Four Ways to Prepare for a Successful College Semester: College Easy Reads Series
Confession time: I can tend to be perfectionist when it comes to writing or looking for inspiration, (hence why I failed miserably at posting regularly last quarter). Ironically however, as I am sure you have noticed, my perfectionist habits rarely translate into perfectly articulate and inspiring posts.
So, while I do genuinely appreciate spending weeks, days and hours attempting to effectively brainstorm, analyze and communicate my thoughts via this particular medium, I also think I do myself an injustice.
Because if we are being brutally honest, does anyone (other than my hyper-critical self), expect that every one of my posts be super fancy? I highly doubt it—especially given that the niche for this blog is orientated towards millennials like myself, (a generation that is credited for having an attention span less than a goldfish).
And so with that unintentionally depressing introduction behind us, today marks the emergence of a series I am calling “college easy reads.” In this series I will write various how-to’s, challenges, and tips/tricks for college students. Some of these posts will be based from personal advice, and others will be based on outside research/resources.
Sound gucci? (*Just go with it Allie--just go with it*).
Today’s first college easy read is based on one of my favorite cheesy motivational quotes: “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”
Without further ado, here are my four P’s to a successful quarter/semester: plan, prioritize, prepare and practice.
First and foremost, the start of a fresh quarter/semester is a great time to get serious about planning.
I personal start planning my new quarter/semester by inputting my basic, nonnegotiable activities such as classes, club/community involvement, work schedule, etc. Pick one color that will represent your primary engagements and input those using either colored pens or digital color customization (I personally love Google calendar because it is free, easy to sync with your phone and allows you color customize super easily).
Inputing your primary engagements into your calendar allows you to visualize how much of your schedule will realistically be blocked off before you move onto fitting negotiable tasks into your schedule.
Next, pick another color and determine where in your schedule you can input tasks that are not bound to a specific time but that are still important (some personal examples include studying/doing homework, cleaning, working out, meeting with my friends/family, blogging, etc.).
And last, but not least: consider inputting your assignments for the coming quarter/system. One of my favorite things about college is having a tentative course schedule. So if you want to be super prepared to conquer a new quarter/system, you guessed it, pick another color, pull up all your course schedules and input your assignments for as far in advance as possible.
Inputing your assignments (although often tedious and time-consuming), takes little to no mental energy and will simplify your life so much. Also, as an added bonus, inputing your assignments ahead of time allows you to plan for unfortunate future conflicts (i.e. having three midterms on one day), rather than waiting and being overwhelmed at the last minute.
Prioritizing has always been a challenge for me, and I am guessing that it may be for other college students who are also constantly presented with an array of different academic and social opportunities.
Unfortunately common (perhaps well-meaning) sentiments like, “You only have four years,” or “Make sure you get the full college experience” can lead college students to spread themselves too thin and consequently burn out. And for that reason, I think it is essential to spend the first part of your quarter/system first determining and then writing down your top priorities—specifically where you want to spend your energy and what you want to get out of your quarter/semester.
And once you have determined and set in stone your top priorities, try pursuing your those things as soon as possible.
Because although it may be uncomfortable saying no or giving up certain opportunities in order to focus on where you are really being called to, the best time to do so is during the beginning of the quarter/semester when you have more time and mentally energy.
If read any of my other posts then you know that my faith and personal relationships are two of my top priorities, but just like everyone else, I can quickly doubt my priorities if I start to compare myself. Which leads me to my last tip to remember that everyone’s priorities are going to be different—so gear up and put yo blindfolds on as much as possible.
Although similar to step number one (plan), step three involves analyzing your schedule and preparing yourself for success.
Once you have your schedule in front of you and your top priorities in place, it is an ideal time to ask yourself: “What places, people and things can I utilize to help me successfully execute the plan I have in place?”
Sometimes this step can be as simple as reorganizing your old binders, ordering new textbooks, testing out good study spots or times, etc. On the other hand, this step can be as detailed as outlining weekly catchup/vent sessions with your dear squad, printing out accountability homework schedules, researching new time management techniques, etc.
Regardless of whether you use simple or detailed preparation techniques, the point of this step to utilize specific resources in order to prevent future crisis.
A fresh new quarter/semester often brings with it an illusion of free time and false sense of relaxation—which in turn can encourage college students to slack off of on their studies during the first few weeks of school.
But regardless of the fact that between 80 and 95 percent of college students procrastinate on their schoolwork according to the American Psychological Association, outliers from this majority experience less stress and more productivity. Wait really? You got it, research supports that if you want to truly stick to a healthy schedule and avoid future stress you should practice good time management techniques.
And as an added bonus, not slacking off during the beginning of a new quarter/semester also gives you a leg up from your procrastinating peers.
Here are three of the ways that I personally think that starting both strong and early in your classes sets you up for a successful school year:
1.) You can use your the motivation of a new quarter/semester to potentially receive your best grades which will allow you to buffer future less desirable grades.
2.) You can get a head start on your big projects which according to research enables you to create better content.
3.) Your routine will be less likely to fail during periods of high stress later down the road because it is has become an integrant part of your everyday life.
And with the four P’s to a successful college quarter/semester, our first post in the first ever easy college reads series is complete. If you are a current or past student, I would love to hear your advice for successful semester/quarter, so be sure to leave it in the comments down below.