Whether Fall semester is approaching, or you’re looking ahead to the New Year and your second semester at school, the prospect of several months of classes, homework, and other activities can sometimes feel daunting.
Many college students pack their schedules wall-to-wall with classes, extra-curricular activities, clubs, hobbies, and social outings—perhaps you’re bracing yourself for the busyness that will soon descend upon you, or maybe you’re getting excited. There is something wonderful about the fresh start that comes along with a new semester: a chance to start anew, your slate wiped clean, brand new classes, and different activities to get involved with.
If you want things to go well this next semester, it’s important to start prepping ahead of time. While it may be tempting to keep binging on Netflix and spending long, leisurely Saturdays at Starbucks during your summer or winter break (although, we do advise one or two of these at some point), you’re going to want to get organized and start making some plans. We’ve put together a short list of some things you might want to start getting in order before the school year starts up again.
1. Take a look at your textbook list
Let’s face it: textbooks can be expensive! Not only that, but sometimes books are back ordered, or you have to purchase them from a very specific store. Whatever the hang up is, it’s important to start collecting your books well in advance of your first class. If you get going in July or early November, this assures you have plenty of time to take a peek at the textbook list online, and it enables you to start looking around for the best places to get your books.
Consider renting your textbooks instead of buying them, or consider buying used textbooks either on Amazon or from friends or acquaintances at college who have gone through the classes before you. If you want to avoid hundreds of dollars in cost, this is your best way to go. Get your books ahead of time so you avoid being that student who has to borrow a book from a classmate in order to do your homework that first week.
2. Get set up with a part-time job
If you think you have time in your schedule and are hoping to save a little money and have some cash on hand, looking for part-time work ahead of time can be very beneficial. Make sure you’re not overloading yourself, though. If you’re trying to work more than twelve hours a week while you’re taking an honors chemistry class (or four), you might find yourself too stressed out and too crunched for time to do well on your schoolwork.
Even working just 5 – 10 hours a week can help you have a bit of money to put away in a savings account or spend on the occasional fun outing with friends. If you keep a healthy budget, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the dollars can add up. Try to submit a few applications ahead of time before the big rush when students move back to town.
3. Sort out the details of room and board, as well as transportation
Whether you’re living on campus or off campus, planning a few months ahead about who you’re going to be living with and how you’re going to get around town is important. If you are assigned roommates, it’s a good idea to meet up with them beforehand to hash out who’s bringing the microwave, who will buy the rug for the living-room area, etc. Even if you’re not assigned roommates and you’re living with the same friends as last semester, it’s a good idea to talk about cleaning schedules, rent, or any other pertinent information that will need to be addressed for the new semester.
You’ll also want to figure out transportation: will you need a bus pass? Will you have your own car? What about purchasing a parking space? Figure out the options you have at your school and start making arrangements now, so you don’t get stuck with a parking space that’s a mile away from your room.
4. Look over your syllabi
Every professor is different, and every class has different requirements. If your professor puts class requirements up online, it might be a good idea to take a look ahead of time. This way, you’ll know if there are any very important things to note about your professor or essential thing you’ll need to bring to class. If you can’t locate a syllabus ahead of time, you can always reach out to your professor via email and request one.