3 Things You Should Do At the Beginning of Every Semester Plus a Bonus Tip!

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Psst… I also made a video about this if AudioVisual is more your style 🙂

Guys! This is like my ultimate favorite time of the year y’all. Like no lies. While everyone else is dreading the end of summer, I’m always super can-hardly-contain-myself excited to go out n get new notebooks and plan out my weekly schedule. I know I know, I’m a bit if anomaly. But what can I say, I’m a just a life-long leaner who loves doing just that… learning.

However, even though I LOVE this time of year, I do recognize that school can, at some point in the semester, get a little cray and before we know it we’re drowning in work to do with no visible end in sight. When it comes to this (assignments, projects etc.) there are a few things I like to take care of towards the beginning of the semester so that when it comes time to crack down on all the work, there are small details I don’t have to think of.

Small details already handled = Getting straight to work when needed!

In other words, way less time wasted.

Basically, I (try) to prepare for the worse :D.  So, here are some of the things I’ve learned over the last few years that are suuuuuppper life saving when that busy period of school rolls around.


1. Get a Planner

Photo by: Eric Rothermel

Yes, I know. This tip can be found anywhere on any article about time-management and Uni life. BUT, what too many articles DON’T mention is to write down all your dates. While that info is implied in many cases, for those of you who have never had the need to use a planner, it might have gone right over your head. That’s okay… I caught it for you and now I’m giving it back 😉. Here are the type of dates you should write down:

  • All your tests, quizzes, exams, homework, readings, projects, and presentations.
  • Your professors’ office hours, office location, phone number and e-mail (in a easy-to-get-to section like a blank page in the back)
  • Your major’s department location and phone number extension (again, in a space in the front or back of your planner
  • There’s one more thing, it’s in the next tip!


2. Designate Your Study Days and Times Now, Not Later

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I’m telling you now, the best way to make sure you’re studying regularly and not waiting until the last minute is to choose the days and times you will study, ahead of time.

So, there’s this general rule of thumb for how many hours per unit or credit university students should study. The rule is 2-3 hours of study outside of class per unit/credit. So, if you are taking 12 units, you should be studying between 24 and 36 hours a week. Add that to how many hours you spend IN class and that’s between 36 and 48 hours a week. That. Is. A. Freaking. Full. Time. Job.

I’m not trying to scare you, I promise. I’m just trying to show that if you plan on doing a good job, you need to account for study time. Sure, in many subjects you can wait until the last minute all the time and frequently pull all-nighters and get away with passing grades. But, in those instances, the knowledge simply doesn’t stick and knowledge is the reason we do all this work in the first place.

So, do yourself a favor and just schedule it in now. Twenty-four hours broken up into 6 days (Cuz we all need a full day off!) comes to 4 hours of study a day. I know that can seem daunting, so if that’s too overwhelming, at least start with 2-3 hours a day, because some studying is still better than waiting until the last minute. Remember, studying doesn’t just mean reviewing for an exam; things like working on projects, reading before lecture and finishing an assignment are all things counted as studying.

Oh, and remember that whole “Write Errythang Down!” tip above? Yea, write down your study times too. If it’s written into your schedule, you will be more likely to go and actually do it!

2.5 Pick out Your Study Spots Ahead of Time

Yes, tip 2.5, cuz it relates to the first one 😃.

So, you’ve already done the work of planning when you’ll study and writing it down in your agenda (hopefully). Now you’re going to decide on a few places that are “study-worthy” based on your environmental needs.

Do you need absolute silence when you study or do you thrive with background noise? Do you need to be able to stretch out and and spread out all your books or are you a laptop, notebook and pen kinda gal? Need some greenery or are you better when there’s nothing to distract you? These are the questions you need to ask yourself when picking out places that you like to study. Also think about what study environment you need for specific subjects.

Then, if you only know the library and not other places to study, go exploring. Carve out some time this week and wander around your campus. And if you go to a big school, see if there are any Reddit forums from other students at your Uni that talk about cool study spots. Remember to think of nearby cafés too!


3. Load Up That Printer Card

This is something that I’ve recently vowed to ALWAYS do. That is, to load my printer card with at least 5 bucks at the beginning of every semester. As a student with often a million and 1 things going on, it’s easy to forget simple things like printing something for class. And, it’s really easy to run out of ink fast.

Have you ever run out of ink in the middle of printing an essay due in the next hour? No? Good for you! But I have, and let me tell you, it ain’t fun. This kind of thing can be avoidable of you take your butt to the store for ink when you should, but even then, sometimes printers like to act like a princess and refuse to do any work.

That is where your school printers come in handy.

Now if you plan on doing all printing at your school anyway, then this tip is probably obvious to you. But, if you are planning to always print at home, account for a few no-go’s and load up that printer card account. You will be SO happy you did!




4. Introduce Yourself to All Your Teachers

And for that matter, talk to them as regularly as possible. This is something I was lucky to learn young. Talk to your teachers! Introduce yourself, show your face so they can pair it with the name. Make sure they know who you are. This applies whether your class has 500 students or 5, show face! Obvs that’s easier to do in a smaller class, but you’d be surprised how fast a professor can forget a face.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to introduce yourself after class (particularly if it’s during the first week of school), or go to their office hours to introduce yourself. If you decide to go the office hours route, try to have a question or even a comment on the material you guys are learning so that the conversation is more meaningful. In doing this, your professor will have a conversation to connect your face and name to.

If you’re wondering why this is a tip, then let me explain. Showing face with a professor helps you out in the end. If an emergency happens during the semester and you need to ask for extra help or more time, professors who already know a student tend to be more empathetic when a student is struggling. In addition to that, professors that you’ve built a relationship and rapport with are more likely to say yes to writing you a Recommendation Letter for masters applications or internships. They’re also more likely to think of you when a non-professor colleague reaches out asking for eligible students for a project, internship, job or other activity that can go on your resumé.

Trust me, it’s worth it. If for no other reason, do it because showing up to office hours with questions/comments about the material helps you learn it mo’ betta’.



All these tips are things that have significantly helped me and kept me sane in university. Like I said before,there is a semi-unavoidable occurrence in school where every project and assignment seems to be due all at once and you’re not sure which to do first, where to do what, and how to get all the dang things turned in on time.

Well, now you have a few ways to make. It. Happen!

Let me know down below, what are somethings that you do to at the beginning of every semester? 


À la prochaine!

<3 Lae

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