5 Tips for a Successful Fall Semester

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I hope you are all enjoying your summer and getting excited about the upcoming fall semester!  At the risk of appearing to rush into the 2015-2016 school year, I wanted to share a few tips to start thinking about to ensure success this fall.

1.  Order your textbooks early

There’s nothing worse than waiting on your textbook to arrive while your first assignment’s due date is looming (okay, there are several worse things that can happen, but just thinking about this does make me sweat).  Avoid the stress by ordering your textbooks early using your preferred method, and thank yourself when it arrives prior to the first day of class.

*Hint: the deadline to use financial aid for course books is August 4! Details on STAR.

2.  Explore eCampus

Once your courses have been made available on eCampus, take some time to browse the course content, messages from your professors, and posted resources.  Then, read the syllabus.  And after that, read it again.  Familiarize yourself with the intended learning outcomes, assignment schedule, and grading process, and take time to brainstorm what you will be able to bring to the conversation.  Entering a class with a firm understanding of the course structure is a sure-fire way to begin the semester on the right foot.

3. Create a schedule

Life is a balancing act, and some elements hold more weight than others.  Juggling work, school, family life, etc. will require some prioritization and much organization.  A new year is a new opportunity to approach the semester with a plan.  Consider all due dates listed for each course and develop a cadence that suits your lifestyle.  Leave room for flexibility and the inevitable fact that things come up, but do your best to commit to your plan.

4.  Set goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”  -Tony Robbins

I don’t think I need to stress the importance of this one.  Setting goals is crucial in attaining success.  This semester, decide what you want to get out of the courses you’re taking.  Write these goals down, or perhaps even mention them in your introductory discussion post.  Documenting goals is the surest way to keep yourself accountable for them. Whether it’s to achieve a particular grade, apply concepts to your current work, or bring meaningful insight to the table, be sure that your goals meet the SMART criteria:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-bound

5.  Make connections

During the first week of class, be sure to carefully read through your peers’ introductions and draw any connections you can, and share enough about yourself to give others the opportunity to do the same.  Finding common ground with those you’ll be working with for nine weeks is an excellent way to lay a solid foundation for future discussions.  Thoughtfully drawing back to references made in the introductory forum will surely enhance the conversation and pave the way for networking beyond the confines of the [virtual] classroom.  Apply this same concept with your professors, as they continue to be excellent resources long after the semester’s end.

What advice do you have for easing into a new semester?  Share your tips here!

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One Response to “5 Tips for a Successful Fall Semester”

  1. plshriver Says:

    Great post! Really good tips even for those of us who have been in the program a little while. Thanks!

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