You want to start with a clean slate. New notebooks for each class or new folders in your computer—ideally both. You will need to save the syllabus for each course. Review the syllabus carefully and use it to do the following things:
- Order or access books and reading material needed for assignments so you have all you need when you need it.
- They will ask questions that assume you have done the reading, and if class participation is required, then you will be in trouble if you are called on and don’t have a clue about what is being discussed. The midterm or final exam will likely include references to the lecture or seminar discussion and to the readings.
Fill your calendar or planner. Time management is one of the toughest things that students face and it is a key life skill. You use the planner for planning. Planning is not simply recording when you have a dinner date or a paper due. It involves looking ahead and also back.
You look ahead to see, for example, when your paper is due, then look back to see where you have blocks of time to work on the paper. You not only impress your teacher, but keep yourself from procrastinating. Other assignments, such as reading a novel for your literature class, may be done in small time chunks.
Find out when and where you can find your professor. You want to get to know them so they can be helpful to you. Use office hours. The students who do the best also have the best relationships with their professors. Faculty enjoy the interaction with interested students and helping those who may be struggling to get better. Getting ready to start the semester begin by making a friend of your professor.
Find out how the grades are structured. Sometimes there may be quizzes, papers, exams, projects or class participation.
See where you are going to have to apply the most effort to get the grades you want. If you know you will need help plan to schedule time at the tutoring or writing centers. Sometimes they are first come first serve and so making an appointment while you are getting ready to start the semester is smart.
Doing all these things at the beginning of the semester will assure a good outcome at the end.
Stephenie Lee is the founder of Lee Academia Educational Consulting, consultant and the author of "Writing a Compelling College Application Essay: Workbook" and other College series workbooks. She is also an expert on test taking strategies, study skills and college admissions strategies. Find out more about Stephenie at website.