The Collegiates Guide to Preparing for Next Semester.

If you’re in college you’re probably either finishing up your finals or already at home trying to forget the trauma this past semester put you through. Unless you graduated after this semester (and if you did, congratulations!) I have some bad news for you: You’re going to have to do it all again. Don’t get me wrong. For the most part college is great and fun and honestly amazing. But with all of those great jolly qualities comes: due dates, anxiety, hundreds of assignments, little sleep, and stress.

Luckily those not so happy parts of college can be either avoided, or at the very least minimized with just a bit of extra planning. I have said this a thousand times before, but I am an organization junkie. I love having planners and folders and notebooks with very specific purposes so that my head doesn’t explode due to stress. My method of preparation may not work for everyone – but I certainly do hope that it will help a lot. I am publishing this with plenty of time before the next semester starts so that you have all of break to prepare.

Check out for tips on how you can start the semester off on the right foot! Pin now and read later - you're not going to want to miss this!

Your tools for next semester:

  • A planner
  • A five subject notebook (two if you have more than five classes)
  • Fresh loose leaf paper (lined or unlined, depending on your preference)
  • A White Board
  • Sticky Notes
  • Folders (If there aren’t ones built into your five subject)

A Planner

I have gushed over the merits of a planner time and time again – so I won’t bore you too much with that. What I will do is give you a very important task to do after syllabus week. Once you’ve compiled all of the syllabi for each one of your classes, take an hour to sort through every due date, exam, and quiz and write them down in y0ur planner. I do different colors for each class, and highlight the exams. This is going to be so helpful in the future. Having every important date in one place will help you manage your time and know what to expect in the week ahead.

If you want to see my full post on how to use a planner you can check it out here. Prefer a technological approach? Try Google Calendar.

White board

Now that you have all of your due dates organized in one place it’s time to prepare your whiteboard. I am planning on writing an in depth post on how to use your whiteboard for organization, but I’ll map out a few key tips:

  • Until you have your schedule memorized; have it written on the top of your whiteboard with a ‘week at a glance’ type layout.
  • At the start of every week copy due dates down and erase them as you finish them.
  • Add any other commitments like work, clubs, etc.
  • Write a to-do list at the beginning of every week.

White boards are great because of how flexible they are. Finish something and you can completely erase it. That feature is great because you have a visual cue reminding you of your commitments for the week so you can keep that in mind before making plans.

The Five Subject Notebook.

Why carry a five subject notebook as opposed to five one subjects? Easy: Organization. It’s easy to keep track of your notes, handouts, and assignments if they are all in one place. If you have five one subject notebooks and five folders it’s easy to be in a rush one morning, grab the wrong one, and then you’re out of luck.

I use these notebooks which are great because they have five subjects and folders separating each subject so that I don’t have the need to carry around more than one notebook and all of my papers are together always.

Sticky Notes.

If you don’t already use sticky notes – you should probably start. They are great for jotting ideas down, little reminders, and tabbing pages on books. I have some in my desk, some in my backpack, and chances are there are some within ten feet of me at all times. No lie. They are that important. At the very least use them to jot down the ideas that ‘you’re sure you’ll remember.’ Because if you’re anything like me you actually aren’t going to remember your brilliant idea unless you write it down.

Keep this in mind for next semester:

  • Your grades don’t define you. That’s not to say they aren’t important – but it’s so easy to get so caught up with them that you forget that there is more to you than the grades you are making. Trust me – I’ve been there. If you are trying hard and doing everything in your power to do well then you should be incredibly proud of that because you’re doing more than most.
  • Reward yourself. You need to celebrate your accomplishments. Finish that incredibly dry reading? Watch some YouTube videos. Passed that test you studied endlessly for? Time to unwind and go on a walk.
  • If you feel bad talk to someone. The stress gets to us all. You’re not alone and you’ll get through this. Don’t have anyone to talk to? Then talk to me. I am more than happy to be there for any of you if you need it, lets be friends!
  • The semester isn’t over until it’s over. If your grades are down then fight to get them up. Talk to the professor about extra credit (hey, you might get lucky,) study your booty off for the exams, and don’t let yourself get behind on assignments. You can do this!

Good luck next semester – you will do great! Do you have any tips on how others might make it through the semester successfully? Share them below!!

And if you found this post helpful I’d be so appreciative if you subscribed or came to say hello on one of my social media sites, I love talking to you all! Thank you so much for reading!

  • tiff

    So many great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    x Tiff (Creator & Editor-In-Chief @

  • Anne Louise

    Love it! And I’m glad I’ve found a fellow student blogger out there, ;).

    • Thank you!! 🙂 I know – I have recently started finding a bunch of bloggers who are in college making their blogs super relatable and I couldn’t be happier! I’m so happy we found each other!!

  • Planners are a student’s best friend. I know a few people who don’t use them and I get so confused how they keep up with everything!

    My only advice with planners is to write things in pencil or use technology. This semester, I had a professor quit teaching for that semester, so I got a new prof, new syllabus, new everything. I had to go through and scratch out some test assignments because they didn’t fit the new syllabus!

    The Everyday Elegance

    • I completely agree! I would lose my mind without mine!

      And that sounds awful! The super obsessive side of me needs everything written in fine point black ink – and I hate scratching things out! I am so sorry you had to do that, it would have driven me crazy!

      • I’m right there with you! I’m a color code-r and having splotches of orange because I had to scratch out drove me up the wall!

        • Oh my gosh – it would have driven me up a wall too! I color code with highlighters and it would make me so sad to have to scratch that out 🙁

  • Kat (Study-Hack)

    Oh my goodness, Morgan, I love your blog! We are using the same theme, that’s right!
    About planners: I was just thinking about switching over to a filofax. I can never keep a planner long enough to actually finish a quarter: everything is on sticky notes and weekly to-do lists. But I think having a filofax might finally slow me down and help with the sticky note chaos!

    • Oh, thank you so much! And you know, they say great minds think alike! 🙂
      And filofaxes instantly make anybody look so impressive! I am far too intimidated to make the switch. But perhaps when things get more intense in the coming years I’ll suck it up and take the plunge!

      If you do get one let me know if you write a blog post about it – I’d love to see how you use it!! 🙂

  • Meg

    You aren’t kidding about the whiteboard! It’s perfect for outlines and syntax trees. Not that a lot of people are drawing syntax trees, but still!

    • I love it!
      And syntax trees would make most people’s heads spin! But you’re awesome! 🙂

  • Austen

    thank you for reminding us that if we messed up on grades this semester it’ll all be okay. it’s crazy the amount of balancing we have to do on a regular basis and we’re doing our very best 🙂 great site, definitely will keep reading!

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  • tannawings

    Great list and I like the white board idea . That would work great for any groups you ended up in, or any extra things you had to do for a particular class.

  • tannawings

    I think too when preparing for next semester what some people forget is the coser they get to graduation the more they need certain classes to graduate. Remember to have all the prerequisetes done, and register early. Those end classes fill up quickly!

  • Melia

    I like to use 2 notebooks for every class (which is easy for me because Im in JC and I only take 2-3 classes semester).

    1:1 -subject notebook per class, color coded. I use this one for homework. Easy to replace if i overestimate how much homework i’ll be doing, and separate from the other notebooks so I don’t wear down one notebook and end up without paper when i need to write down notes. Process: Do the homework in the notebook, tear out and place in Homework folder.

    1: 3-subject notebook per class, color coded to match the homework notebook. I use this one for revised notes. 3-subject is a good size, i’ve found. it should last me the whole semester. I only write revised notes in this one. revised, for me, is colored and its got both lecture and textbook notes for that chapter integrated into one notebook.

    1: folder per class, also color coded, plus one that doesn’t match any of the other sets. I use the color-coded folders to store passed-back and important papers. I use the non-matching folder for holding homeworks To-Do and Done. I tell myself that I need to have the To-Do side empty and the Done side full to get myself to do the homework.

    1: Binder. I use this for keeping the folders in one place. Its kinda bulky, bu I leave the notebooks in the car so its not so bad.

    Loose Leaf paper. I use these for taking notes in-class. keeps me from using the notes notebook twice, and thus using pages, and keeps what i keep in my backpack to a minimum.

    Pouch with PENCIL, eraser and lead (if mechanical pencil is chosen). I like making sure i have only what i NEED and nothing thats extra. keeps me from goofing off during class. pencil so i can erase, eraser so the one on my pencil isnt the only one, and lead in case i run out. I dont carry pens, because then ill be tempted to doodle and because i want to use pens for the revised notes.

    Agenda: to keep track of assignment due-dates and such. must i explain?

    I also carry flash cards, unused ones are carried in a box to protect them, and used ones are sorted onto one of various rings to keep them organised. these also remain in my car during class. but after class i grab everything and go to the tutoring center so i can study. I lose focus easily so i cant study on my own. I have to have someone with me, to remind me to stay on track, otherwise i get lost with Netflix. As for homework, I haven’t figured that out yet. I didn’t do much last semester and this is the first semester i’m going to be putting ALL of this into place. (ive done this process in bits n pieces over the years). But I think I’ll have time to work in homework after my studying (i have 4 hours between classes twice a week. revised notes should not take me 4 hours, hopefully!). worse case scenario, i visit the campus another day a week and do the homework then. whatever keeps me on track!

  • Mark Todd Tsunokai

    Great tips, used different variations of the ones listed above. As a former Operations Sergeant, for the U.S. Army, I knew about “advanced,” planning procedures and implementation in a military environment, I just “modified,” it to work in a college environment. Worked just fine. Last time I was on campus was 19 years ago. Final grades were two A’s, one A-, and one B+.