Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How to Start Your Spring Semester Strong: 12 Tips

By Justine D'Souza
World Education Services

Congratulations! You made it through the Fall semester, and now you can enjoy your winter break. As you take some much-needed downtime, here are some tips to help you prepare for a successful spring term:

1. Reflect on last semester
What did you do well? How can you improve your academic and personal development? Use the lessons you learned to help you be more successful in this upcoming semester.

2. Take care of yourself over break 
It will be hard to work effectively if you are tired, stressed, and in poor health. Make sure that you sleep enough, eat well, and take the time to rest. Don’t party the whole time!

3. Finalize your schedule 
Most schools let students adjust their course load during winter break up until the first two weeks of the semester. Use that interval to choose the best classes for you that don’t conflict with your other responsibilities.

4. Familiarize yourself with course materials 
Get your textbooks early and review syllabi, so you start off prepared. Go to instructor websites and read course reviews so you have an idea of what to expect.

5. Set realistic goals 
It’s great to be a high achiever but aim for objectives that make sense given your other commitments. For example, maintaining a job or internship is great, unless you’re already taking 20 credits and participating in multiple student groups. Prioritize and make decisions that will help you avoid stress and burnout.

6. Strategize 
When are you most productive? Where do you get the most studying done? What types of distractions hinder your work? Know your habits and preferences so you can use your time optimally.

7. Attend office hours during the first month of classes 
It’s best to meet with your instructors before a problem arises. Be proactive and ask questions from the very beginning.

8. Stay on top of your workload 
It’s easy to ignore assignments at the beginning of the semester, and it’s hard to catch up on them later. Complete all of your work promptly before you become overwhelmed by exams and other obligations.

9. Join a new activity 
Trying something new will help you develop your talents, expand your network, and add to your resume. It will also help you grow accustomed to taking on new projectsa skill that will prove helpful in adjusting to any academic changes.

10. Commit to using campus resources 
Schedule an appointment with your school’s career services office, take a class at the gym, put university events in your planner, and choose a time to meet with your academic advisor. Know what services your school offers and use them as much as possible.

11. Identify your support network 
Have a group of people whom you can rely on to help you in difficult situations. Know the contact information for your university’s counseling and psychological services. They are often free or inexpensive so students can access them.

12. Remember to keep a positive attitude 
You may experience bad days and challenging work, but always try to persevere and learn from your setbacks. You are capable of doing well this semester, and your mindset will play a significant role in your success!
Justine D'Souza
Justine D'Souza works as a Credential Examiner for the Evaluations Department at WES. She holds a B.A. in French with minors in International Business and Political Economy, Organizational Leadership, and Planning and Public Policy. She has experience teaching in both the U.S. and France and has been passionate about international education since her youth.


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