6 Tips for the Perfect Start to Your First Semester

When starting a new semester, especially at the beginning of an academic year, there is a fear that can be found in all students of being unprepared for what lies ahead, both socially and educationally. For those that are about to start university, the next few months will involve meeting a whole host of new people, getting to know them, your course, and yourself better, as well as for many studying independently and living without parents for the first time. So, to settle some nerves and to give you the best head start when beginning a course, the next six articles in this series will each detail one simple thing you can do to make that first semester easier.

1. Get organised

Studying at university or any higher education institution is usually the first time students are given full freedom and power over their life. This also means it is the first time they are completely in charge of their own money, and where it ends up going. But, with great power comes great responsibility, and the common story is at least one person in a group burning through their student loan in the first few weeks.

In the first article, I will talk about how to get organised with what important documents you should make sure you have with you when you are at university, but also ways of getting organised with your finances. It doesn’t matter what year you are going into, it’s worth knowing how to construct a winning budget (and how to keep to it). For those of us who are starting a new year of a course we are already into, I’ll talk about how to deal with last year’s accounts to help this year’s.

2. Hit the ground running

There is a common misconception that the four month summer in between academic years is free time to do whatever you want, and that you only have to start working when you start term. Whilst this may be true to a degree, this time can be used to get ahead of your studies, giving you more time during the term to relax when others can’t. Without wanting to do too much or not properly enjoy the summer, in the second article I will talk about ways of preparing for your upcoming studies with some light work that will mean you can hit the ground running, and not be left to struggle.

3. Do your research

Many individuals starting courses have a whole host of questions, wonders and fears, all of which are left unanswered until day one. Without bothering the admissions office with a barrage of questions, there are people who you can reach out to, and websites you can visit, to give you a better idea of what you have got yourself in for. In the third article, I will talk about the people you should talk to and network with, who to reach out to within the university, and how to start understanding what lies ahead on the course. For those of us already at university, I’ll talk about some ways that you can keep in touch with university friends during the summer break.

4. To pack, or not to pack, that is the question

Many people have to leave home when starting their first semester in higher education, and that involves an abundance of luggage. However, being the first time that many students have lived away from home, the only packing experience they will have had will have been for holidays and sleepovers, so when it comes to what to pack and what not to pack, we often make mistakes in our first year.

In the fourth article, I will explain why there are some things that you think you may need but actually don’t – which can free up space in your suitcase – as well as some things that many of us forget or overlook when packing, and find we need when we get there.

5. Invest in your Diary

Students are notorious for being the most disorganised people on the planet. Part of that freedom is deciding what to do and when to do it, but it also means being responsible for turning up on time to timetabled items. In the fifth article, I will explore some ideas of how to keep track of your agenda throughout uni, and how to make sure you stick to it as well as possible.

6. Pace yourself

There are two types of temptation in the first semester of any year, depending on what type of person you are. One temptation is to work as hard as possible, the other is to slack off and have a good time. Both temptations will lead you astray in different ways. The first semester is all about keeping on track with your studies, but making sure you find a good friendship circle and have a strong social life. In the final article of the series I will explore ways to keep a good work/life balance that you can take all the way through to the world of work.



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