The start of the fall semester of college is one of the most exciting times of the year. But it can also be a little stressful. Whether you are a freshman just embarking on four years of higher education or returning after the summer off, getting back in the swing of things is always an adjustment.
If you’re having a little trouble transitioning into academia in 2021, you’re not alone. Going back to school is extra unsettling this year. For many students, it marks the first time they have participated in on-campus learning since the COVID pandemic hit.
Relax. You’ve got this. In this post, we’ll discuss two of the best ways to prepare for the fall semester in 2021—getting organized and developing a support network. The following tips are sure to help you ease into your new schedule with confidence and composure and may even help you perform better academically over the coming weeks.
Nearly every article about preparing for a new semester at school talks about getting organized, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s vital to your success as a student. But if you’re not a born organizer, what exactly does that entail? If organization does not come naturally to you, the best thing to do is break things down into small, manageable tasks.
Review Your Schedule
If your professors have already emailed a syllabus and you haven’t reviewed it yet, now is the time. First, get familiar with the topics that your instructors will cover and the assignments you are expected to complete. Then, get yourself a datebook or digital planner and consider putting in the due dates for any tests, quizzes, or assignments so you don’t accidentally forget something important.
Plan your days out, so you know when each class is, and if you also have a job, don’t forget to add your work shifts in too. Getting your schedule nailed down will ensure you are not frantically running around at the last minute or chronically late to class or your place of employment.
Create a Budget
You can eliminate a lot of stress by ensuring you have enough money to make ends meet. For example, do you know how much you will need to spend on books this semester? If you are not living on campus, how much gas do you need to get to and from classes? Are you on a meal plan, or are you purchasing food and preparing it yourself? Creating a budget is one of the best things you can do to prepare for anything the school year brings.
Knowing exactly how much you have to spend will give you peace of mind and keep you from making poor decisions with your money. This tip alone can get things off to a great start.
Finding yourself a little short on cash? Many students pick up a side hustle like paid online surveys to make ends meet. It’s a great way to earn some cash or gift cards for a few minutes of your time.
Clean Your Dorm Room or Apartment
There are many benefits of having a clean and well-organized space. Walking into a room where there are dirty dishes, clothes all over the floor, and misplaced items makes life harder than it needs to be. An untidy living space virtually guarantees unnecessary stress, and the chances of you losing something important that you need for your next class (like your car keys or your books) increase dramatically.
Also, the last thing you need when you’re seeking out a peaceful, quiet corner to study is to contend with a mess. You start and end your day in your room, so give it a little love and attention. Forgo the parties for one weekend and organize your space. Put things away and remove the clutter. It will improve your mood, reduce stress, and help get everything else off on the right foot. Plus, it can really improve your mental clarity when it comes time to hit the books.
Develop a Support Network
Just as crucial as a well-organized place to live is a circle of friendship and support. Even if you are not a social butterfly, feeling alone on campus is no way to start the semester. If this is your first time away from home, you may feel lost and a little lonely. This is quite normal as you adjust to all of the new things in your life. However, building a support network is a vital step that can increase your chances of academic and personal success at college. Here are a few ways to do that.
Investigate Your Resources
Your college or university probably has many resources that you don’t even realize are available to you yet. It’s time to investigate your options. There is assistance available for just about anything you could need for the semester, so make sure you know how to access it when you want it.
Look at your school’s website to find a list of what is available online and on campus. You may be surprised at the myriad of options listed. Some of these may include:
Your school’s library will have a lot more than books. For example, at college, libraries may offer resources like:
Spaces to study
Spare computers and technology help desks
Most of all, libraries offer a quiet and calm place to read and study if things in your apartment or dorm get too hectic. And there is usually someone on hand to help you out if you’re finding it hard to access what you need.
Almost every college campus has a student health center. Know where yours is located in case you get sick or have a minor emergency. In recent years, student health centers have also become a place for students to access mental health support services. If you are struggling with loneliness, stress, depression, or anxiety, many colleges offer free or discounted counseling services that can help.
You may feel isolated with these mental health challenges, but they affect a large percentage of your peers, too. Did you know that over a third of all college students report experiencing depression, and nearly 42 percent suffer from some form of anxiety? Going to college is an incredible experience, but it is also a significant stressor. Help is available, so be sure to take advantage of what you need.
Your Academic Advisor
Many students avoid contacting their advisors for fear of bothering them. Don’t let this happen to you. If you don’t yet have an advisor, get one. And if you have not connected with your advisor in a while, set up an appointment as soon as possible. Why? Your academic advisor is one of the most valuable resources you have on campus.
Your advisor is there solely to support you through college. They are committed to your success and will help you make a plan to get through all your courses and graduate on time. They will help you through the struggles and challenges of school and assist you even at your lowest points. They are not there to evaluate, judge, critique, or boss you around. Instead, they are there to help you be the best version of yourself you can be.
Make Some Friends
In college, you will meet people who will become lifelong friends. But to do that, you have to actually connect with others. One of the easiest ways to meet people who share your interests is to join a student organization.
First, check your school’s website and find out what student clubs and groups are active on campus. Most groups will have newcomer’s meetings where you can discover what they are all about. Go to several of these meet-and-greets to get a good overview of what is available. Then, choose at least one group to join.
You can select something that aligns with your academic pursuits or decide to do something just for fun. You may even discover a new interest or hobby. But most of all, you will meet new people and start developing a circle of friendship and support that will get your semester off to a beautiful start.