Preparation is key for anything in life, but especially when it comes to academics. With the summer off to relax, why not make sure you’re ready for the upcoming semester so you can reach your goals and be successful? To start you off on the right foot, here are our 12 tips for how to prepare for a successful academic semester and year.
1. Plan your schedule for the semester
In order to have a successful academic semester, it’s important to get organised as early as possible. As soon as you get your timetable, fill out your calendar for the month and include class times, important events with friends, society events, and anything else you don’t want to miss.
By knowing what your semester entails, you’ll be motivated to stay organised and on top of your work, and you won’t take on too much in terms of extra-curricular activities by knowing your schedule in advance.
2. Write every due date in your calendar
Along with your timetable, one of the most important things you can do to ensure a successful academic semester is writing all your due dates in your calendar as soon as you get them. This includes coursework deadlines, exams, and other dates mentioned in module handbooks.
These are dates you don’t want to miss, and by scheduling them early, you’ll be able to plan your time accordingly in the weeks and days before your deadline.
3. Learn your tutors’ office hours
Every student that has experienced a successful academic semester will tell you that the key to academic success is communicating with your tutors. Especially before exams and essays, having a one-on-one conversation with your tutor will help you develop an essay or revision plan of which they approve, guarantee higher marks, and even help you later on in life with references and networking.
Your tutors are there to help you and they want you to succeed, so don’t let this resource go wasted. Make it a priority to schedule their office hours in your calendar and attend!
4. Get a head start on required reading
For essay-heavy subjects, particularly those in the arts, required reading can take up a majority of your time during the semester. However, by getting a head start on this reading the summer before, you’re paving the way for a successful academic semester because you’re creating additional time for yourself throughout the academic year for writing essays, doing research, and getting involved on campus.
If you know your required reading before the semester begins, buy your books early and crack on while you still have free time. Your future self will thank you!
5. Book things to look forward to
While working hard at uni during the semester is important, another key to a successful academic semester is motivating yourself beyond deadlines and coursework. Students can also forget that taking healthy breaks away from their studies is important!
By booking travel, buying ball tickets, or planning when you will venture home for a weekend, you’re creating external motivation that will help you work harder on coursework and stay positive. This is also a great way to get out of an unproductive slump during the semester.
6. Establish your goals
Along with motivation through external events, it’s important to establish your goals early on to guarantee a successful academic semester. Through goal-setting, you’re staying focused on what you want to accomplish throughout the term and manifesting success.
Before the term begins, take the summer to reflect on your last semester and create your goals from what you wished you did differently and what would make you feel proud in the future. You can write these down or type them, but try to keep them in a place you’ll see often so you have a constant reminder of what you’re working towards.
7. Schedule when you’ll start assignments
As much as scheduling due dates in your calendar can curve procrastination, it’s normal to get overwhelmed with assignments in uni. It’s so easy to lose track of how close a deadline is with everything you have going on. But you don’t want to do poorly on a piece of coursework just because you started it too late.
To ensure you have a successful academic semester and meet your goals, schedule when you would ideally like to begin your assignments individually. You can even create small to-do lists for each day so you stay organized and feel less overwhelmed.
8. Find 2-3 study spaces on campus
Another key to success is ensuring you find a study space that works for you, which can be easier said than done. Before the term starts or at the start of the semester, experiment with different study spaces on campus until you find 2 to 3 that truly enhance your productivity and keep you focused.
Some common study spaces include the library, a coffee shop, or the student union, but definitely try out a variety at the start because everyone is different and works differently depending on the setting.
9. Budget your money
As much as we don’t like to admit it, money can actually determine whether you will have a successful academic semester. Though excessive spending or eating out all the time isn’t necessary or healthy, feeling constantly stressed about your finances will negatively affect your mental health and focus, and this can ultimately have an impact on your academic performance.
In the break before a new semester, whether that be summer or the Christmas holidays, save as much money as you can and create a budget plan for the semester. By preparing financially, you’ll avoid later stresses and be able to focus on your coursework and uni life.
10. Know your ideal workout routine
Exercise is scientifically proven to benefit your mental health and help increase productivity and focus, so it’s no wonder that most students who have a successful academic semester also prioritise their physical health. Before the term starts, figure out your ideal workout routine and create a schedule of how often you would like to exercise during an average week.
Your workout routine can include going to the gym, doing yoga, taking long walks, or running, among other things, but as long as you’re getting active, you’ll begin to see increased concentration and productivity while working on deadlines and be more successful than if you weren’t exercising regularly.
11. Turn off social media notifications
Social media is a huge form of distraction for uni students, and turning off notifications or turning off your phone entirely while you work is an easy way to bypass this and ensuring that social media doesn’t negatively impact your work.
Not only should you turn off notifications for Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and other networks in the notification centre of your phone to avoid distractions, but you can also install apps like Forest or Flora that encourage you to stay off your phone while you revise and help you combat these distractions. Doing so will ensure you have a successful academic semester and stay focused.
12. Decorate your room
Your room at uni should be a space that feels like home and makes you excited about returning at the end of a long day. After all, if you can’t relax and be yourself in your room, where else are you going to do it? By decorating your room and making it feel cosy, you’re creating a safe space for yourself to escape from the stress of your degree and find your inner peace again.
Mental health is just as important as your academic success, so you should ensure that you have your own place at university where you can recharge. Without these steps to take care of your mental well-being, you cannot truly have a successful academic semester.