11 Ways to Stay Ahead in the Beginning of the Semester

Posted by Matthew Carrigan on February 5, 2016

The beginning of any semester is the perfect time to start off on the right foot. Not sure what you can do? Here are some easy ways to be proactive now to position yourself for a smooth midterm and finals week.

1) Go to class

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It may seem okay to take a day off from lectures every now and then, but going to class is necessary for knowledge retention and self-motivation. You may be missing key information, and reading notes from a friend is not nearly as valuable as taking them yourself. You will build a strong internal discipline that will help you stay motivated to go to work in the future.

2) Read the syllabus

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The syllabus will help you familiarize yourself with the structure of the class. Find out more about the schedule and material that will be covered so that you can plan ahead. Compare your class schedules so you will know ahead of time if you have a busy week cluttered with papers and exams coming up. Nobody likes learning about an assignment the night before the due date!

3) Participate in class

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Show your professor that you are investing time and energy into his or her course. Ask engaging questions about the material, contribute to class discussion and share your valuable insights. This will provoke interest in others, and maybe even in you.

4) Stay up to date with readings

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Consistently reading your textbook is essential to efficient time management and reinforcing information you learned in class. Avoid cramming for exams by reading thoroughly and taking notes that will help you remember the information later on.

5) Find classmates to study with

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Studying alone is good, but studying with a friend is better. Try to find a classmate that can help you learn the material early on. If you have a strong understanding of the material, offer to help other students that may be struggling. Sometimes the best way to fully understand something is to help teach others

6) Get a head start on papers

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Lower your stress levels by researching and writing early drafts the week before a paper is due -- not the night before. Give yourself time to edit and make improvements. You may even be able to ask your professor or TA to make positive suggestions.

7) Create a study routine

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Try to get into the habit of studying for each class every week. It may seem tedious now, but by exam time your studying rhythm will be fully developed, and you will be ahead of the curve with your knowledge of the material. Find out which study method works best for you and embrace it. There is no better feeling than getting a good night’s sleep before the exam while your classmates are up late cramming!

8) Go to office hours

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Office hours are a great time to get to know your professors better and show them that you are committed to their class. In smaller classes, where participation is key, professors appreciate when students take the time to fully immerse themselves. Some professors even have connections in their area of expertise. Who knows, you may even find yourself a job opportunity!

9) Find a tutor

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Some students learn better from peers who have already taken the class. Binghamton offers free tutoring, both by appointment and walk-in services. Need help with a paper instead? Find free assistance in the Writing Center. Take advantage of these opportunities early on and you'll thank yourself later. Make sure to utilize your tutoring session wisely. Learn the material, don’t just go for help with homework.

10) Look into jobs and internships

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Research potential summer jobs and internships early on. Many employers look to hire students towards the beginning of the semester. Make sure that your resume is updated and reflects your positive attributes. Review networking and interview best practices. Need help? Visit the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development in the University Union for professional advice.

11) Do your research for next semester

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Nobody likes having to plan their next semester amidst the stress of multiple exams and assignments. If you are researching majors and careers, speak to an advisor towards the beginning of the semester-- not at the end. If you need to arrange living accommodations for yourself, be proactive. Look through the next semester's class schedule as soon as it becomes available to avoid overwhelming yourself later on.

Remember, it's never too late to turn over a new leaf and bring out the best student in you. It's important to stay socially and physically active, but striking a positive balance with your studies is key. Follow these tips to make sure this is your best semester yet!

Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? E-mail us at social@binghamton.edu.