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Tips for Successful Start to a Semester

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Are you starting a new college semester with hopes to make it one of your best and most successful semesters yet? First of all, congratulations on starting college or returning for another semester! That is a huge accomplishment and I hope all my readers have an amazing semester.

Having a strong start can really make a big difference in how your semester will go. I loved starting each semester with a focus on getting my study, work, and personal routines locked in because this made things much easier once classes started getting harder and more time intense.

In today's blog I want to share some tips I have to help you all start your college semester off right! Let's get into it!

Tip #1 -Read Your Syllabus

One you should do at the beginning is read your syllabi for each class. What is a class syllabus? The syllabus is required for each of your professors to write and it gives you an overview of your course. The syllabus should include your assignments, exams, grading policies and your due dates.

My tip is to take time to put those due dates into your calendar now so it is easier to keep up with your exams and major assignments. This is especially important to see if you might have heavy exam weeks/days. I've had days where 3 exams fell on the same day, but by planning at the beginning of the semester I knew when this day was coming and could plan accordingly.

If you'd like tips on how to incorporate your syllabus and Canvas pages into your google calendar you can check out this video and plan your semester along with me!

Tip #2 - Figure out your study techniques

Did you know that there are different kinds of learning styles? You can be someone who works best with visual aids, auditory, reading & writing or kinesthetic. In addition your studying techniques from high school may not be enough for your college classes. I found that I needed to use slightly different study techniques for each of my courses, for example I studied differently for a more memorization based course like biology versus my application based calculus and chemistry courses.

You should take the first few weeks of the semester to focus in on what study techniques are going to work best for the classes in your schedule. Here are some techniques you can try and then use your performace on homework, quizzes, and the first exam to determine what is working best for you.

  • Reading the textbook or slides before class

  • Annotating slides during class

  • Going to office hours and tutoring sessions

  • Writing/typing summary sheets after lecture to condense information

  • Doing a practice set of questions after each lecture

  • Making flashcards

  • Watching YouTube videos to review the material

  • use old exams to practice as you learn the material

  • Study with classmates vs study alone

  • Create your own practice questions and testing yourself

  • Writing concepts on the white board

  • Record yourself explaining concepts or explain concepts to someone else

  • Type your notes versus writing your notes

These are just a few examples of the different techniques you can incorporate for each of your courses. If you would like more advice on how I personally studied in college you can view my webinar on studying and succeeding in college below:

I also have a number of blogs about my study techniques that you can read here:

Tip #3 - Introduce yourself to your professors

My next tip is to go to office hours in the first weeks of classes and introduce yourself to your professors. This can help you start to build a relationship and feel more comfortable reaching out to them later on when you need help with the course. Similarly, I suggest doing this with your teaching assistants.

Not sure what to say to your professor? Here are a couple ideas:

  • Share one or two things that you are excited for in this course.

  • You can also share if there is anything you are worried about and ask about what support may be available

  • Have a casual conversation about something you may have in common or one of their research topic's that interest you

  • Keep it short and sweet, introduce yourself and share that you plan to attend future office hours

Tip #4 - Find what resources are available to you

This tip is very important! You should take the start of the semester to find out what college/university resources are available to you. Remember that asking for help shows strength! I used resources whenever they were possible and often times there is more help than you would think!

If you attend University of Maryland like I did, here are some resources:

Personally, I used the Guided Study Sessions (GSS) for every course that offered it! These sessions are led by a student who did well in the course before you and they offer practice, review, and great resources!

Tip #5 - Figure out what support you need

Support and wellness are crucial to success. The start of the semester is the perfect time to reflect on what kind of support you may need to get through the semester. This includes talking with your support system (family, mentors, and friends) and sharing with them what the semester has in store for you and how you would like them to support you.

I am a huge supporter of planning out your self care! It is why I created the StyleByKye Balance planner. So I suggest writing out what self-care activities and hobbies you will have throughout the semester.

Remember that your wellness comes first...always!

Sometimes self-care is easier said than done, I found it more and more challenging as I got deeper into my pre-med studies. After hitting some really stressful moments I learned how to de-stress and balance more. In this vlog, I talked more about self-care in this vlog below:

Tip #6 - Plan, Prepare, and Succeed

My next tip is to get a good planner for your semester. If you didn't know, along with being a blogger I am a small business owner and design planners! My Fall 2022 digital planner is designed specifically for college students!

This planner includes pages that are created to help you prepare for college success such as semester planning, exam planning, habit tracking, semester goals and monthly goals, goal breakdown worksheets, weekly planning, budgeting, and more!

It is available in 3 different colors and you can shop and read more here:

Finally, don't forget to believe in yourself!

One of the most important aspects to having a successful semester is your mindset. One important mindset to have is a growth mindset. If you aren't familiar with this concept I suggest watching this TedTalk and doing other readings to find out how you can have a growth mindset. In short, having this mindset means that you are thinking of yourself as someone who has capacity to always grow and improve. Your failures (and yes we all have failures) are not a reflection of you who are as a person but instead are opportunities for growth!

I hope you will all enter this semester excited for all the opportunities to grow and learn! By the end of the semester, you will have more knowledge than you did coming into this semester!

I'm wishing you all the best!



About the blogger

From the island of Saint Martin, Kyeisha is an aspiring physician in her first year at Harvard Medical School. She is a lifestyle, fashion, and college blogger since 2015 where she shared her high school, college/pre-medical journey and now medical school life with some outfits ideas along the way!

Follow me on Instagram and TikTok

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