Do you keep struggling to keep up with your classes from the first day you get to college? Or maybe you’re an incoming freshman and want to be prepared AF. Either way, this is for you!
In this post, I will share my best tips for how to prepare for a productive semester in college, before the semester starts.
Now let’s get started with what you need to prepare and bring to college this semester!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase via my link I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend things I use and love, but for any questions, refer to my full disclosure here.
💰 Financial Preparation
Before you get to college, you need to check if all of your finances are in order. For that, you should check your student account and see if the following is paid for:
- Your dorm/accommodation
- Meal plan
- Parking pass if needed
If you are on a payment plan for your tuition, make sure it’s set up correctly and you have entered it into your monthly budget 📆.
💰Other than those college expenses, you should also prepare for a productive semester with a budget. Here are some tips for that:
- Write down fixed expenses for every month (rent, payment plan for tuition, phone plan, insurance…)
- Write down variable expenses every month (what you expect to spend on food, clothes, going out…)
- Add that up and see how much that comes to
- Create a list of your income sources and how much they make. Can you cover your expenses? If not, you need to either make more money or reduce your budget for your variable expenses
- If you need more help in this, check out my eBook “99 Ways To Save Money As A Student”
📚 Class Preparation
To prepare for your classes, there are also a couple of things you should do before the semester starts. So here is how to prepare for a productive semester in your classes:
- Make sure you’re registered for classes
- Download the syllabus from each class
- Write down all due dates in your planner, whether that’s a calendar or digital app
- Add the “required” textbooks to your shopping cart on Amazon or Chegg (make sure to rent them instead of buying) but only place the order after the first day of class when your professor has told you whether you need it
- Complete any readings
🎯 Goal Setting
Goal setting is one of the most important factors for how to prepare for a productive semester in college. In order to be successful, you need to have goals to define what that means to you.
Do you want to study 20 hours a week? Do you want to have A’s in all classes? Or do you just want to pass all exams with a B? It’s important that you take the time before the semester starts to set your goals.
Here are some other things you can do to set your goals and get motivated:
- Write a bucket list ✏ (things you want to do in the semester, rather than things you want to accomplish)
- Create a vision board 💫 (print out pictures of what you want to achieve and stick them on a big sheet of paper or poster)
- Write your goals onto sticky notes 🗒 and place them in your study space or on your bathroom mirror (if you have that luxury)
Something that can help you with that is my free goal planner! You can download it below⤵:
My favorite part of going back to college! But you need to do this smart to make it efficient. Here are some of my college packing tips:
- Only take clothes for the season if you plan on going home for Christmas – it saves you a lot of space
- Pack an emergency bag that has a set of clothes, basic toiletries, first-aid items, medication, etc.
- Make copies of your important documents and store them in a random but safe place in your room
- Have a reusable water bottle, set of silverware, and Tupperware to reduce your waste in college (it’s also just more convenient)
- Take a weekend travel bag so you don’t need to take a big suitcase for a day trip
- Check out my post The Ultimate College Packing List for more tips!
Struggling to pack? If you’d like a checklist with all categories of essentials, check out my college packing list printable!
📦 Preparing your Move-in
Next in this how to prepare for a productive semester guide are the things you should get done before you move in:
- First, you should check your class schedule again and create a time blocking schedule in your planner, so you get an idea of how full your week is going to be
- Second, if you’ve had any campus jobs in the past, check in with your supervisor if you still have the job/if your position will be working.
- Third, Get to know your roommate! If you don’t know your roommate yet, texting is a good start to get to know them and ask them a few questions about their lifestyle so you can prepare better.
- Forth, Check what essentials you need for your classes and order/buy them in time! For example, my photography course requires a DSLR, so I’m gonna rent one from the library.
Remember things like that and don’t forget to ask your friends for previous textbooks before you order your rentals!
- And lastly, have a good attitude! A positive mindset can do so much when it comes to challenging things, such as a different college experience this semester!
🎒 Supplies Prep
While I recommend only buying your supplies when you get to college to see what your classes actually require, there are a few college essentials you need regardless. Here they are:
- A backpack
- A planner (physical or virtual doesn’t matter, but make sure it’s set up and ready to be used!)
- A few pens
- Highlighters or pens in 2-3 other colors
- A notebook (or iPad) for taking notes
- A laptop and a case to keep it safe
- Earphones, potentially noise-cancelling ones
- A reusable water bottle, maybe with a filter
To get all that, you can utilize Amazon’s free 6-month student trial! You can sign up for it here.
📃 To-Do in the First Week
Last in this how to prepare for a productive semester guide are things to do the first week!
Here are the most important ones: (and if I miss something please comment it below!)
- Get your keys and (if you have this) the medical check-up done when you arrive on campus
- Measure the time you need to get to each class location so you can save time in the future
- If you have some online classes, get familiar with how the software works and ask professors any questions you have
- Read the syllabus! I promise you it makes a difference in your grades! (read here how to get As!)
- Buy any other dorm essentials you wanted. For example, I always wait with decor purchases until I moved in and can see what would fit.
Related Post: 15 move-in day tips for college students
I hope these tips help you prepare for this different semester! If you have anything to add, feel free to comment it below!