OPINION: How to start the semester out strong


Megan Fisher

Christina West, Commentary writer

Nothing screams fresh starts like the spring semester. There is a new set of classes for you to start with zeal and a bit of cautious optimism. That being said, returning from the holiday break can seem dreadful after a prolonged period of relaxation with your loved ones. 

Here are some ideas for starting out the spring semester strong so you can feel mentally prepared for the early days of a new term. 

Clean and organize your workspace 

My desk doubles as a place to study and a vanity — sometimes even a dinner table. It can quickly become cluttered and disorganized, which makes me feel stressed and overwhelmed before I even sit down at it. Keeping a clean space will help you go into the new term feeling calmer and more focused. 

I do not advocate solving problems through buying things, but I do find that my new multicolored keyboard brings me more joy to use and entices motivation. Adding little things that make your work environment cheerful can make you feel more excited to get things done, so if you think new gel pens, highlighters or a cute planner will help, go ahead and get it! 

Consider Google Calendar or a planner 

I’m not the first person to shill the importance of a planner and I certainly won’t be the last.

Google Calendar is something I recently started using after resisting digital planners for a long time, but so far I’ve been really enjoying it. There are separate distinctions for events, tasks and reminders which will send notifications to your phone. You can even color code for different classes or other involvements you have. 

I still enjoy using a physical planner as well. I find that it’s easier to open it and check things off in a space that isn’t tucked away on a device. Using both is a great yin-yang balance, but if you’re more of a digital fan or vice versa, choose your favorite method. 

Some people advise writing out all due dates in advance based on a syllabus or class schedule; however, this is something I wouldn’t recommend. While it makes sense to lay it all out at once, it is extremely common for professors to change due dates because of snow days or other reasons. I find that writing out the current week and one week ahead is more flexible and still shows me what is ahead. 

Set goals

What do you want to accomplish most this semester? Maybe you want to network so you plan to attend a career fair. Now is a great time to do something you wanted to do last term but didn’t get a chance to do, such as joining a club. Be realistic and manage your expectations, goals do not have to be lavish. Anything that is challenging enough but also very specific should help with your personal, academic or professional development. 

Wake up early (enough)

It’s easy to delay waking hours when you aren’t in the swing of things yet. I have a habit of waking up at the latest possible time to finish up that wild dream, but I end up regretting it when I have to throw on clothes and run out the door. 

I loathe when motivational speakers try to tell me to wake up at 4 a.m., but there is still merit to waking up early enough so there is ample time to eat breakfast, drink coffee and do your hygiene routine. I also feel more refreshed and less anxious when I allow myself plenty of time for commuting and walking to class. 

I hope the semester is going well for you so far, but rocky starts are normal as well. Remember it’s not as bad as you think it will be. You don’t have to be perfect, and your best is good enough. Your worth is not defined by your productivity. 

Commentary writer Christina West can be reached at [email protected].