Don’t Just Survive, Thrive! 4 Back-to-School Tips for Your Best Year Ever

Returning to school after the summer months can be a difficult adjustment for even the most prepared students. But it isn’t just the end of summer; it can also be the beginning of your best year yet.

In fact, the start of the new school year is the perfect time to re-evaluate your academic goals and make a plan to achieve them. How well you prepare will influence how easily you meet your goals this semester. Here are four back-to-school tips to help you start off on the right foot and have your best semester ever.

1. Choose the Right Courses for You

Many universities offer “add” and “drop” periods at the beginning of each semester so that students can make last-minute changes to their schedule. This period is a great time to sit in on classes that interest you—and fit them into your schedule, if you choose—while staying on track to graduate.

This way, you can get a feel for each professor’s expectations and class structure to find the best courses for you. Get in touch with your academic advisor if you’re thinking of making a change to your selected courses; they can confirm if making the switch makes sense based on your academic goals.

2. Plan Out the Semester From the Beginning

Don’t have a planner yet? Now is the time to invest in one. Find a notebook you’ll be happy to carry to all of your classes, or use a digital calendar system that works for you.

Once you have your schedule finalized, be sure to read your syllabus and make sure you understand your professor’s expectations for the class. After reading it through, mark all exam dates and deadlines for papers, presentations, and assignments on your calendar. If you have your deadlines written down, it’s harder to forget about them or fall into the trap of procrastinating until the last minute.

Don’t throw that syllabus away, though! Keep it on hand as a guideline to refer to throughout the semester whenever you have a paper or assignment. Professors usually outline what they expect from students’ work, so following those guidelines can help you receive better grades.

3. Study a Little Every Day

In order to have a smoother year at college, don’t fall into the habit of putting off studying. While planning out your semester, set a daily schedule that includes time to study and review your notes after class. Try to complete your assignments well before the deadline and do some reading before class to be better prepared. It may be hard to get into the studying mindset after a carefree summer, but by doing a little bit every day, you’ll be better prepared when the first exam rolls around.

4. Find a New Way to Get Involved

College success doesn’t just mean getting top grades; it’s also important to have an enjoyable, well-rounded experience that helps you to grow as a person. Whether or not you’ve participated in campus sports, clubs, or other activities before, now’s the time to explore your options.

The start of the new school year is the perfect time to try a new club or activity, as many will be actively looking for new members and it’s easier to find a way to fit them into your schedule before you get settled into a routine. Not to mention, joining a club is a wonderful way to get involved on campus and meet new people.

Although summer is a great time to relax and take a well-deserved break from the college workload, these back-to-school tips can help you prepare for a successful year at college—and make it your best one yet.