10 Ways to Prepare for a Successful Academic Year

[This is #1 of Back To School Series.]

Got excited about going to back to school and college? While you may feel a bit dreadful, We are here to make the process much easier. With Agusut’s Back To School Series, we are going to present to you a bunch of posts that are going to be very helpful.

To start off, here are 10 things that you can, and probably should do (or at least think about) before starting a new school year to get yourself prepared for it. Most of these are highly related to getting organized (and we all know how fundamental it is to be organized for a new year – it is a way to give yourself a clear mind and the first step to be productive).

I will also talk about some of the things mentioned in depth in future posts of Back To School Series, so make sure to stay tuned.

Having that said, let’s get started.

1. Tidy your books and notes from the previous semester, and Make Your Study Space Clean and Organized.

A decluttered desk is important to give yourself a clear mind. It allows you to be more productive, and you can easily get to work once you know exactly where everything is. That being the case, you should definitely first organize and tidy up your old notes and books that you are sure that you won’t use them in the future (or at least for this year).

If you still have clutters on your desk that belongs to last year’s classes or even previous years, this should be the time for you to clean them and clear them out of your way. If you don’t want to throw them away, you may use some storage boxes to keep them. I put the storage boxes under my bed and in the closet. This way, you will have a much cleaner study space, and things that are on the desk are only things that you actually need.

Besides, you can also just scan them or take pictures of your work/essays and exams if you like, if you intend to throw them away but still want to keep a copy. Make things digital is a great way to save space.

If you don’t have a study space, or you want to recreate one, you should start now. A study space is great because you can separate studying from other activities, like sleeping, television and more, and so you can focus better on working when you actually need to study. This prevents you from getting distracted, and it is like telling your mind that “you have to study now”.


2. Start your planner, and create your class schedule.

If you don’t have a planner yet, or your planner ends on summer, then you should probably start searching for one and start it. You can also use the daily and weekly printables we have here, which are specifically designed for students. Once you have got your planner, here are a few things you should do.

  • Create your own scheme. It can be color-coding, or it can be different symbols. Make your planner suitable and accostumed to your own needs.
  • Mark down the important dates listed on your school’s website on your planner.
  • Mark your class schedule.
    • I personally love to separate that from my planner, and have a separate piece of paper displaying my schedule. I do this in Excel, but you can easily find tons of free websites online for this purpose.
  • If you have your course syllabus you can add in your exam dates and assignment deadlines etc.

If you are still at the stage of planning your classes, and struggling on how to prioritise your classes, you may want to read this article on Tips for Choosing Your Classes and Arranging Your Schedule.


3. Contact your advisors and professors.

Send an email to your academic advisory or professor (if you know who is teaching your courses). It is always good to leave a good impression.

  • Try to ask them if there is anything to prepare for
  • talk about your plan with the course / your academic plan.
  • Ask them if there is anything you should read beforehand
  • Ask them about how to study this course effectively


4. Check if you have all your school supplies, and build your own organization plan.

School supplies shopping is always the best part of back to school. I recommend writing a list first for your reference, and follow the list to purchase everything so that you won’t miss any.

Meanwhile, remember to think about your own organisation plan. You should think about how you would take notes in class, what notebook you should use for each class, how to store your papers and more. This is when you devise a plan on how to study and get organized for the next year. I will talk about this in the next few posts by sharing my organization plan.


5. Check if you have purchased the textbooks that you already know you have to use for the next semester.

It is always a good idea to start buying your textbook early if you want to have good deals on them. So, make sure to check early if you can get them on these websites that offer free textbooks.


6. Set out your semester goals

By now, you should sit down and think about what you want to achieve in the next semester. In college, there are a lot of options and it is really up to you on what you can do during the year and what ou can achieve. Do you want to volunteer more? Participate in internship? Get a better GPA? Or network with some professors?

Setting semester goals will be able to guide you through the year and would help you to make the choice of what to participate in and join. You can write them down in a jounal, or a blank piece of paper. Make sure to put it in a visible place so to constantly remind you of your goals.

Remember, a goal should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound


7. Start a Journal

This year, I decided to start a journal. I was always more of a technology person, and I love having everything on computer. But then I realize that things start to get messy and all over the place as time goes, and I have forgotten my tasks a lot of times. I will go a lot in depth on my journal in later posts, but here is what I note down:

  • My goals
  • My college and work plans
  • My monthly tasks and overview of monthly schedule
  • What I have done and accomplished
  • What I have read about and learnt

Starting a journal is a great way to remember things and ger organized, as you can keep track of your tasks. Consider starting a journal this year to make your life easier!


8. Build your profile

There is no too soon in building your profile. Updating your LinkedIn and your resume is very important. Why not take this time and start doing that? You would find it so much easier to apply for jobs, and you can easily just send others the updated CV. Unsure what to put on your CV? No worries, this will give you some inspriation.

My advice is to just update it regularly. Once you have done or accomplished something, update both your cv and LinkedIn. This is going to help you in a long run.

If you want to go one step further and develop your own website, you can definitely start doing this. Here is a guide on how to build your personal website by CollegeInfoGeek, which will effectively guide you through every step.


9.Think about your extra-curricular plans

It is always a good idea to keep your eyes on some extra-curricular activities, like volunteer and internships. In college, you will find yourself having a lot more free time if you only focus on studying. Thus, a lot of students would opt for somome other activities like clubs and sports, and not only can you learn and build up some new skills, you can also meet tons of friends with similar interests. You may also choose some clubs or jobs or volunteering that are favorable to your career plan, so that you can later on show your employer that you are really interested in this field and you have gained some related experience.


10. Relax, and take care of your health

Remember, while school and work is important, your health iGeneral Settingss way more important. Grades don’t define you, and there is definitely no point of stressing yourself out. I have heard that “if you are working for something too hard, you aren’t doing it right”. For example, if you work really hard on cramming for your exams, and you spent so much effort in it, that is not right. Understanding the content and the gist of it makes the whole process much easier, and of course, you will receive a bette return as well.

In other words, you shouldn’t feel completely stressed out and torn by school. I am not saying that it is a completely smooth process either, but things shouldn’t be way harder than what you can manage. If that is the case, you should start talking to your peers and advisers. They may be able to provide you with ideas and ways to ease your burden.

1 Comment

  • Good idea to fill in your planner as much as possible before the pell-mell of the semester begins. Life runs more smoothly when you're organised!

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