Relearning the basics

The semester has just gotten back into the familiar hum and buzz of classes and homework. This is the uncertain part of the semester where students are getting a feel for their classes and what the professors will expect of them in the coming months. The start of the spring semester requires relearning the lessons from last semester’s classes. After the holidays it is hard to go from negative four to one hundred percent back into the swing of being productive each day.

The beginning of the semester is a crucial time that is often overshadowed with the excitement of seeing new friends and the lingering holiday mindset that keeps students glued to their beds when the alarm tolls for their 8:30 class. This part of the semester is so important to students because the beginning is the easiest time to take big steps at getting ahead of the game before the endless cycle of homework and exams takes its toll. It is hard to hit the ground running after winter break, but you will be grateful later when midterms are making you regret there aren’t more hours in a day.

Start the semester with a good impression. You only get one chance at a good first impression, so make it the best one you can. It is easy to zone out in class and miss the recap and material you will use for the rest of the semester. Apply the same attitude you would have if your grade is down to the wire now, so that later one you can avoid that situation all together. Build up a bank of good grades early on when assignments are not all stacked on top of each other so that later in the semester, when push comes to shove, you will have a cushion to catch you if there is one of “those” weeks and you miss the mark on an assignment or two.

The beginning of the semester is also the time to implement habits that will keep you happy, healthy and much less stressed as the semester goes along. This is the time when you should apply yourself to the recap of information from last semester, and this gives you a chance at obtaining a higher grade with low effort. Learn the foundation of information, so that the rest of the material will have something to build on when more complex assignments come along. Doing well on the early assignments will set you up for success later on.

New habits are hard to start. It takes a week or two to make a new habit stick. Starting better habits at the beginning of the semester makes the whole process so much easier and you’re more likely to sustain them, as opposed to waiting until problems present themselves as a result of poor habits and force you to adjust. Adjusting after problems arise is more difficult, because you must first unlearn the old habits before beginning to enforce new, healthier habits. It will be hard to do at first, but the future will be so much smoother if you start off the semester by putting your best foot just a few steps ahead of the curve.

Once you get into the routine of good habits you won’t even realize it is happening. Take it from a senior, like I did: being kind to your future self is a decision you will never regret.