Before the new semester starts, there is so much to do that it can be overwhelming. It can be hard to keep track of everything you need to do.
Before the new semester starts, students need to check registration, order textbooks and school supplies, write down important dates on the academic calendar, review past notes, set up a study space, and check their school email. They should also review financial aid and/or disability accommodations.
Below, we will go over what to do before the new semester starts to ensure that you are prepared for your courses and are setting yourself up for success before the semester even starts.
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Make an appointment with your academic advisor and check registration
Since classes can fill up quickly, it is best to register as soon as possible after enrollment opens. If you haven’t registered for classes, do so ASAP.
Before registering, check out ratemyprofessor.com to see which professor you want and learn about their teaching style.
You should also talk with your academic advisor before registering to make sure that the courses you register for fulfill a requirement.
If you didn’t talk to your advisor before registering, schedule an appointment now. You don’t want to take a course that can’t be applied to what you need. That will just mean having to take additional courses and will cost you time and money. Make a quick appointment to ensure this is a course that you want to be in.
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Order your textbooks
Don’t wait to buy your textbooks. As an online student, you can’t just run to your bookstore to buy or rent your textbooks, you have to order them online (though I should note that it is also not advisable to wait to get your textbooks even if you are getting them from the bookstore because they can run out or you can get a much better deal online).
To account for any shipping delays, make sure to buy textbooks at least a couple of weeks in advance.
Places you may be able to find your required reading materials:
- stated when you registered for the class
- posted on your schedule on your school portal closer to the start of classes
- your school bookstore
- the class may “open” up on Canvas in advance to show your syllabus
You can always message your academic advisor or success coach to ask where the required reading materials are posted.
If you can’t find what textbooks are required, you can reach out to your professor a few weeks before class starts and ask for a list of required reading materials. This will not only help you be prepared but show your professor that you are taking the initiative and want to succeed in their class.
You should not go off what some friends say were their required readings because these can change from year to year.
Tip: Learn from my mistake and make sure that you have the right edition. Check the ISBN number. To learn about the best deals, read my post about buying cheap textbooks.
Get school supplies
In addition to your textbooks, you should also get your needed school supplies before college classes start. I bet as a kid your liked going back to school shopping (I LOVED it). Channel your inner kid and get excited about getting your school supplies.
Some basics include:
- Binders or folder
- Pencils and pens (if you need them, but check around, you probably have a bunch in random places)
For a more comprehensive list, check out our post on Everything You Need for Online College: School Supply List.
Check disability accommodations
Make sure that you have requested what accommodations you need for your courses. Check with the disability office that these accommodations have been approved and that they will notify your professors before the start of the semester.
Go over finances (tuition and financial aid)
Go over and make sure that you have all your tuition, fees, and financial aid taken care of:
- Review if you have any remaining balance. If so, pay it.
- Write down when the tuition is due (you don’t want to pay a late fee). And make sure that you pay it on time! Or better yet, just pay it now (or as soon as the bill shows up and/or your financial aid).
- If you have a scholarship or are receiving financial aid or assistance that semester, then make sure that you know all the requirements that go along with that. For example, I had a required number of volunteer hours each semester for my scholarship. You may also need to submit certain info each semester (such as a bill, schedule, and current unofficial transcript).
- Make sure that you are aware of all important dates on the Financial Aid Calendar (such as the Pell Book Voucher start and deadline dates which I discuss in more detail here).
- If you need help, consider setting up an appointment with a financial aid advisor if your school has them (or a student success coach).
At ASU, there is a “Finances” tab where most of this info can be located. If your school doesn’t have that, and you don’t know this information, then you may need to call either the financial aid office or the Bursar’s office and/or whoever is in charge of your scholarship.
Write down important dates on the financial aid and academic calendars
While checking out the important dates on the financial aid calendar, make sure you write them down.
Also, write down important dates on the academic calendar, such as
- Tuition deadline
- The last day to add/drop a class
- Graduation application deadlines
- Final exams
Learn what other resources are available to you
Take the time to learn what resources are available to you, such as:
- Academic advisor
- Disability office
- Writing Lab
- Career Services
- Student health services
- Tech department
Knowing what resources are available makes it easy for you to know where to turn to for assistance throughout the semester.
Optional: Meet with your success coach or Trio advisor
If your school has a Success coach or Trio program, I recommend making an appointment with them before each semester. They can serve as a great resource. Also, it can be helpful to have an ongoing relationship with them in case you need help later.
Review notes for prerequisite classes
If you have taken any prerequisite classes for your upcoming courses, review your notes before the new semester’s classes start. This is especially important for math or language classes, where the concepts will be directly related and build on each other.
Figure out when and where for your classes
Figure out when your classes are (if there are any set times) and where you will take your classes.
I recommend setting up a study space solely used for schoolwork so that you have a designated workspace.
The ideal study space is someplace quiet where you won’t be disturbed. If you can’t have that at home, figure out where your closest library is, or check out our guide on How to Study When It’s Noisy: Tips to Block Out Noise and Concentrate.
Set up and get in the habit of checking your school email account
Set up your school email account (if you don’t already have one). If you do, get in the habit of checking your school email daily (you don’t want to miss any messages from your professors).
A great thing to do before the new semester starts is to take some time to get organized. Organize the study space that you just set up.
Go through your computer, including your desktop and downloads, and organize your documents into folders.
Take the time to do anything you have been needing to do but have been putting off (you know, the things that keep moving from to-do list to to-list). This way, they are off your plate, and you can start fresh with your new semester.
Get back your school routine and sleep schedule
Don’t wait until the new semester starts to get back into your school schedule. If you need to get up earlier for school, start gradually going to bed and getting up earlier. Use the start of the new semester as an opportunity to develop good sleep hygiene (your body and grades will thank you).
Reflect on the previous semester
Take some time to reflect on your previous semester:
- What were some things that you did well?
- What were some challenges you faced?
- How were your grades? If good, what factors can you repeat to get good grades again? If bad, why do you think that is? What can you do differently to get better grades (do your work, study more, get tutoring, etc..)?
Make a plan for school and life balance
Try to come up with a plan for school and life balance. Writing down important dates, getting organized, setting up a study space, and using a planner and scheduling in time for classes are all great starts!
Consider also talking to your friends, family, or boss about your school responsibilities. Ask for flexibility and help managing everything. Set boundaries.
A big part of managing school and life is to not forget to practice self-care. We have talked about getting enough sleep.
You should also make sure that you are taking care of yourself by eating healthy, exercising, and practicing relaxation techniques (my favorites are breathing exercises and body scan meditation).
Enjoy the end of break
Now you know what to do before the new semester starts. Start checking off items on this list! It will make sure you are starting the semester off organized and on top of it!
But don’t forget to also enjoy the end of break and have some fun before the new semester starts!
Leave a comment about what you do before the new semester starts.
Next, read the beginning of the semester checklist for what to do once the semester starts.
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