Summer is off to a fine (if wet) start, and it’s already almost July. It won’t be that long until September 1st is upon us and we are into the fall semester. So, what can you do now to start getting ready and make that last burst of summer a little more fun and a little less stressful?
1. Check your course schedule – Are you registered for everything you need? Have any of your courses been canceled or moved? Do you need to retake or finish any spring courses and thus the fall schedule needs to be adjusted?
2. Check your financing – Have you applied for or accepted all of the aid for which you are eligible? Have you thought through how to pay for the remainder and set up any transfers between accounts that might be needed to do so?
3. Start buying books and supplies – Many classes will have the texts listed with the college bookstore, and that’s a great option for convenience. But, you also may find that it suits your needs more to buy/borrow them elsewhere; however that takes more time, so don’t wait until the last minute. Some supplies will have to wait until the term starts, but the general items you can get now. What do you need (notebooks, pens, paper, highlighters, etc.)? What changes should you make in your supplies from last year to help you organize better (a day planner page in each notebook, color coordination for classes, etc.)?
4. Sort through your dorm/apartment supplies to see what you need to purchase for this year. If you start now, it’s easier to find sales on things like towels, blankets, fans, toiletries, etc. At the last minute, the prices may be higher and the selection more sparse.
5. Once you figure out what you need, buy some big plastic bins and start packing! Think how much easier it will be if you aren’t shoving stuff into garbage bags on August 31st.
6. Organize your contact list and back it up somewhere. Be sure it includes the name and number of your academic advisor, a friend or two that you can call on for an emergency ride to/from campus, your housing office, the registrar and bursar’s office, your doctor, etc.
7. Sort your computer files, delete the old or unused items to make more space, back up everything else (having it on discs and a flash drive or your university drive is a good idea), and perform routine system maintenance (defragment your drive, empty the recycle/trash bin, etc.).
8. Plot out your schedule for each week so that you have a sense of when you will have time for things like exercise, meals, grocery trips, library work, etc. If you plan in time for exercise and meals, you are more likely to have healthy habits when the semester starts and less likely to be shoveling a Snickers bar and a bag of Fritos into your mouth between classes.
9. Brush up on the skills that you know you find difficult. Are you a poor note taker? Do some reading about note taking strategies. Is math your downfall, and you have an accounting course scheduled for fall? Pick up/borrow a “learn at home” math text and work through some of it. Do you find it difficult to read scholarly work? Download a couple of articles from the library site and work through them slowly, coming up with some strategies about what might work for you (e.g. I find it easiest to read the intro, methods, discussion, and then go back to the findings). Is writing your challenge? There are plenty of great online tutorials about writing that can help you brush up on your skills and use of formatting and styles before the semester starts.
10. Relax, enjoy the weather, see some live music, go to the beach, take a walk! Don’t let your summer pass in front of a computer screen reading exciting blogs like this one. Get out there and have a nice time and get yourself in a good frame of mind to start the new year.