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Tips for Starting a New Semester

A person holding a mug with a yellow flower in a white mug.

As the new semester rolls in, it's time to gear up for exciting opportunities and a fresh start to achieving your goals. It's important to make the most of this time because starting off strong is the key to a successful semester. After all, it's easier to keep a good grade in a class than it is to bring a bad grade up. 

To support you on your journey, you'll find practical advice here to help you navigate your fresh start with ease. By implementing these strategies, you can start your semester strong and set yourself up for success.

Ready to dive in?

Evaluate How You Did Last Semester

Grades aren’t everything, but they can help you figure out how you’re trending academically. So start by taking some time to reflect on these things.

Did your grades improve, stay the same, or drop last semester? Do you see patterns in any of your challenges? How can you get ahead of them for a strong start this semester?

It's helpful to journal about these things. Writing them down will allow you to make connections and more easily take the next step, which is to set some goals. 

Set New Goals for This Semester

Once you've thought about where you finished last semester, let’s talk about where you want to go. Before the semester begins, take some time to set clear and achievable goals for yourself. Identify what you want to accomplish academically, personally, and professionally.

Having goals will provide you with direction and motivation throughout the semester. To make the most of it, write or print your goals and hang them in a visible place. 

Organize Your Materials & Resources

Gathering all the necessary materials for your classes ahead of time. This includes textbooks, notebooks, pens/pencils, and any other resources you may need. If it's listed as required on a class syllabus, go get it now while you have the time.

Having everything in order will save you time and help you stay focused right from the start. 

Make a Plan to Manage Time Effectively

Use a planner or digital tools to keep track of deadlines, assignments, and other commitments. Here are some popular ones:

  1. Toggl: Toggl is a versatile time-tracking tool that allows you to track and analyze how you spend your time. It offers a user-friendly interface, customizable tags, and reports to help you understand your time allocation.

  2. RescueTime: RescueTime runs in the background on your computer or mobile device, tracking your activities and providing detailed reports on how you spend your time. It offers insights into your productivity levels and allows you to set goals and block distracting websites.

  3. Todoist: Todoist is a popular task management app that helps you stay organized and prioritize your to-do lists. It offers features such as due dates, reminders, sub-tasks, and collaboration options to help you manage your tasks effectively.

  4. Notion: Notion is an all-in-one workspace that combines note-taking, project management, and collaboration features. It allows you to create customized databases, set up task boards, and organize your work in a flexible and visual manner.

  5. Asana: Asana is a project management tool that helps teams stay organized and collaborate effectively. It allows you to create and assign tasks, set due dates, track progress, and communicate with team members, making it ideal for group projects or extracurricular activities.

It's also helpful to break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and prioritize your work accordingly. Procrastination can hinder your progress, so aim to tackle tasks as soon as possible. 

Establish a Study Routine

Many students find it helps to designate specific times and locations for studying. Whether it's in a public library or at your home, you ideally want a quiet and comfortable space that allows you to focus without distractions.

In general, studying without distractions benefits you by allowing you to focus and reduce the need to task switch. Here's more on these benefits:

  1. Increased focus: When working without distractions, individuals can maintain a higher level of focus on their tasks. This allows them to engage in deep work and achieve a state of flow, which can lead to improved productivity and better quality work output.

  2. Reduced task switching: Distractions often lead to frequent task switching, where individuals shift their attention between multiple tasks. This constant switching can decrease productivity and result in longer completion times for each task. Without distractions, individuals can dedicate uninterrupted time to a single task, leading to more efficient work.

Take Notes & Stay Engaged in Class

Whether you prefer to have different notebooks for each class or keep your notes in folders online, making an effort to stay engaged by taking notes will only benefit you.

If you're not a traditional notetaker, you may prefer the Mapping Method, which connects topics, subtopics, and key details in bubbles and boxes. If you’re the sort that just needs a few keywords to jog your memory to study later, the Outlining Method may work best for you. 

Play around with the best system for recording key points. The first one you try might not be the best one for you. But no matter how you decide to go about it, the act of simply jotting down the key points of a lecture will improve your memory. 

Ask for Help if Needed

If you find yourself struggling despite trying everything to maintain or bring up a grade, never be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your teacher in the class to see if they can assist you, or ask around to see if there's a study group you can join.

Alternatively, there are several free online resources available for tutoring and academic assistance. Here are a few options:

  1. Khan Academy: is a widely recognized platform offering a vast array of educational resources. It provides video lessons, practice exercises, and quizzes across various subjects, including math, science, humanities, and test preparation.

  2. Quizlet: is a platform that allows you to create and access flashcards, quizzes, and study guides. It offers a vast collection of user-generated study materials across different subjects, making it a helpful resource for self-paced learning and tutoring.

  3. offers a wide range of educational resources, including video lessons, practice quizzes, and study guides. While it does have some paid features, many of its resources are available for free, making it a useful tool for tutoring and independent learning.

Stay Motivated & Stay Positive

Keep your motivation high by reminding yourself of the goals you set (step #2 above). Then surround yourself with positive and supportive people who inspire and encourage you.

Celebrate your achievements along the way, no matter how small, to maintain a positive mindset. Finally, remember to stay adaptable and make adjustments to your plan as needed throughout the semester. 

Take Care of Yourself

Remember to prioritize your physical and mental well-being. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, and exercise regularly. Practice stress management techniques, like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies that help you relax. Taking care of yourself will enhance your focus, energy, and overall productivity.

Check out these stress relief and self-care resources from our friends at Joon. 

Lean on Appily for Your College Research Needs

Creating these good habits in high school will put you in an excellent position for what comes next once you graduate. But it's also helpful to keep an eye on the real prize, which is your college education. 

When you're ready to research colleges and universities, you can do it all in one place by creating a free Appily account. Search for and save multiple schools to your list, then compare costs, programs, admissions data, and more to make the best decision for your needs.

Just click the button below to get started. It's quick and easy, and you'll have access to all the best and most up-to-date information in one place.



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