Academic productivity

How to prepare for a new semester (TRIED AND TESTED)

prepare for a new semester

A new semester has come. How can I mentally prepare for it?

This situation has happened a lot, even to the best of the bunch, where you are burdened with having to be in the right mind frame to stay ahead of all that the semester may throw.

By the end of this blog post, you’d have learned a foolproof framework that helps you prepare for a new semester.

It has been diligently built and provided to you. With it, you can plan the ongoing semester as well as others to follow.

The above-mentioned question -in my opinion- sets to make the semester a decent one.

You are not alone, in fact, most college class toppers struggle with having to wrap their heads around a new semester also.

The difference is that they always figure a way to work around the situation so it doesn’t progress to a problem.

how to prepare for a new semester


For a bit of context, preparing for a new semester is no different from preparing to go on a trip or enjoying the Christmas Holiday. It is simply about getting equipped, setting up, and making oneself ready for a specific purpose.

How do I start a new semester?

You can start a new semester by assigning a specific purpose to the semester. To throw more light, you could start by setting up systems and making yourself ready for academic activities that take place in an academic term.

After getting that out of the way, we can effectively discuss how you can prepare for a new semester as you are better equipped to do so now. 

The effective preparation of a new semester is spread across two phases.

  1. Pre resumption semester preparation
  2. Post resumption semester preparation.
prepare for a new semester flowchart
Pathway to effectively plan for a new semester

Pre resumption semester preparation

As the name implies, the phase contains all the systems, plans, and perspective shifts that are to take place before the very day of resumption.

To provide a bit of context, this entails a process flow that involves getting into the right frame of mind, begetting ideas by envisioning a typical semester, executing tasks categorically, and assessing progress.

It is further discussed in this comprehensive article on back to school preparation and the best tips were given.

If you are currently in this phase of a new semester preparation, you can download this free playbook that helps you plan for school resumption without forgetting a darn thing.

I have come to understand that the plans carried out in this phase have significant importance on the outcome of a semester. They are mostly ignored by students and pose great leverage if you put them to action.

Without leaving you behind, we can proceed to the next phase

Post resumption 

Having carefully enacted the systems outlined in the pre-resumption phase, you’d notice a momentum build. You must continue to groom this so that you hit the ground running.

The processes that make up the post resumption phase border on the quality of the activities done in preparation before resumption.

From a generic standpoint, the activities that take place in a semester that count toward your academic achievement (GPA) are;

  • Attending lectures and taking notes
  • Studying notes and course materials
  • Taking exams and other forms of assessment. 

The first thing I like to do when I get to my dorm room is to tidy up the vicinity of the room by cleaning, washing, and dusting all that is deserving.

After thorough sanitation is done, I arrange/rearrange my room differently from how it was by moving various furniture around. It kind of gives me the feeling of a fresh start and has me stoked about the semester that is yet to unfold.

Next, I begin to unpack my luggage and set things where they should be. 

After settling down to a lukewarm bath, I begin to adopt the framework by setting goals and laying systems that facilitate the progress of generic activities native to the semester.

Setting goals for the new semester

We set goals every single day and they vary in nature and form. A new semester shouldn’t be any different.

Nothing spells preparation better than goals. So to prepare for a new semester, you must be ready to make new and meaningful goals which gives purpose to the semester.

How do I know if my goal is meaningful?

Good question!! A meaningful goal can be identified by the existence of certain characteristics enumerated below;

  • Specificity
  • Measurability
  • Achievability
  • Relevance.
  • Time- Based

Laying systems to support set goals

SMART goals are at the end of a pathway made by systems. 

You may have ideas and admirable motives for your academic growth but that can not guarantee the results you desire.

You must make apt plans that are designed with the accomplishment of set goals as the focal point. And then make those plans come to life and have a place in your world.

Attending Lectures and Taking Notes this new semester.

Lectures are the blood of a working educational system. Whether centralized or decentralized, it is used as a measure of the amount of educational service delivered by the organization and the potency enjoyed by the student.

Can you imagine paying large sums of tuition fees only to not be taught? 

It is unheard of. In fact, recently, class attendance has been deemed a compulsory requirement to sit for examinations

Anyways, you understand now, that it is in the very lectures that you can grasp the knowledge which equips you to be competent in the field of discipline you pursue.

Effective note-taking is necessary as well for both efficient studying and assessment purposes. 

Setting goals to bolster lecture attendance and note-taking

What is that specific and achievable thing I need to scale my lecture attendance?
What I should do to improve the experience of the readers of my notes [me included]?

These questions help walk you through the thought process leading to goal setting. Well, here are some goals you should be setting this new semester.

Take more comprehensive and detailed notes 

Take better care of my notes

Attend 75% of all my lectures this semester than I did last

Be in my lecture classes 10 minutes earlier than I was last semester.

Laying systems

Sequel to the earlier section, you can see that it is important to not only lay systems that house your plans but to also lay the right plans.

Here are some questions you could ask to put the right systems in place for your plans to improve lecture attendance.

What is my goal?
What is the biggest threat to it?
What must I give up to make room for my goal? 

After a clear picture has been painted by providing answers to the above questions, a degree of consciousness is born. Hence, better decisions are made.

For lecture attendance improvement, you want to set alarms in sequences that are effective in getting you up.

Also to get up early may mean that you gotta sleep early, your sleep schedule must be in check.

For note-taking, you could make the process an interesting one.

You’d want to purchase beautiful notes that are dimensionally short for comfortable writing.

Create incentivized competitions amongst your peers to reward the fastest writer. This has the potential to make you take notes if notes are required to be written.

college students taking notes in a new semester

Protip: Don’t use one notebook for all your courses. If possible use one note for each course, This makes it easy for submission, assessment, and improved reading experience.

Studying notes and course materials

Your goals to be set should revolve around enhancing the quality of study sessions in as little time as possible. You could do this by adopting the SMART study technique and also improving your concentration using these tips.

Some examples are

Peak my focus and concentration each time before studying

Cover 80% of coursework before each test

Laying systems

Avoid pseudo working; spending long hours studying with little to no focus or concentration. Eg spending 8 hours in the common room with three meals and a blanket in preparation for an assessment.

Do you know how this would end? In headaches, back pains, and mediocre performances

Adopt the Pomodoro technique for studying; Split study sessions into groups of 30 minutes

Create study time tables so that you can effectively execute spaced repetition and no longer have to cram under little time availability.

And of course, attend lectures and take effective notes. Lecture notes from lecture classes you attended are easier to understand and assimilate than ones that were missed.

Taking exams and other forms of assessment.

It is an educational standard to test students before main semester examinations. From these activities, evaluation is made by both the teacher and student on the level of understanding of the course.

Some testing devices used are tests, quizzes, seminars, class works, and examinations.

You can see how effective studying equips you for assessments.

Setting goals for improving assessments

Which testing device do I plan on improving this semester?
What resources do I need to consult to help make this possible?

Some exemplary goals to set are

To get a 4.85 GPA(Grade Point Average) this semester.

Gain a 0.5 increment in my Cumulative GPA.

Laying systems for your assessments

  • Increase your knowledge bank by listening to podcasts and reading blog posts like this one. You’d be surprised at the amount of transformative information contained in these platforms.
  • Get an accountability partner.
  • Register for private tutorial classes held by the lecturers
  • Reassess previous semester performance
  • Join or create a functional study group.


To prepare for a new semester becomes a walk in the park when the basic concept illustrated in this post is used to structure your planning process.

The goals that are set at the beginning of a new semester are general goals and more specific ones would have to be laid as the semester unfolds.

You can have a good start to a new semester by setting up systems and making yourself ready for academic activities that take place in an academic term. Here’s how to do that; Set goals and lay frameworks.

These are just the foundation and it would be inconsequential if actions are not executed. Although these systems make it relatively easier to hit goals, it does not (on its own) get things done.

Much of the work still rests on your shoulders. Go out there and take the semester by the scruff of the neck.

So make plans to attend lectures, take notes, improve assessments, and attack exams correctly. Then execute it!

What are you going to achieve this semester?

Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash

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