Learn your syllabi. Read the syllabus, then reread it to ensure you understand everything. If something is unclear or doesn’t make sense, ask the instructor. Instructors love answering questions and they may have made a mistake in the syllabus, in which case, you would be helping everyone in the class by clarifying it. Syllabi also have important dates for the semester such as exam dates, assignment due dates, essay due dates, etc. They will also have the grading breakdown, or how the instructor will grade you throughout the semester. This is all vital information that you should get familiar with at the beginning of the semester to get off to a good start.
Schedule your semester. Organization is key to a successful semester. Schedule out your semester with all your important due dates and exam dates. The syllabus is important because it gives you all the dates, but you have to compile it into one schedule with the due dates for all classes so you can stay on top of your game. But you can’t only focus on school, you have to balance other responsibilities and be able to have fun, too. Schedule in time for when you are going to study and time for when you are going to relax or hang out with friends. It’s important to have a good balance between school life and social life. Both are needed to make the most successful and enjoyable semester.
Set goals. Goals help you realize what you want to achieve during the semester. But when you set these goals, make sure they are “SMART goals.” SMART is an acronym for goal setting. S means specific. Your goal has to be specific and not vague so you can tell whether or not it was actually accomplished. M stands for measurable. You can assign due dates so it is clear whether or not you achieved it. A represents attainable. The goal must be possible or within reach, not a fantasy or a dream. R symbolizes realistic. The goal must be realistic and possible with the resources available to you. T signifies time based. There must be enough time to achieve the goal but not an excessive amount in which time was wasted. An example of a SMART goal could be to get an A in one of your classes, i.e. statistics. It’s specific because you set the goal for that specific class. It’s measurable because you can track your progress throughout the semester. If you work hard and prioritize this class over other stuff that may be distracting, it can be attainable. UNO wants you, the student, to succeed. This is realistic goal because you are provided all the resources you need to succeed, as long as you take advantage of them. It is time-based because at the end of the semester you will have a grade no matter what, whether it is the grade you wanted or not.
Create healthy habits and patterns. Go to bed at a decent time so you can get plenty of rest before a long day of classes. Sleep can go a long way. Commit to your classes. Attend all your classes on a regular basis. Don’t start off the semester skipping classes. That just leaves the professor with a bad first impression. Focus on school. College is filled with a lot of distractions but in order to succeed, you need to be able to manage your time wisely and prioritize what’s most important. Many students view college as a time away from their parents and their parents' rules; they are finally able to do whatever they want whenever they want. This is true, but it also means the burden of responsibility is now more on you. Make good decisions and start good patterns early in the semester, as you are in control of your time.
For more tips on how to start your semester on the right foot, attend the Mapping Your Semester workshop on January 18, 2017 at 2:30 P.M. in Criss Library Room 112.
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