A new semester means new opportunities to learn and grow. Things may be different this semester than in semesters past, but there are still a few tips and tricks that stand the test of time.
Here are a few things you can do this semester to stay productive, organized, and healthy—all while managing your money!
Keep an eye out for any budget changes
Many colleges are changing the way they hold classes. Some colleges are only having online classes, while others are requiring in-person classes. Many colleges will be providing a mix of both in-person and online classes.
This all means that you might have to keep a closer eye on specific areas of your budget. For example, if you’re taking online classes only, you may be able to live at home and save money on rent.
If living at home isn’t an option, you might save money by not having to travel to classes each week. You may, however, have to upgrade your internet service to ensure you can attend virtual lessons and complete online homework.
If your campus is open and you have in-person classes, you may spend less on your internet bill by using campus Wi-Fi. Just be sure to account for increased on-campus meals and transportation costs in your monthly budget.
Get (and stay) organized
“Syllabus week” is a great time to get your semester schedule mapped out. Besides some homework, it’s usually the calmest point in the semester (as far as assignments and due dates go). Take this time to get organized.
A good place to start getting organized is your study space. Determine where you’re most productive. That could be at a desk in your room, on the couch, or in the library on campus. Wherever it is, your study space should make you feel productive and allow you to work without distractions.
Along with a productive study space, an organized calendar will help you manage and conquer your assignments this semester. Read each syllabus for each class you’re taking, and mark all the important due dates, exam days, and project deadlines for each class on one calendar.
Use your smartphone or laptop’s calendar app to create different labels for each class and add detailed descriptions. Make note of things like:
- Whether the class is in-person or remote
- What times your classes are
- Major exam/project due dates
- Scheduled time needed to complete assignments
- Reminders to study and turn in homework
Another important set of dates to add to your calendar are your add/drop deadlines. During the add/drop period, any courses you remove from your schedule will be fully refunded, if you’ve already paid for them.
Also, removing courses during this period doesn’t show up on your transcript. After the add/drop period ends, any courses you drop will show up as a “withdrawal.”
When it comes to your calendar, keep it updated. Make time each week to add important upcoming dates and deadlines and ensure everything’s accounted for.
Keep yourself safe and healthy
If you’re like many other students, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of physical and mental health in college to your attention. This semester, your health should remain a top priority.
Early on this semester, determine your comfort level with attending in-person classes and other events. Make arrangements to meet your health needs where possible.
Stay up-to-date on the latest health guidelines from your college, your local public health organizations, and national organizations like the CDC.
As always, try to eat well and get the right amount of sleep. According to the CDC, college students should be getting at least seven hours of sleep every night. Combine adequate sleep with a diet of healthy, nourishing foods to boost your mental health and academic performance.
And speaking of mental health, remember to check in with yourself often throughout the semester.
If you feel that the pressure from school and other responsibilities is becoming too much to handle, do not hesitate to talk to someone you trust. This could mean talking to:
- A close friend
- Your doctor
- Your professors
- A campus mental health professional
If you feel that you or someone you know are in immediate danger due to a mental health crisis, do not hesitate to call your campus or community police for assistance.
Staying healthy this semester can make a world of difference. By staying mindful of your physical and mental well-being, you’ll ensure that you get the most out of your college experience.
Tying it all together
Like any semester, there will likely be stressful moments—but there will also be great times with friends and classmates. By staying on top of your budget, keeping your important dates organized, and prioritizing your health, you’ll be on track for success.
I am a Financial Coach for college students and parents. I am an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®) and received my BBA in Management from Texas State University. I help students understand their financial aid and help them develop a plan to achieve their educational and financial goals. I was a first-generation college student, so I have a personal understanding of some of the struggles students face.
Working in the financial aid industry for 13 years has given me the opportunity to work with students at different points in their life from starting college to graduating and finding a job — all the way through helping them repay their student loans and save for the future.
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