It’s the beginning of a new fall semester, and with that comes hope and promise that this semester will be great. Forget about last semester; that doesn’t count, right? No matter how well your student has done in the past and or how much they have learned from their previous stumbles, there is always time to remind them about how to start the semester off right. Think of September as you would January, a time to set new goals for the rest of the year.

Consider the following 5 secrets to get the semester going in the right direction as their “new academic year’s” goals:

#1 Introduce yourself to all of your professors. Your student can do this via a quick email or a brief meeting after class. A professor who knows your student is most likely to be able to help out when they need something. Don’t know what to say? Coach them to say something like this:

Prof. Jones,

I am Kaylon Brown, and I am a student in your Chemistry I on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I wanted to let you know that I am excited to be in your class. I look forward to learning a lot this semester!

#2 Use a planner. If your student has not started using an organizational strategy such as a calendar or planner, get thee to an office store, lickety split! Without a planner, your student will struggle and find themselves overly stressed. It will be hard to stay on top of all they have to do without one or even two calendar systems.

#3 Get your supplies. Speaking of calendars, be sure that all those other supplies, including books, are purchased and ready to go. Students who do not get their books within the first week of classes often find that have fallen behind before the semester has really gotten started. If the class requires a certain notebook or software, your student should be taking care of that or letting the professor know if they are having trouble getting the supplies they need.

#4 Get to know your classmates. Some of my biggest lifesavers in college were fellow classmates who helped me stay on track and study. Your student should be seeking out others in class to get to know and connecting with them outside of class. Knowing and being able to work well with classmates can make a hard semester so much more bearable.

#5 Get ahead of your work. In college, there is rarely any free time, and when there is, it should be hard won. That means your student should be finding ways to get ahead of work instead of playing catch-up. If a Saturday afternoon suddenly opens up and your student thinks they deserve to hang out all day and do nothing. Gently remind them that time may be better spent getting ahead of the week and its work. Your student may find that it makes for less stress in the long run if more work can be done on the front end.

The more your student can get connected to others–professors and classmates–and get organized ahead of time, the less stressed they will be when you check in on them in a few weeks. Trust me. A little preparation can go a long way.

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