will help you feel a little bit more at ease.

Get Organized

Don't scramble to find your notes or handouts this semester. Instead, get a binder or other filing system to help you find what it is you need quickly and effectively.

If you have an efficient system for storing loose papers, such as an accordion binder or another type of binder, it will undoubtedly help you keep track of the items you're given much better.

Don't get caught on the day of the class, being the only student who can't find a specific piece of paper.

Keep a Planner

Phones and computers are great for reminders, but what happens when they crash?

We're not telling you not to utilize your phone at all. In fact, you should use it to remind you to study or to do different tasks at specific times.

But you shouldn't rely on it completely. Keeping a planner will ensure that you're on top of everything you need to do. Check it daily to ensure you know what you're supposed to do that day and so you know when certain projects are due.

You can even plan to do certain chunks of assignments so that they don't overwhelm you. For instance, if you carve out study blocks where no one is to bother you, schedule in working on specific reading and assignments. With your syllabus given to you on the first day of class, you should already know what's coming.

Read Strategically

Most professors give you more reading than they ever expect their students to finish. Don't get caught up trying to read every word of every single assignment.

You can get a feel for a professor early on in the semester, and how they'll be judging tests and class discussions. You should read enough that you can ace the tests and discuss the material with ease, but that doesn't mean you have to read an entire 500-page book if it is assigned.

If you're really stuck, you can even ask your professor what parts of the book he or she feels is most important. They'll often let you in on their secrets.

If you're taking a course without a professor, you can typically deduce exactly how much you need to read in order to pass the course. 

Creating Success in the New Semester

Creating success in the new semester also means balancing out other areas of your life. If you're interested in dance or drawing, for example, take classes in them to explore those sides of you. They may even fulfill a credit for your degree, and you'll get to have a blast getting it. You might even make a new friend or two.

If you're exclusively getting your degree online, click here for some tips on how to be a successful online learner.

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