It is the beginning of February, and the Spring semester is well-underway for Rutgers students. Students are now becoming accustomed to their schedules, diving deep into their studies, and figuring out the fastest bus routes to each class. As a freshmen at Rutgers, getting into the routine of college was definitely a large adjustment, and at times even overwhelming. After the first semester swept past me faster than the bus at College Hall, I decided to look back at all I have learned and implement that for the new semester. It may seem challenging to buckle down back into the routine of work after a month of Winter Break, but there are steps you can take to make things a little easier.
Here are some “Keys to Success” that have helped me successfully kick my Spring Semester off to a fulfilling start:
1. Plan Ahead: Take a look at everything you can do during Winter Break for a smooth transition into the second semester. Generally, schedules are chosen and finalized before Winter Break even begins, so that gives you plenty of time to review your classes, figure out bus routes, and pick up any books you may need. Also, making a variety of alternate schedules, which can be done on the Course Schedule Planner, is a great way to have options if there comes a time where you want to switch classes. It is also a good time to finish any other work you need to get done, such as special projects, applications, or research for internships, that you may not be able to devote as much time to when school becomes more hectic. You can also use this time to research more clubs or activities you wish to do and find out about any interest meetings that will take place during the semester. When you come into class ultra-prepared, you will be able to get straight to work with little worry or distraction.
2. Make a Schedule: Managing time in college is absolutely essential, and for myself personally, I cannot do this without a physical or digital aid. By keeping a planner or online calendar, you will always know exactly where and what to do at a specific time, as long as you keep it updated. Being able to visually see your week laid out in front of you helps you to put in times for studying, going to the gym, clubs, etc. It can also always be used to refer to as well as updated whenever new events come around. Major Key: Take all the dates given on your syllabi for exams, projects, essays, etc. and put them in your calendar. This way, you will never be surprised by a creeping up deadline and can always plan ahead on your assignments.
3. Organize, Organize, Organize: One of the hardest things to do in college is to keep an organized lifestyle when so much is going on. Different organizational tactics, from keeping a neat dorm to keeping separate folders for all classes, will save time and make things more convenient when things are at their busiest. Taking a few minutes everyday to file papers from teachers and keeping your desk generally clear of clutter will save hours of running around looking for items in the future. Make sure you organize your time realistically between studying, hanging out, clubs, sports, etc., as the previous tip indicated. Between classes, clubs, and social events, things may seem a little muddled, so it is important that you stay as organized as possible and have control over everything.
4. Get Involved: Now, the words “Get Involved” may be a little cliche at Rutgers, but their message continues to be supreme. Whether you like dancing, politics, singing, art, or student advocacy, there is definitely a club at Rutgers for you. During the first two weeks of the semester is the perfect time to find out more about clubs you are interested in by attending interest meetings. Since the first two weeks are typically not too strenuous in terms of workload, you can afford to go to many interest meetings in a week to figure out which club or clubs you would want to be a part of. A recommended number of things to get heavily involved in is two, but it’s up to you to decide how much you can manage. Being part of activities outside of the classroom not only lets you explore something you’re interested in, but let’s you explore it in new ways while getting the chance to meet many others who share your passion.
5. Head-Start, it’s Never Too Early: One of the most important aspects of college life to always remember is to not fall behind on your studies. In college, it may seem as though you have endless time to do your work, but the time passes quicker than you can imagine. Sure, an assignment may not be due in two weeks, but two weeks will pass and five more additional assignments will have been assigned since then. To avoid procrastination problems, it is vital that you get a head start in all your classes within the first weeks of the semester. This means getting straight to work, getting reading done, beginning to make outlines for exams, etc. It may be difficult at first to get into the full college workload, but as the semester progresses you will realize how much easier it will be to manage everything that comes at you when you do work in advance.
6. Take Some Time for Yourself (Major Key): After you’ve color-coded your planner based on courses and finished your chapter of reading, set up time for yourself to unwind. Whether this means watching Netflix, working out, or playing Cards Against Humanity with your floor-mates, it’s very important that you avoid getting super stressed out and have some you-time. This will help you relax and reflect upon the start to your semester without taking things over the edge. Always save some free-and-me-time in your schedule, and getting work done in advance will help save some time to cut loose on the weekends guilt-free!
Whether you’re a high school student entering Rutgers or a senior in college, the start to the semester can always seem a little daunting. Hopefully with these tips, your journey to success can get off on a smooth start.