College 101: A guide into a new semester

Mallory Pace, Government Reporter

Going into a new semester can be nerve-wracking, whether it’s your first or fifth. There seems to be a never-ending list of things to remember, where your classes are, what time they start, what supplies and textbooks are needed, and don’t forget those classes that expect an assignment to be turned in on the first day.  

But don’t fret. Here are a few gentle reminders and strategies to consider that might help make this new semester a little less stressful.  

One way to set yourself up for success is a daily planner. For one, writing down the details of your class schedule will help you avoid confusion. But a daily planner also gives students a space to plan and adjust their schedules accordingly. 

 Director of Student Academic Success Services (SASS), Dylan Charles, described the importance of being flexible at the start of a semester to create a realistic schedule.  

“Be flexible and adaptable to what strategies work best for each kind of course, between professors, between styles and classes. You have to approach them differently. There’s not a one size fits all,” Charles said.

back to school essentials
(Matt Ragland/Unsplash)

 As students get further into a semester, using a daily planner also allows them to plan out the amount of time certain activities or assignments usually take, so they can begin to learn what areas they should be giving less or more attention to. This can help with both time management skills and learning how to balance responsibilities.  

A simple planner from Walmart or Target will do the job just fine, but if you feel like splurging a bit, offers unique covers, a variety of content options, and personal customization for your planner. Some of their academic planners offer finance trackers, recipe ideas, and a section specifically for deadlines. 

 If you’re more digitally motivated, Google Calendar and The Planners Collective offer eloquently structured planners you can customize to your liking.  

Staying organized is a key factor to a successful semester, but buying a planner alone won’t guarantee good grades. Another necessity for a student’s new semester is their willingness to engage. 

“There’s not a single better predictor of college student’s success than engagement,” Charles said. 

He explained that engaging with professors, peers and other faculty can help students navigate which strategies work best for them by observing and learning what works well for their peers.  

Another necessary aspect of engagement involves students’ willingness to ask for help. It’s nearly impossible to try and go through a school year without any help, even if you don’t feel like you need or want it.  

UNF offers a wide variety of services for students to be aware of and utilize, including SASS, which offers tutoring for specific courses, as well as broader academic assistance like study skills, time management and more. Other academic resources at UNF include a writing and math center, career services and academic counseling.  

stack of books and an open notebook
(Debby Hudson/Unsplash)

Non-academic resources available include the Counseling Center, the Recreational and Wellness Center, Student Health Services and more. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the help and services UNF offers to maximize their learning and set themselves up for a bright future.    

While academic habits like studying and learning the material are vital to earning good grades, developing other habits outside of school is necessary for a successful semester. 

Charles explained how it’s common for students to want to avoid classes earlier in the day but getting into healthy habits like waking up early will benefit students later in life. Other healthy habits include the things students have already been told their whole life; eat well, exercise and get enough sleep.  

College is sometimes painted as a never-ending cycle of cramming to get things done, yet never seem to have enough time to do them all. But stress and burn-out can be avoided by giving yourself the time and grace to figure out what works for you and accepting that change may occur. It’s important to know you have the skills and resources to adapt to whatever may come. 

Remember that the beginning of a semester can sometimes be just as vital as the end. It’s important to go into a new chapter prepared with a positive mindset and flexibility for whatever curveballs may get thrown your way.


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