Whether you’re starting your first semester or heading into your senior year, it’s important to be prepared for the first day of school. These tips will help you find success and get the most out of your course material.
Register for Classes Early
Most schools will send you an email when the next semester’s classes are open for registration. You can also check the school calendar for a registration date.
Sign up for classes as soon as you get the chance. This will make sure you get a seat in the classes you need for your degree, and it will let you choose a convenient schedule. Don’t take an 8:00 math class unless it actually sounds fun.
Buy Your Books Online
Don’t wait until the day classes start to get your books. Most school bookstores charge high prices for course materials, and some stores don’t stock enough books for every student. If you have time before the class starts, order your textbooks online instead.
- Go to the school bookstore’s website to find the books assigned to each class.
- Write down the ISBN numbers to make sure you get the correct edition.
- Try to look for the book with a free license code for online materials. From time to time, it’s the best deal to buy used textbooks, then purchasing just a license.
- Check with online sellers to find the best deal on used textbooks. Remember to compare prices to your school’s bookstore.
- Decide if you want a new, used, or rented copy. New books come with access codes, and used books are cheaper. Rentals are a great way to save money, but you don’t get to keep the book.
- Select a shipping option that will deliver your books on time. The sooner you order, the less you spend on shipping.
- When the books arrive, save the boxes. You can use them to return your rentals or sell textbooks back at the end of the semester.
Buy a Binder for Class Handouts
Every teacher is going to give you a syllabus on the first day of class. You’ll also be given course schedules, informational handouts, and labs that you’re expected to complete and return.
Get a binder to keep your papers together. You can use dividers and sleeves to organize the handouts from each class. Make sure your binder pockets are easy to move papers in and out of; if the binder is inconvenient, you aren’t going to use it.
As an extra tip, keep a few sheets of blank paper in your binder. You never know when you’ll need scratch paper in a hurry.
Get a Head Start on Your Readings
College semesters start easy and get difficult very quickly. Your first few weeks will be full of syllabus reading and introductory assignments. Don’t be fooled; things will heat up by mid-semester.
Pull out the course schedule and determine when your readings are due. Most teachers don’t check if you did the readings, but they’re still necessary to keep up with the class.
Plan to study for at least an hour every day while you’re in college, and give yourself a day off every week. Try to get as far ahead in the reading as possible. Read the material even if you don’t understand it; write down your questions and ask them in class.
Actually reading the books is what sets the successful students apart. That guy who’s always partying? Either he’s getting a failing grade, or he’s hitting the books when no one is around.
Use Non-Destructive Note Taking Methods
Many movies show students highlighting important segments in a book and dogearing the pages. Don’t do this. As fun as hands-on studying might be, this it makes it much harder to sell textbooks back when you’re done with them. Try damage-free methods to keep your pages clean.
- Buy bookmarks. You can use them to save your page or to mark important chapters.
- Use sticky notes to leave annotations on specific pages.
- Write down page numbers in your notebook next to relevant thoughts or questions.
- Snap photos of diagrams with your phone to reference later.
Swap Notes with Classmates
College is about both socializing and studying, but the two actually work really well together. Find a classmate who wants to study with you throughout the semester. Don’t choose based on who you’d drink with; choose based on who is serious about graduating and getting a job in the field.
Take detailed notes during lectures and while you’re studying at home. Type these notes up for your own reference; this is a good way to cement the knowledge in your mind.
Swap notes with your study buddy. They might have focused on a different aspect of the material, or you might have noticed something they didn’t. Five minutes before or after class is usually enough to make sure everyone is on the same page. And if you miss a day, you can borrow their notes to catch up.
Study buddies are a mutually beneficial arrangement. Make sure both of you are bringing something to the table.
College success comes from commitment and persistence. Start assignments early and devote real time to your studies. The skills you learn in school will definitely help you later in your career.