Putting Your Best Foot Forward in the New School Year

By Caleigh Propes

The beginning of a new school year is a transition for everyone, especially after a summer off. Almost everyone around you will be concerned with research paper topics, professors, and pulling all-nighters before you know it. With a little bit of effort, though, you can start off the new year in a great spot just by following three simple steps. New year, new you!

1.   Create Good Academic Habits

It can be tempting to stay in bed with Netflix, or snack all night with your roomie who cuts class four days of the week. However, college is an important time for intellectual growth. You can start forming good academic habits as early as the first week of class! You won’t regret putting in the extra effort, and your GPA will reflect that.

To start, it is a good idea to introduce yourself to all of your professors for the semester. This can be after class wraps up or during their office hours—whichever feels more natural. A good handshake and a brief introduction can help distinguish you from other students, and you will be more likely to seek out help later if your know your professors. Meeting during office hours every week or every other week can be a great practice, too. Professors can help explain tricky concepts, provide homework guidance, point you to resources like peer tutors, and even write recommendation letters. Plus, most of them are pretty awesome and smart people who love their students, and they will appreciate your time as much as you appreciate theirs.

Aside from classwork, finding a great study spot can also help motivate you to be productive in your studies. This could be a coffee shop, library, common area, or even your room! The beginning of the year is a great time for you to discover what noise and activity level that you prefer so you can be as focused as possible for the rest of the year.

Citing as you write a paper—instead of after—is another good habit to pick up.

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2. Get Organized

While not purely academic, organization can really make your school life a lot easier to manage. Start with your room, and go through all of the items that you could donate or sell. If you haven’t worn a shirt in two years or have barely touched your Keurig coffee machine, then ditch it! You could give these to friends, drop them off at the local Goodwill, or even put them on your school’s Facebook exchange group to sell. Clean out your email inbox and your computer desktop of junk while you’re at it. Without so much clutter, your room will feel so much bigger. You will have so much more room to breathe and relax, too.

Aside from just your living space, organizing your school life can be really helpful as well. Paper planners are great for those who like to write things out, and Google calendars work for those who like to stay on their computers. A helpful planner exercise for the beginning of the school year is to write out all important dates for the year, including birthdays, exam dates (LSAT, MCAT, etc.), big events, school breaks, and other things that you know will come up. Consolidating all of this information while the school year is less busy will save you a lot of stress, and you can fill in assignments and more short-term dates as they come.

3. Take Care of Your Body and Mind

 Campus dining halls can be so tempting with their unlimited soft serve and pizza. However, keeping a good diet while you’re in college will make your body function so much better. All things are fine in moderation, but following a good diet will help you have more energy and get you through your day without crashing. Drink lots of water and eat your veggies; it might not be glamorous, but your body will be grateful. Carry around a water bottle in your backpack– this is a surefire way to remind you to drink more water.

Exercise is also important, as it can be easy to sit in class all day and sit in the library all night. Most schools have athletic centers with equipment for student use, and this can be a great spot to get your workout in. Many schools also offer dance classes, yoga classes, and cycling classes at no cost to students. Look into your options, and set a workout plan at the beginning of the semester so that you are more likely to follow through on your fitness goals!

Finally, sleep is crucial if you want to be a successful college student. While college is notoriously a place filled with sleep deprived young adults, you don’t have to stay up all night and play into the stereotype. Resting is really important for your well-being, and you will be able to focus on your work much more if you get a solid 8 hours. Think about turning off your devices before bed and disconnecting a little bit to get the most out of your sleep.

 As the school year approaches, be sure to keep these tips in mind so that you can navigate campus a little more smoothly. The first few weeks back always require changes and adjustments, but you can handle it like a champ if you set off on the right foot.


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