Making the most of the new school year

Ever look back and wish something was differently for better results in the past school year? Well, there isn’t a perfect plan with a tag labeled “one size fits all” when it comes to life. Since everyone is unique, it’s all about finding which method works best for oneself. Improving to do better in the next school year can be a challenge; here are some guidelines to map out a successful semester. 

Invest in a planner that is tailored to one’s schedule and style of organization. There are various forms of planners from standard weekly planners to bullet journals. Elizabeth Cisneros, first-year animal science major, commented that she never used a planner in high school. However, she said, “They gave me advice to plan things out because college will be hard without it.”

A typical day at the Cal Poly Pomona University Library as students sit and relax, get homework done and prepare for the whirlwind of a semester that is to come.
(Taylor Su | The Poly Post)

Planners allow one to schedule ahead and be proactive in upcoming deadlines. They also allow for goal setting and jotting down reminders. 

An alternative to keeping a planner is to record deadlines and to-dos on a calendar. Some people prefer to see their events and due dates laid out in a monthly view. Try out multiple calendars from desk calendars to the calendar app on a mobile device or desktop. 

Another way to keep various courses and thoughts organized is to color code while taking notes. Be intentional when switching colors while writing or typing notes. Some tips might include having a different color for each topic, description, definition, example, etc. This may vary based on what is being studied. Adrian Lim, a third-year hospitality major, said, “Writing my notes in different colors help me retain information better and I’m actually able to remember a lot when taking midterms.” 

Caffeine: There’s nothing like a cup of joe to keep one awake! There might be some nights that we regret staying out late or had intense amount of studying and homework to do. But fear not, caffeine can come to our rescue. If coffee isn’t the right fit, there are other healthy alternatives such as Yerba Mate tea or organic energy drinks. Massive amounts of caffeine intake can also be harmful, so be wary at the same time! 

School may require a lot of attention and time but spending time to rejuvenate is just as important. Being able to surround oneself with people who are uplifting and encouraging creates a balance in life, which will help get rid of our regrets over worrying about assignments or projects and come back to center again.

Reflecting on his previous school year, Hamza Abutaleb, second-year civil engineering major, says, “I wish I tried to make more friends. It’s difficult to maintain friendships, so that’s one of my goals this semester … just trying to expand my network, but not like academically and just make friends.” 

Finding a balance in time is a major challenge. Regretful times come from spending too much time focusing on school and work or maybe too much time being out with our friends. One is either unproductive at socializing or unproductive at being responsible. Between the necessary time with others and dedicated studies, focusing on oneself typically gets neglected. There are many activities to do in one’s spare time: Read a self-growth book or a mystery novel, travel to the beach, take a hike, sleep in, etc. Socializing can bring one closer to others but having alone time to reflect and grow is also a major key to a healthy and successful semester. 

Ever procrastinate to the very last minute and end up regretting all decisions made prior? Time block specific hours within a scheduled day to narrow the focus and complete one thing at a time. It will also be helpful to determine the most productive hours in the day before doing so. For some it may be early in the morning and for other it might be later at night. This habit will help create a more efficient process for getting things done in a timely matter. 

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