Starting a new semester in college is always an exciting experience, whether it’s your first or last. At the beginning of every semester I tell myself, “Okay, this semester will be the best one yet!”, and this year I really think it will be! I’m only taking 13 hours (with a four day weekend!), but they’re all engineering classes, so going in with a plan is a must.
Whether your goal for the semester is improving your GPA, landing an internship, or just learning as much as you can, these are my top tips for preparing to have a successful semester!
Print out all of your syllabuses
I always assumed that professors would hand out syllabuses on the first day of class, but that definitely wasn’t the case for half of my classes. Some would project it on the board, but others just talked about it for thirty seconds and went straight into a lesson.
Start checking your professors’ websites about a week before school starts to see if they’ve uploaded one yet, and if they haven’t made one by the end of the first week, ask them where you can find one. Sometimes professors forget to put them on their website, but I’ve also had professors that simply never made one!
Print all of your syllabuses out and place them in a folder that’s easy to access. They’ll come in handy when you forget when an assignment is due, or what the grading structure for the class is (because does anyone actually memorize that stuff??). You can also write this stuff down in a planner, but be prepared for dates to change!
Have the money talk with your roommates
Whether you’re moving in with new roommates or old friends, it’s important to talk with them about who’s paying for what as soon as possible. If you’re in a dorm, you might only need to split on groceries and dorm decor. Apartments are another story though, and everything in this list is something you should bring up:
- Utilities (electricity, trash, water, cable, internet)
- Food delivery
- Party supplies
Thankfully, Venmo makes it super easy to pay or split bills using many different payment sources, like a bank account, debit cards, or credit cards, with many transactions being completely free! Since my roommates and I have to pay our rent with a single check, we alternate who sends the check in each month and pay our share to that person through Venmo. You can request money as well, so it’s a simple and indirect way to remind your roommates to pay you!
One of my favorite features in Venmo is the message you can attach to each transaction. For example, if I wanted to pay my roommate back for groceries, I can add a message saying “groceries!???”, so we both know exactly what I paid them for and when. And yes, emojis are included! You can download Venmo on your iOS or Android device.
Walk around campus and find your classes
It’s totally okay to get lost on the first day (or week really) of class, but going in with a good idea of where to go and the best way to get there will calm those first day nerves. After move-ins, I always walk around campus and figure out where all of my classes are, down to the exact room if the building is open! Some buildings are extremely confusing, so room 124 might be a whole hallway away from 126.
This also gives you the chance to plan out the quickest route between classes, which is extremely helpful when your classes are back to back. Time your walk on your phone, and don’t feel awkward walking from the same building multiple times. If any other students are out there with you, they’re probably doing the same thing!
A successful semester is all about finding the motivation every day to work hard and commit to your goals, and that’s a lot easier when you feel organized! You’ll be spending a lot of time at your desk, so start by making that spot as organized and motivational as possible. Find some cute organizers, get rid of clutter, and add some pictures on the wall if that helps. Make sure you have enough space to lay out a textbook, your laptop, and a notebook!
Your room is just as important, especially if you’re like me and can’t work in a messy bedroom! Invest in some storage pieces, and make a habit of tidying up every day. You want your room to be a place you’re happy to come home to after class, and one that gets you motivated the second you walk in!
Once your room is cleaned up, get yourself some school supplies that work for your studying style. You might feel best writing in a fancy black pen, or maybe mechanical pencils are all you need. Be sure you have enough notebooks as well! I prefer to buy one 3-subject notebook for each of my classes, and a couple extra just in case.
You should also purchase any electronics you know you’ll need during the year, like a printer or laptop, along with software your professors recommend having. PayPal has a ton of great deals you can use to save on expensive items like that, so just check out this page for details!
Figure out your textbook situation
Textbook shopping is probably the worst part about starting a new semester, but there are ways to make it easier! Start checking your professors’ websites or campus textbook page a few days before classes start. Before buying anything though, talk to older students and make sure you actually need them. I can’t tell you how many textbooks I bought and never used!
Once you’ve narrowed down which ones you’ll need, start checking around online for the lowest prices, because your campus bookstore is probably the most expensive. I like renting my books instead of buying them because it’s usually cheaper that way, but make sure you don’t need a special code that would only come with new books! For more textbook tips, check out this post.
Start waking up early
I’ll admit, I’ve spent this entire summer waking up past 10am and I’m definitely not ready for 9:30am classes! About two weeks before school begins is a great time to start waking up at the time you’ll need to be up for your first class. Take into account getting ready, eating breakfast, and walking/driving to class, along with an extra few minutes because you’ll probably need them one day.
Treat yo self
Whether you’re heading into your first year of college or just getting one semester closer to graduation, you’ve put in a lot of hard work to get where you are and deserve to splurge a bit on yourself. If you’ve been obsessed with a cute planner or some fancy highlighters, now’s the time to grab them!
For me, that meant buying a super cute duvet cover that I’ve been in love with since the beginning of summer. I figure I’ll be looking at it every day, so I want it to look good! Thankfully I had some extra money sitting in my PayPal account from some blog work earlier this year, and I was able to use PayPal One Touch to purchase it without having to grab my credit card or look up a password. PayPal lets you opt-in to “stay logged in” for the same device and browser combo, so when you’re shopping at eligible PayPal merchants, it takes just one click to check out!
And give back, too!
Treating someone else can feel just as great as treating yourself, so I was really excited to hear about the PayPal Giving Fund. 100% of proceeds go to selected partnering charity organizations, like the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and an organization close to my heart, Let Girls Learn.
Whether responding to a natural disaster or simply supporting a local cause that’s important to you, PayPal’s in-app donations are a quick and secure way to discover and donate to certified charities around the world! If you want to learn more about the PayPal Giving Fund and how to donate, just go to paypal.com/givenow.
What are some of your favorite ways to prepare for a new semester? Let me know in the comments!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.