Last week I began my last semester of undergrad. I honestly thought this day would never come and that the insane amount of essays I have to write would never begin to grow smaller and smaller. With each semester, for me, means getting everything organized and put together to make sure that I stay on track throughout the next few months. Most people like to discuss “back to school” issues in August, but everyone goes back to school in January, too, so I thought it would be fun to explain how I have made it through the past three and a half years.
I have taken the majority of my classes online and as 8-week courses, instead of 16. Because of this, it is has been important to order my textbooks a couple weeks before classes start because it is needed the first day of class and if I don’t have it, it is possible to get behind very fast. In order to do this, I check with the online website for my bookstore and am able to search what books are needed for my classes. I certainly recommend doing this IF you know you 100% need the book and it is a shorter class. Now, if you are taking a face-to-face class for the full 16-weeks, then I suggest you wait until the first class day to find out from your professor if the book is a necessity. I also recommend looking at Amazon, Chegg.com, and Barnes and Noble before you buy your books from the bookstore. It is almost always cheaper.
Also, don’t freak out if you have already purchased or rented your books before the semester starts and end up finding out you will not need them for the semester. Most places have a return policy that lets you return the book within 30 days to get your money back.
My school always uploads the syllabus for each class a week before the semester starts. To check if your school does this, Google your school name and syllabus. I always like to look over what is ahead of me for the semester to help prepare myself when it comes time to write that 15-page essay due. I also take the syllabus and put it in my planner before the semester even starts to avoid any mistakes, which brings me to my next tip…
I cannot stress to you enough how important a planner is. My planner is literally my lifesaver while in school because of having to balance my full course load, full-time work schedule, and family and social events. If you use your planner, it eliminates the big possibility of forgetting about an assignment and the opportunity to look ahead in the semester. You don’t need anything expensive, or flashy, just a place to write everything down in. I personally use The Happy Planner because I like decorating it will stickers every week, but it is definitely not a necessity.
4. Organization for each class
There are many ways of doing this, you just have to figure out what works best for you. I have used binders in the past for each class, but felt like they were too bulky for me. I tend to lean more towards a spiraled notebook and a folder for each class. The past few semesters I have used a 5-subject spiral because I have taken 5 classes for the semester and liked the idea of having everything in one place, but like I said, you need to figure out what fits your needs.
5. New Supplies
This is not always something I do because a lot of things can last for a couple semesters and be reused. However, I have always enjoyed getting new school supplies and I think it always helps motivate me and get me excited to start school. You really just need the basics: paper, pens, pencils, and erasers.
To wipe up the tears you shed as you begin the semester all the way through finals weeks. Okay, so this is not something I make sure I have before a semester – because I always have them on hand anyways – and I am kidding. Kinda.
I hope you have a good semester of school, whether it is your first, or one hundredth!