The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

How to make next semester your best semester

Students studying in Grainger Library for finals on Dec. 6.

Students studying in Grainger Library for finals on Dec. 6.

Emma Li

Emma Li

Students studying in Grainger Library for finals on Dec. 6.

Leah Pearlman, Columnist

“Next semester is going to be the best semester ever!” you squeal as you skip up and down the Target aisle lined with daily planners trying to find the perfect one that suits both your personal style and organizational needs … or maybe that’s just me?

Whether or not you are as obsessed with buying organizational tools — that you never even end up using — as I am, a lot of students are thinking similar thoughts as the semester comes to a close. Things like: “I am going to do so much better next semester,” “Next semester is a fresh start!” or “I am going to start going to class everyday next semester and take amazing notes.”

Thoughts like these are common beliefs about every “next” semester we have ever had in our school-attending lives. Think about it: Have you ever not gone into the upcoming semester a brimming cup of hope and work ethic, syllabi in hand, believing you are the epitome of anything and everything academic?

Again, maybe that’s just me.

But I am going to tell you how this very next semester could actually be your best one ever.

You are going to start off at a slower pace. No more hyped up study sessions and turning in your homework super early, unless it is something you think you can keep up with all semester.

Because that’s the key theme of my plan: endurance.

I have personally made a habit of running myself out as the semester progresses. So I figure the best way to go about sticking to my word is to simply care less in the beginning few weeks. Obviously I will do all of my work, but I won’t attend every single office hours, or try to study the notes after class every day for hours. This way, with less intensity in the beginning, I can actually keep up my attitude and my work through the whole semester.

Since you do not want to start the semester off at your peak effort and then slowly lessen effort as the semester drags on, there are things you can do to make this happen.

A good way to go about this is to create some strict but very doable goals for the upcoming semester. This way when you say you’ll do something, you actually will, because the goals are easy enough to accomplish on a constant weekly basis.

Additionally, having sharp, clearly defined, measurable goals helps you take pride in accomplishing them. If you can see clear forward progress in what feels like a very long semester, you are more likely to continue with your current rhythm.

An example of a goal I would make would be to get to bed by a certain time the nights before my early classes. This way I will be rested enough to avoid hitting the snooze button and sleeping through a class.

Personally, if I had a class at 9:30 a.m. three days a week, I would be sure to go to bed earlier on the nights before.

A busy student may want to set organizational goals like using an online calendar while a student who considers themselves a bad test taker could study little by little as the semester goes on using flashcards or even looking through their notes once a week on Sunday nights. These specific, small goals could aid these people as well as keep them very focused throughout the semester.

This focus is important in order to not fizzle out.

As strange as it seems, the lesson I’ve learned from years of overcompensating is to simply try less in the beginning of next semester. Winter break allows us enough rest to be ready for class in the next year; however, we must remember not to go too hard at first.

Stay motivated and create clear goals, but don’t overwork in order to keep up the pace throughout the rest of the semester.

Leah is a sophomore in Media.

Leave a Comment