Its August and that means school is starting up again soon! Preparing for a new semester can get hectic especially if you’re still in vacation mode. Start preparing now a little at a time so when the first day rolls around, you’ve got everything in control! Here’s a rough checklist to keep you on track!
If you haven’t already, register for classes! So many students put off registering until the week before school starts but by this time, all the good classes at great times taught by awesome professors are full. Crafting a great schedule could make or break your semester so make sure you do your research and meet with your advisors.
Since my first semester of college, I’ve kept a spreadsheet of my course hours and I use it to track the classes I’ve taken, the grades I made, and the classes I still need. I’ve even broken it down further and split up my remaining courses into different semesters leading up to graduation. This way, when it comes to registration, I can pull up my spreadsheet and know exactly which classes to register for.
Applying for FAFSA
Many students rely on financial aid to pay for most, if not all, of their school expenses. If you rely on FAFSA, make sure you apply as soon as possible. Visit the FAFSA website here.
If you’re planning to live on campus, packing your things and moving in should probably one of your top priorities. If this is your first semester living away from home, you’re probably already stressed about leaving your friends and family behind for a couple of months. Get a handle on the stresses of moving by creating a moving checklist. Categorize essentials, things you need to purchase now, and things you can probably purchase once you’re there (to save on space). There are tons of premade packing and moving checklists available online like this one from College Board.
Look, cleaning isn’t fun for most people. But organizing and going through your belongings before school starts make your day to day activities a whole lot easier. It allows you to take inventory of what you do (or don’t) have so when you go back to school shopping, you buy things that you actually need. Assess your closet and make sure you have essentials like socks and undershirts. Go through drawers and bins and collect all your pens and pencils and you might not even have to buy any more. Clear out old class folders and binders and reuse them.
Find or Create the Perfect Planner
Learn to get organized by using a planner. There are so many options and designs to choose from that can really help you stay on track. I always strayed away from traditional planners because I could never find one that fit my needs that’s also in my price range. If you’re anything like me, maybe you can try your hand at bullet journaling. You can personalize your own subheadings with a mood tracker, affirmations, goals, important dates, to-do lists, and many more!
Plan a Self Care Day
Usually, when you think of back to school checklists, you don’t think about self-care but for me, its probably the most important thing on my list. When school rolls around, I get stressed fast and easy so I make sure I’m in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually before the first day of classes. Find the activities that relax you and take a day to enjoy yourself. For me, this means going on a detox (to purge my system of overall summer unhealthiness), booking a massage, getting my nails done, doing an at-home spa facial, and writing an emotionally and spiritually charged journal entry. To each their own.
Creating a Budget
No doubt about it, I spend more money when I’m in school. I have a reason to be out of the house almost every day, and it’s tempting to buy instead of make. Buying a coffee 4 times a week for the whole semester is easily $200-$300, now imagine if you’re also spending on lunch every day – keeping a tight reign on your spending habits can be daunting but you could make it easier by setting a budget.
Fix Your Sleeping Schedule
The days of staying up late and binge-watching Netflix are almost over – it’s time to fix your circadian rhythm. This can be hard if you’re a night owl plagued by insomnia, so I suggest starting off small. Figure out when your body starts to get tired and turn out your light, tv, and other distracting devices 30 minutes earlier. The next night, try doing it an hour earlier and so on. If this method doesn’t work, I usually force myself awake no matter how much sleep I got the night before which pretty much ensures I’ll be knocked out at a decent hour later on. If all else fails, there are many sleeping aids on the market. If you’re wary of becoming overly dependent on sleeping aids or waking up with a “Nyquil hangover”, melatonin is a great alternative.
Get a Head Start
Working at a college textbook store has given me a lot of insight into the minds of college students. When customers come in, they usually aren’t familiarized with their schedule. Take some time before school starts to get ahead. Try to find the online syllabus to figure out what you need to be prepared for (and whether or not that textbook you weren’t planning to get might actually be worth renting). Try to mentally prepare for each class and make sure you’re not blind-sided by a much heavier course load than you were intending. Another great way to get a rough idea of how your classes might go is through RateMyProfessors.
Jump Start Your Brain
Not that you haven’t been using your brain all summer, but you might not have been engaging in as much active thinking, reading, and listening. Jump start your mind by engaging in activities that can simulate class time. Watch interesting TEDtalks or documentaries that will help simulate listening to a lecture and take note of when you find yourself zoning out. Do some light to medium reading to get you back into the swing of reading chapters upon chapters from your textbook.
Figure Out What Textbooks You Need
Purchasing textbooks is one of those things you have to time just right. You don’t want to buy them too early in case your professor changes titles and you don’t want to buy them too late in case the title goes out of stock. Check your online syllabus and start looking at prices and package options now. Keep in mind that prices might change, but it should still be in the rough ballpark. You can always buy or rent your textbooks in advance and return them for a refund as long as it’s within the refund window and it’s still in the same condition. If you don’t want to take a chance, always ask your professor on the first day of class for confirmation of the book title, edition, and/or ISBN and order your book as soon as possible.
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