Ten helpful tips that guarantee a successful spring semester
by Texas State SLAC
1. Reconnect with other students.
Seek out students from the previous semester’s classes, organizations, living arrangements and work. Building upon acquaintances can lead you to form study partners and future friendships. Plus, being socially involved gives balance to a stressful life. And don’t hesitate to talk first to those you recognize on campus. It is easier to speak the first time you see someone than the next.
2. Get in touch with professors you enjoyed.
E-mail or stop by during their office hours to thank them. Let them know specifically what you liked about their classes. This helps them recall you if they write recommendation letters for you later and makes it more likely that they consider you for research positions, internships or other jobs. Also, having a faculty friend can help negotiate academic bureaucracy!
3. Buy your books before classes start and begin reading them.
Some classes have reading assignments due the first day. Check each course’s TRACS site to see if yours do. Order any books that aren’t available yet. Then find copies of them in the library, and keep up with your reading there. This helps prevent your being overwhelmed by readings you haven’t done yet as tests, projects and papers are given.
4. Make a good first impression.
Getting your books ahead of time and doing any pre-semester homework will also make a good impression on your professors and classmates. If you come in without assigned homework on the first day, you won’t impress anyone. Others naturally take a student who comes prepared from the start more seriously.
5. Manage your academic time by creating two calendars: one with short- and one with long-term assignments.
Once you get syllabi from your professors, record weekly and semester assignments. Get one wall calendar with all 12 months on it so that you can keep long-term assignments, due dates, registration information, organizational commitments and other important dates in front of you. After this, use a monthly planner and assign each piece of homework to a certain day each week. This will help you visualize and anticipate your workload and plan ahead for weeks when you are balancing weekly assignments with term projects. Also utilize electronic calendars, such as the free Gmail calendar feature. This allows you to color code events by class, amongst other things — another helpful way to picture what you need to do.
6. Make a weekly schedule.
On this put all of your class, work, study times, organizational commitments, meal times, and even breaks. Sticking to this schedule as closely as possible can help bring stability into your life. The “SLAC Daily Schedule” under the Student Learning Assistance Center’s (SLAC) drop-down menu at http://www.txstate.edu/slac/subject-area/study-skills/time-management.html can help you do this.
7. Get your finances in order.
This will not only ensure that you have enough money to finish the semester, but also it will lighten stress as the semester becomes increasingly difficult.
8. Find out where to go for help — now.
In case you need tutoring, physical, or mental health assistance later, find out where those services are on campus. Look at the academic services offered at SLAC by visiting our website at http://www.txstate.edu/slac/. Then, check out SLAC’s list of other campus academic services at http://www.txstate.edu/slac/othersupport.html. On Texas State’s homepage, look under the drop-down menu for Current Students at http://www.txstate.edu/ for information about other services, including medical, financial, and recreational. Finally, look at http://www.counseling.txstate.edu/ for information on obtaining counseling should you need it.
9. Locate healthy outlets for fun and relief from stress.
Joining a student organization related to your interests can help, as can visiting the campus recreational facilities. Look again under Current Students on Texas State’s home page and on other drop-down menus there for hints about where to find these things and what’s new to do at Texas State. Venture off campus, too, to see movies, eat out and find activities that take you beyond the world encompassed by the university!
10. Set goals and make commitments.
Doing this makes you far more likely to achieve what you came to college to learn to do in the first place! Remember to make your goals SMART: specific, measurable, realistic, and time-oriented (with concrete deadlines, some short-, others long-term).
And have a great spring semester!