New year, new you, right? Well, maybe. Starting a new semester the right way might not be as easy as we would like, but thankfully there are plenty of success stories. I talked to four fellow students to give us some ideas on how to begin the semester right. Many agreed that time management is key. Finding balance between personal life, educational demands and employment is the only way to survive a semester in college.

So if you procrastinate horribly (like me) or maybe just struggle to stay organized, here are some tips to help you do well this semester.

1.Prioritize YOU.

Put your physical and mental health first, before anything else. This means not taking on too many classes and not being afraid to drop a class in order to save your mental health and sleep schedule. It also means you are obligated to spend time doing what you truly enjoy.

Nicolle, a freshman majoring in Earth Science Education, always puts her health first. She refuses to stay up late studying for an exam because then she “will be tired the whole time and score lower on the exam.”

Travis, a sophomore in the Environmental Geoscience program, says he loves “to go to the Humane Society to pet the cats” or go “hiking/hammocking to relieve stress” during a tough week.

2. Use a planner (or something like it).

Stay organized when you can manage it. It’ll make your life so much simpler.

Cameron, a freshman majoring in both business administration and Spanish, says “this semester I’ve been using my planner a lot more” and considers himself to be a relatively organized person.

Barry, a senior in the music program, started this semester off right by using his planner to stay “on top of assignments and readings.”

3. Take advantage of the time between classes

Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, do something with it. Get a snack. Get lost in your favorite Spotify playlist. Prepare for your next class. Maybe try and get ahead on homework.

Barry says he usually spends the time working on “assignments or practice” for other classes.

Cameron likes to spend time between his classes getting something to eat, watching something on Netflix or preparing for his next class.

4. Put homework before work

This one can be difficult. Many students have to put themselves through college, which means they have to work constantly in order to support themselves. While knowing this, I still stand by this advice and many other students put it into practice.

Barry, who’s taking 16 credits and working part time, prioritizes “things within [his] own major and/or things that make a bigger impact” on his life over his part time job.

Travis prioritizes “homework and reading over just about everything” despite working 20 hours a week while taking 16 credits, including 2 lab classes.

These are just a couple of ways you can start your semester off strong. Ultimately, starting your semester off right requires figuring out the best way for YOU to manage your time between your commitments and your health. Good luck!

– Sara Wakeham ’18