Starting a new semester at uni is always a time for fresh starts, but also a time for heightened stress. New modules to navigate, a new timetable to adapt to, and expectations of what you want to achieve can be confusing and stressful, so I have decided to write a post all about how to prepare for a successful semester in advance. I always enjoy starting a new semester as its time to change and improve on the previous one, and its so weird that I am now entering my last EVER semester at university next week. I hope this post is useful- I have now had plenty of experience with university, and some more experience with online uni after completing the entire semester online last term!
Make sure you know when your classes are.
The best way to prepare for a successful semester is making sure that you are organised in advance. I always print off a printable calendar, and then write in all of my classes so that it is easier to see where I need to be on what days. I use a different colour for each module so it is so easy to visualise what is going on each week, and makes me less likely to miss a class by mistake. This might seem a bit pointless with online uni, because you don’t need to know where you need to be as it is all on your laptop, however I would recommend still writing down where each class is held. Some of mine are on zoom, some are collaborate and some are teams, so it makes life a lot easier if you know what platform you need to be on and when.
Introduce yourself to your teachers and try and connect with coursemates
I think this is particularly important with online university. If everything was in person, chatting to coursemates and getting to know your module leader would come very naturally in the first few classes, however with online uni, you have to put yourself out there more. Trying to set up a group chat, or even just talking to one person on your module is so invaluable to feel like you are not alone, and to be able to message if you need any help or have a question. Having support is especially needed in these times! Introducing yourself to your teachers can seem a bit of an awkward experience, but even by asking a question in an office hour or turning your camera on during a seminar can all help. It will help you if ever you need to ask for help or advice on your assignment, and it probably makes the teacher feel better that students are engaging with their work too.
Try and push yourself in the first couple of weeks
I think this is one of the easiest habits to get into, but can cause so many problems later down the line. When you start a new semester, everything is introductory for a week or two, so you feel like you have plenty of spare time to relax and ‘catch up later’. Then week 4 hits and you have unbelievable amounts of work to do, and mid-term deadlines hitting fast. Spending the first few weeks keeping on top of everything, and pushing yourself to do extra reading or lectures whilst its quiet will really help you later on down the line. Do something that future you will thank yourself for!
Use a note-taking technique that works for you
This won’t really apply to third year students as I’m sure you have developed a technique that works for you by now, however I wanted to include this as a way to prepare for a successful semester at university. I think that starting your notes and continuing them in the same way throughout the whole semester is one of the key ways to stay organised, and not lose any of your notes. I used to handwrite most things, but with the rise of online uni I have started to only use my laptop for note-taking. That means that I have everything in one place at any time that I need. I think I will still create handwritten mindmaps for exam revision next easter though!
Be aware of deadlines
Being aware of deadlines is so important, especially when the university term is so short. Deadlines can creep up on you fast, especially if you have midterm deadlines, so making sure that you know when they are and how much time you need to complete them is the best way to prepare for a successful semester. I usually write them down in the calendar that I mentioned in the first tip, and highlight them in a bright colour so that I can clearly see how they are spaced out throughout the semester. I try to begin each assignment 2-3 weeks before it is due, so I am glad that I have a visual way of seeing what needs to be started and how long I have, as everything starts getting really stressful when you don’t know what is happening!
Thank you so much for reading this blog post, and I hope that these tips on how to prepare for a successful semester help you over the next couple of weeks, and please let me know if they do! I hope that the next semester is better for everyone, as I think the first semester this year was incredibly challenging with adapting to online university whilst also completing the same amount of deadlines. I said it earlier in this post but I cannot believe that I am entering my last ever semester of university, and I will have finished all university teaching in 12 weeks.
Ryan Biddulph says
I like your breakdown Tori. Push a bit beyond the comfort zone to ease into the semester. Create some momentum to edge through discomfort.