It’s just about that time again – the start of a new college semester. Whether you’re in your first year of school or your last, new semesters are a great way to start fresh and try something new.

When it comes to college and university though, staying organized can make a huge difference. It’s been shown that staying organized can actually lower stress levels as you don’t have to worry so much about scrambling in everyday situations. Plus, nothing is worse than being a few days into the semester and already feeling like you’re falling behind. So, here are ten ways for starting your college semester off on the right foot.  

Tips for starting off your college semester:

1. Make some goals for the semester

A great way to start your college semester is to make a list of goals that you want to accomplish in the next few months. These goals can be academic (i.e. getting As in all your courses), personal (i.e. learn a new skill), health-related (i.e. workout twice a week), career (i.e. find a job or internship) or even spiritual (i.e. meditate daily). It’s really up to you. Make some goals, write them down on a piece of paper, and rather than throwing the note in a junk drawer where you will most likely forget about it, put it somewhere where you can look at it often like your desk so it’s a nice reminder of what you want to get done this semester. 

2. Go over the syllabi

Go over your syllabi. Then go over it again. And again. Even though your courses’ syllabi may not be the most exciting thing to read in the world, going over it can make a world’s difference. Usually, your profs will review it in class, but it’s worth going over it on your own time.   

3. Write down your deadlines

Right from the get-go, write down your deadlines for everything – projects, assignments, essays, everything. Whether you like writing things down in a planner or prefer scheduling everything in a digital calendar, writing out your deadlines early on will save you so much stress later down the line. Because really, what sounds more stressful – an essay that’s worth 40% of your grade that you discover is due in three days and now have to scramble to write or an essay that you knew about in advance that you can spend lots of time working on with way less pressure? Yeah, that’s what I thought. 

4. Get your textbooks and supplies

From textbooks to stationery, get the right tools and supplies you need early on to start your semester off on the right track. Because nothing is worse than not buying textbooks at the start of the semester and then, completely panicked, having to go hunt for them when midterm exam time rolls around.  Pro-tip though: don’t buy your textbooks until AFTER you go to the first class. Unless it’s a mandatory course, there’s a chance you might not like the course and might want to switch to another one instead, leaving you stuck with textbooks for a class you’re no longer taking. So save some time and money and wait until the first lecture before textbook shopping.  

5. Scout out your classes ahead of time

Whether you’re in your first year or your last, when it comes to finding your courses, nothing is worse than being stressed and overwhelmed on your first day because you’re late and got lost when looking for your course’s lecture hall. That’s why it’s worth checking out exactly where your classes are located ahead of time, especially if you’ve never been in a specific building or a certain part of campus. If you’re taking online classes, figure out ahead of time exactly how to access the online lecture before the class starts so you’re not scrambling on the day of.

6. Make a schedule

After writing out all your deadlines, make a schedule. This can help you see how you’re spending your time every week. You can write it down in a planner or use a digital scheduling app like Google Calendar, whatever works for you. This can include everything from your lectures to your study sessions to your part-time job work shifts to your club meetings. It doesn’t have to be super rigid or anything, things come up and plans change, but just having an idea of what your schedule looks like every week can help you feel more prepared to tackle the week. 

7. Build a routine 

While scrolling through Instagram before bed might be your go-to way to vedge out right now, another great way to start a new college semester is to build a solid morning and night routine. This doesn’t mean you need to spend three hours working on morning pages every day or whatever, but finding some small things that can help you start and end your day can make all the difference. Morning and night routines look different for everybody, but a few ideas you can try include journaling, drinking water, meditating, reciting positive affirmations, and reading. But again, it’s about what you like and what works for you. 

8. Do some meal prep 

This won’t apply so much if you live in a dorm or at home, but if you’re living on your own, start your college semester off by doing some meal prep. Before school get too busy, get some groceries, make some healthy meals, and store them in your freezer. That way, you will have lots of meals that you can pull out as needed and you won’t need to cook or resort to takeout all the time. Because when midterm season rolls around, trust me, meal prep will be the last thing on your mind.   

9. Make a budget 

While not the most fun thing in the world, making a budget can help you keep track of your money. Even though it’s obviously way more fun to spend lots on mini shopping sprees and drinks at the bar, having a budget as a student is important as it holds you accountable for every dollar you spend. So whether you would rather write it down or use a digital spreadsheet, start the semester with a fixed budget every month and keep track of how you’re spending your money. 

10. Freshen up your space 

With the start of a new semester, it’s time to make your space fresh and new too. You don’t have to do anything too crazy like painting your bedroom walls or something but just finding ways to make your space feel new, clean and organized can help you feel like your starting your college semester off on the right track. This could include decluttering your closet, organizing your desk or even buying a new little something for your room such as a poster or a plant. 

Final thoughts on prepping for your college semester:

While your college semester will no doubt get hectic at one point or another, with these ten tips, you can start the semester off right and set yourself up with success.