Semester Essentials: Organise, Balance, and Thrive

March 28, 2024
This story took place in Australia

Pledge to Take Action

The start of a new semester of learning can bring on a lot of mixed feelings – enthusiasm, nervousness, worry, gratitude, excitement, the list goes on!

Whether you’re starting a new semester in high school or at university, it can be helpful to take some time in the first week to plan for what is to come.

For me, I like to begin by reading my syllabi and putting due dates into my planner as soon as they are released. This helps me to identify which weeks will likely require more energy, study time, or organisation, so that I can ensure that I schedule adequate time for self-care, especially during busy periods. If you have the tendency to be a bit of a procrastinator like I sometimes do, it can be helpful to have an additional note in your planner a week prior to an assignment deadline. I note these down as ‘Prepare (assignment name) for submission.’ This can help me avoid putting things off until too close to the deadline. 

If planners don’t work for you, try different organisation tools until you find one that works best for you and your brain. If planners aren’t a good fit for you, try using your phone calendar, a whiteboard, wall planner, sticky notes, or anything else that you think will keep you engaged that you can refer to in order to stay organised. 

It’s also vital to have balance between your study and other life commitments, whether they be work, spending time with family, or time for self-care. This can be difficult to do when we have many competing demands, extracurricular activities, and hobbies, particularly when we have academic assessments or exams on the horizon. 

When I’m feeling stretched thin from my competing demands while studying, it helps me to make sure I’m still getting my basic needs met. It might sound silly but making sure I’m having a balanced diet and eating adequately, moving my body, and staying hydrated helps me to maintain my strength and my ability to manage stressors more effectively. Reaching out for support from my peers is helpful, too. We’re all in the same class and have the same assignments, so it can be good to have someone to talk to who has shared experience and knowledge about the coursework. Organising a group study session can be a great way of meeting new people in your class while ticking off your study to-do list!

One of the most important things to consider when starting a new semester of coursework is to think about who your support system is, and who you feel you will be able to reach out to if during the semester, you find you’re struggling. While it can be difficult, there is no shame in asking for help. Whether it’s your best friend, your aunt, your brother, your neighbour, or your teammate from your soccer team, it is helpful to have at least one trusted, safe person who you feel you can turn to during a difficult time.

It can also be helpful to inquire about the help services available at your educational institute! Schools, universities, and other educational providers will often advertise any available mental health or general support services on their website if they are available. You should also ask a trusted member of staff or student ambassador to help direct you towards additional support if necessary- they can often give you more information about the resources available within the school or educational setting. 

Everyone learns differently and there is no shame in asking for help so that your unique needs can be met, so that you can achieve your academic goals.

There’s nothing wrong with needing different support or learning in a different way to the other students in your class. Maybe you need more breaks, snacks, time for physical movement, or naps to get a task done than the person beside you in class or studying on the desk opposite you in the library. That is okay! You are on your own path with your own passions and strengths. 

All the best for the semester ahead!

Pledge to Take Action