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Easily create a semester game plan

Making a plan in the chaotic year of 2020? Yes, it's still possible! Use these tips to find some stability and help you stay organized this semester.

Starting fall semester doesn’t have to be painful. Whether you’re heading off to college for the first time or have only a few semesters left, here are some strategies for helping you achieve balance and happiness.

Get credits over the summer.

Summer school strikes fear into the hearts of children, but as a college student, you’ll be glad if you get to take care of some of your credits over the summer. Often, summer classes are either more laid-back than those during the academic year, or they’re more efficient, packing in a semester’s worth of material into a couple of months. It’s also likely that you’ll get more out of your classes when you’re only focusing on one or two at a time. Plus, most programs only run for six to eight weeks, leaving you with several weeks to relax. Consider taking prerequisites, classes for your major, gen ed. requirements or a foreign language. If it’s possible for you to get credits while studying abroad, that’s another terrific option—you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you’ll be glad you don’t have to take as many classes during the year.

Be schedule-savvy.

If you’re not a morning person, that’s okay—do whatever you can to avoid taking 8AM classes! A recent study at University of Nevada confirmed what every college student already suspects: Attendance is lower in 8 AM classes, as well as test scores and overall grades. That being said, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid early morning classes, and if that’s the case, try waking up at 7:30 a week before you start classes so it’s not such a shock on the first day. There are lots of ways to be thoughtful about how you arrange your schedule. Stacking classes is one popular strategy, meaning that you might have two or three classes in the morning, but then all afternoon to study. Taking night classes is another strategy—at some colleges, this means that you get professors who have day jobs in the profession you’re pursuing, like a business law professor who’s a lawyer during the day. If you can, try going to classes that meet at different times of day so you figure out when you’re most alert. And if classes are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, set yourself a notification on your phone so you remember to register ASAP!

Find a tutor for your hardest class.

Don’t let the fear of failing deter you from going after the major you want! If you don’t have a chance to personally ask the professor or TA all your questions, get a tutor who will give you the coaching you need to ace the class. Most colleges have an academic help center, and you can always connect with a Coleman online (they are available 24/7).

Keep your mind and body healthy.

When you’re busy with school, work, and a million other things, it might seem like a low priority, but if you can, try to exercise a few times a week, sleep at least seven hours, and eat three meals a day. Your body NEEDS this kind of care to keep you going, not to mention it will be way harder to study if you’re hungry and exhausted. Sometimes calling it a night at 9PM is what you need to do to keep your sanity, even if your friends want to go out. Take care of yourself—your friends will still be there in the morning. If you’re a pre-med student, for example, staying out until three on Thursday night is going to make Friday’s 9 AM biochem lecture really miserable. Seek out a few friends who have similar routines to yours so that even if you’re not going out, you’re not alone.

Part of going to college is learning about what you need by trial and error, but being a little proactive goes a long way. Finding a tutor, taking care of yourself, and being strategic about your schedule are a few simple ways to make the semester go smoothly.