Readjusting to the college grind

Get organized just in time for fall semester! Photo by Julian Pineda | The Signal

Ah, back to school season. Remember simpler times when all that mattered was what Little Debbie cake your mom packed you for lunch? We do, too.

Alas, it is another year in school and unfortunately, as college students, we have more on our plates today than those sweet, calorie-filled treats.

To ensure smooth sailing this upcoming school year, check these pre-semester to-do’s off your list.


Do: Utilize a planner daily

Don’t:Try to remember upcoming assignments and events in your head

With daily assignments, exams and extracurricular activities controlling your everyday life, a planner is essential in college. While you may be confident, we can assure you it is too much to keep up with solely in your head, even if you consider yourself organized.

Most professors release their entire semester’s schedule and lesson plan to their students prior to the first day of class. Today, these can be found online, usually at the end of the syllabus. Take advantage of the information and write it down in your planner. That way, you will always be prepared for any  upcoming assignments and exams.

You will thank yourself when you remember to bring that infamous Blue Book to your midterm.


Do: Give yourself time to gather supplies and finish assignments needed for your upcoming courses

Don’t: Wait until the night before classes start to see what you’re taking

Since registration for fall classes was last spring, you might have forgotten what courses you are taking. Log on to PAWS to review your fall schedule and start preparing.

For example, some classes require you to review a textbook or read a book before the first day. Complete these tasks now so you are not starting the semester cramming. Similarly, if the syllabus is already posted for a class, purchase the materials now so you can avoid long lines at the bookstore or it being sold out on Amazon come August.


Do: Take a tour of the campus a few days before school starts

Don’t: Wait until the first day to find your classes

Georgia State is anything but an ordinary campus. If you take a wrong turn, you could end up in Centennial Park. That’s why being comfortable with where your classes are before the first day is crucial.

Routing your classes doesn’t have to be a chore. Bring a friend and spend the day exploring. Even if it’s your third year at Georgia State, it never hurts to refresh your mind.

No one wants to be the person who runs into class 20 minutes late the first day of school.


Do:Familiarize yourself with your upcoming free time to be able to use it wisely

Don’t: Spend down time doing meaningless tasks like watching Netflix or YouTube

After you review your fall semester schedule, decide when you will study and do homework. You most likely revolved your schedule around if you are a morning person, night owl, or avoiding traffic.

So, if your classes start around 4 p.m., set aside the time from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to finish your assignments.

It may take awhile to get into the swing of your new schedule but as the school year advances, it will become second nature.


Do: Brainstorm ways you can improve your academic standing

Don’t: Give up on your GPA if it isn’t where you want it to be

Before jumping head-first into the new school year, check to see where you left off.

On your PAWS home page under Student Dashboard, look at your academic standing and GPA. Ask yourself if you are doing your personal best or if there is room for improvement. If you are surpassing your target GPA, consider challenging yourself with a rigorous course next semester.

Checking your GPA  allows you to better plan your academic future and gives you the opportunity to set goals for yourself, so you can end the semester being in the right place to start the next.


Do: Write down goals you know you can work to achieve and give yourself time to fulfill them

Don’t: Don’t formulate unrealistic plans and hide them away in the back of your mind

Take the upcoming year little by little. Instead of overwhelming yourself with impractical tasks you must finish by the end of the semester, take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

For example, on your list of small goals, write “Try a new way of studying.”

On your big goals, write “Get an A on my final.”  Finally, on your huge goals, write something like “Study abroad by the end of this year.”


Do: Ask your professor or research online for tutoring recommendations

Don’t: Ignore doing your homework because it is your hardest subject

So, you’ve ignored that required math class for three years and now graduation is around the corner, huh? We’ve all been there. But running from the mandatory class won’t make it go away.

There is nothing wrong with extra help. Spare a little cash on a tutor or look into the many tutor centers Georgia State has to offer instead of spending vast amounts of money and time to retake the class. Have a plan before the semester starts and know where to go if you find yourself overwhelmed instead of trying to figure it out last minute. Georgia State has tutors for math, English, foreign language, and more.

Sure, it might seem embarrassing at first, but in the grand scheme of life your time is valuable and graduating on time makes more sense than failing.


Do: Go to bed early at least two weeks before school starts

Don’t: Stay up all night the day before school starts

During the summer, sleeping until 3 p.m. and wearing the same clothes you woke up in might be acceptable, but not when school rolls around.

Giving your body time to adjust to it’s new sleep schedule can be difficult but is essential if you want to succeed in college. At least two weeks before the first day of class, start going to bed at a decent hour and waking up when you will on a school day.

It might mean taking an extra shot of espresso in your coffee, but it will ensure you don’t feel like a zombie on your initial day back.


Do: Ask insightful questions about assignments and what you missed if you were absent from class

Don’t: Blow up everyone’s phone with memes

While you might have to wait until the first day to complete this task, it is one you won’t regret. Create a class GroupMe to keep up with assignments, remind classmates of exam dates, and see how other students are feeling about the class.

Send a mass email to your class with the URL to the GroupMe. Or, ask your professor if you can write the link on the board for students to join.

This will allow you to get to know other people in your class and will make you feel more secure throughout the semester in case you forget an assignment. Not to mention, it will eliminate that “wait—we have a midterm today?” shock.