It’s official… summer is over! Time for back to school shopping, setting those early alarms, Starbucks study sessions, and 8 hour lectures. Everyone has their ways of preparing for the upcoming semester and school year. This is my *final semester of nursing school. It’s crazy because this is my last semester of preparing for a busy next few months of studying, clinicals, working and practicing in the skills lab. I’ve learned to master organization and preparing (both mentally and physically) for school. College is hard and depending on your major, professors throw all sorts of assignments at you that they expect you do complete thoroughly and on time, on top of everything else you need to get done as a student and as a human being. Making sure that you get into the school mentality early and prepare for the upcoming semester, you can expect to be much more successful and feel a lot less like you are dying.
A successful semester for me is going to look completely different than a successful semester for anyone else. Before beginning anything (work, school, a new task) you have to determine what your goals are for that particular thing! I have a blog post about my current goals which you can read here, and also why I make goals along with why anyone should make goals. Goals are very important as they are a guide to why you do certain things.
Preparing for the Upcoming Semester
Before doing anything you have to determine your goals. Not only should you write down your goals, but ask yourself:
What do I need to do in order to achieve my goals?
Create clear steps that you can take in order to achieve your goals. Every morning I wake up and I basically figure out what it is that I want to accomplish with my day. Once I do that, I figure out how I am going to that and usually the first step I need to take in order to accomplish anything, is C O F F E E! Once I do that, I am ready to work, or study, or blog, or drive to the beach to relax (or whatever it is that you want to do)! Sometimes it helps a lot to write down your goals, also. Whatever it is that helps you accomplish your goals, do it, because establishing goals before you even go into the semester is good.
2. Buy a planner!
I wish I had done this much sooner! There are SO many different ways to organize dates via apps, calendars, planners, or with your phone! Everyone organizes dates differently and on different platforms. Whatever works for you, please do that! I prefer to have my dates written out in a planner, but I also keep dates on my phone calendar just in case I over look something in my planner so my phone will update me with that information! Over the course of a semester, professors will throw so many different dates and assignments at you that it is essential to have dates somewhere as a reminder. You never want to be late with assignments, because it truly can be detrimental to your grade.
3. Utilize the syllabus!
Over the course of my last 2 years in the nursing program, my professors opened up the class and the syllabus online 1 week prior to the date of class starting so we can look at the information in preparation for the semester. By doing this, it allowed me to look at when every assignment is due so I can put it in my planner/calendar. Utitlize the syllabus for course rules, special dates, and professor contact information so that if you have any questions or concerns you know who to contact and when.
4. Get in school- mode early.
Okay so you have your planner, and you put dates in it all before the semester actually begins. You are already ahead of the game! With that being said, get yourself in school mode about a week prior to the semester starting! This looks different for every person. I went and got my school books 1 week prior to the semester starting and started reading the material we learn the first day of class so that I was prepared for what we will learn that first week. Some people don’t want to read or sit down and go over anything before the first day of class, that’s totally okay. For you, that might mean trying to relax and go to bed early or get up early to prepare for the semester. Some people don’t want to do that either. It’s really personal how people prepare for that first week of school, whether you study early or not, so figure out what works for you and do that because I want everyone to succeed!
Study Buddies vs. Flyin’ Solo
Completely personal choice that you should also determine is best for you: do you study better with a friend or by yourself?!
Everyone is different and functions differently. I, personally, am an independent learner and an independent studyer. I get distracted by other people and I don’t like when people spend foreverrrr on a topic that I feel like I have mastered. I like to study at my own speed, and my own content, so I personally don’t like studying with people. I did not figure this out about myself until I basically failed my first semester of nursing school because I had a study group (never again). Figure out how you function best and if you like a study buddy, then find someone that will help you succeed!
5. Self Care
Self care is incredibly important. Outside of working, studying, waking up early to go to class, we have to make ourselves and our self care a priority. Taking care of yourself helps you function better in every area of your life. Taking care of yourself means taking time to yourself to do the things you love and get away from all the things that may be causing you stress. I wrote a blog post about self care here, that I encourage everyone to check out. Even if you are doing the things you love, you still need to take care of yourself.