Dear Ally,

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Tabula Rasa

Dear Ally,

Happy New Year and Happy New Semester! I thought I’d offer some tips for getting the semester off to a good start.

  • Reflect on last semester. Think about what went well and what didn’t. What would you like to improve and how will you make sure it goes better this time?
  • Clean your room. Take Marie Kondo‘s advice and get rid of anything unnecessary that doesn’t “spark joy.” The less crap you have, the less stuff you’ll have to search through to find something. Send your summer clothes home. Sell the textbooks you’ll never open again.
  • Read the syllabi. Put professors’ contact information in your phone. Schedule class meeting times, exams, assignment due dates, and office hours into your calendar with built-in reminders. Make note of the required course materials and textbooks. Write down questions to ask the first day of class.
  • Get everything you’ll need. Buy your textbooks now to take advantage of used copies and on-line deals. If you don’t need it, you can always return it. Get a binder for each class and enough dividers to separate handouts, notes, homework, exams, etc. Mirror your hard copy organizational system with an electronic version, so you’ll know exactly where to save assignments as you work on them.
  • Plan out your schedule. Look at the entire semester. Set aside time for what’s most important first. Break up big assignments into small weekly goals. Carve out studying time for exams every day the entire week before. Be aware of and plan ahead for heavy weeks with multiple exams or papers due. Block out time to make sure that you get enough sleep and that you can go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. It’s important to schedule exercise and relaxation time as well.
  • Make a good first impression. I already talked about the last class and you should never skip the first class either, it’s the most important class. Sit near the front where you can see and won’t be as tempted to goof off or sleep. If you don’t know anyone in the class, introduce yourself to at least one person and get their contact info. Ask questions to make sure you understand what will be expected of you. If you still have questions, e-mail your professors. This first e-mail also serves as a “test e-mail” to ensure that you are reaching them.
  • Don’t forget to have a positive mindset! You can do it!

Wishing you all the best!

Aunt Sarah



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