4 Academic To-Do's for This Semester

If you’re like many students, you rely on some version of a list to make the most of your semester. This may occur in the form of a calendar, a reminder on your smartphone, or a handful of yellow post-its. No matter what form your list takes, it is an important way to organize your academic life – or at least narrow the focus of your priorities.

Now is the perfect time to establish your goals for the semester. Here are four academic to-do’s to keep in mind for this semester – and how to achieve them:

1. Set academic goals

One of the hardest parts of academic success is focus. Begin your semester by identifying goals you’d like to achieve this semester. Write them down so you’re more likely to work toward them. Find ways to hold yourself accountable and stay focused throughout the semester. However, it is important to keep your goals realistic. Earning a 36 on the ACT is ideal, but a 30 is also fantastic, and could perhaps be achieved with some ACT tutoring. Don’t beat yourself up if you achieve slightly less than perfection. Plus, make sure your goals fall into both personal and academic categories – often, academic success is all about balance.

2. Organize your school life

There’s nothing quite like a well-organized calendar, inbox, and note-taking system to propel you to academic success. The ideal time to foster habits to become a more organized student is before the semester begins, but it’s never too late to start. Mid-semester organization can boost your focus and preparation for midterms.

Establish a way to keep yourself on track, either electronically or through a system of notes, tabs, or planners. Get used to writing everything down so that you’re less likely to forget an assignment or test.

3. Identify your resources

The perfect time to identify resources available to you is before you are struggling. This semester, focus on identifying potential problems before they arise, and work toward possible solutions. Now is the time to make a list (because you’re organized, remember?) of places you can turn to for help.

Perhaps your school has a center with writing tutors or a peer mentorship program. Think about how these things may help you and make a connection early on. Then, when you’re in need of some help, you’ll be comfortable seeking it out.

4. Find healthy ways to manage stress

It can be difficult to have the foresight to plan for stress later on in the semester, but now is the time to do it. Figure out what helps you relax, and get into the habit of stress management now. Practice yoga, enjoy meditation, or spend 30 minutes reading for pleasure – whatever puts you at ease. This way, when you’re in a particularly difficult week, you’ll have a plan that will make your life easier.

Many students manage stress by joining an extracurricular activity, which can help you manage academic stress in a number of ways. Not only will you reduce stress, but you’re likely to meet new friends who can act as study partners.

Planning for success may seem like a difficult task when there are so many variables, but it can be done by utilizing these academic to-do’s for this semester. By approaching your semester with a list of things you’d like to accomplish, staying organized, utilizing the resources available to you, and managing stress, you’re working hard – but you’re also working smart!