Setting yourself up for a successful semester


Paige Atkison

Paige Atkison , Reporter

The way you start a semester most often sets the tone for your academic success during that term. If you put off planning for the semester until weeks in, your academic success will decline. However, if you use the first weeks of the semester to prepare for the weeks to come, you will finish the course with ease. So how do you start the semester in a way that leads to success? The five most important things to master before the semester takes off are using a planner, managing your time, breaking large projects into smaller tasks, utilizing your resources, and knowing your limits.

The first and most important skill to have is knowing how to effectively use a planner. As the old adage goes, “Fail to plan; plan to fail.” As soon as you receive a syllabus, schedule, or outline, enter the dates in your planner. With each assignment and test recorded in your planner, you won’t need to spend each day scrambling to remember what you need to get done.

Once you’ve got your planner, you can start managing your time. Each person shares the same 24 hours in each day and you must use yours wisely. Set up a daily schedule and determine which portions of each day you need to spend “studying, working, or attending class. The Bakersfield College “Habits of Mind” app has hourly schedules available for to download and print. Use your schedule to chart what you will be doing each day. If you need to move a task or block of study time to another day, you’ll be able to look at your schedule sheet and find a more suitable time that won’t throw off your whole day.

Together, your planner and time sheet will prepare you for the third skill you will need: breaking large assignments into smaller tasks. We’ve all tried to complete a time-consuming assignment just before the deadline. This sort of behavior may work in an emergency, but it is a poor habit to develop. Procrastinating on assignments until hours before it is due will cause unnecessary stress and hinder your ability to do your very best work. Breaking large projects and assignments into smaller tasks makes them appear less daunting and more manageable. Take whichever assignment you need to complete and divide the tasks and disperse them throughout the week. Once you’ve broken your assignment into smaller tasks, evaluate which tasks are of the highest priority, and complete the most pressing tasks first. By the time the deadline rolls around, you’ll have completed your assignment.

If you find yourself struggling with any of the skills mentioned above, Bakersfield College offers countless resources for students needing academic assistance. “The Habits of Mind” app can be used to learn to organize your time and schedule assignments effectively. The Tutoring Center offers one free session per week for students and many classes offer additional supplemental instruction. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Ask your professors questions and seek out resources to help you understand the course material better. Your professors are there to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

Finally, it can be tempting to fill your schedule with as many classes and activities as possible, but it will ultimately lead to failure. Working overtime, overbooking appointments, and running to each class results in burnout. In order to avoid overwhelming yourself with responsibilities, you have to understand your limits. Know how many hours of sleep you need and how many hours of class you can attend comfortably. With all these skills in tow, you’ll be prepared for a successful semester!