We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.
You’ve almost finished packing up your belongings in bags and boxes to head back to college again. It’s exciting to regain the independence that comes with being in school, but it’s also a little nerve-wracking. This may be the end of your first break or the start of an entirely new school year. If you’re a bit worried about getting back in the swing of things, it can help to brush up on a few back-to-school tips for college students.
Plenty of people stress out about starting classes and juggling the many demands of being in school. With these 10 back-to-school tips, you’ll get a better idea of how to hit the ground running. When you begin new classes with a game plan, you’ll feel equipped to face anything.
1. Review Each Syllabus
Every class starts the semester with a syllabus, so make sure you review each one. They’ll contain information that differs with each professor, especially for virtual classes. One instructor may never accept late work, while others are okay with pushing a deadline if you give them a heads-up beforehand. Your understanding of each syllabus could make or break your academic success in each class, so highlight the differences and write them down somewhere you can quickly look them up if you have any questions.
2. Create Your Calendar
Some students try to get through the year without a planner, but it rarely works. Creating a personal calendar will help you keep track of all your deadlines, as well as club events and dates you’ll travel home. Decide if you prefer a virtual or physical planner, then save the most important dates that you might forget otherwise.
You can start by logging all the deadlines listed in your course calendars. Although they may change depending on what happens during the semester, it’s much easier to erase or adjust deadlines than fail a course because you missed a few crucial assignments. It may also help to highlight deadlines and events with different colors so you can glance at your planner and know what’s coming up without reading every detail.
3. Refresh Your Study Habits
Think about how you’ve studied for classes in the past. If you’ve never felt successful at it, you can try research-backed study techniques that students use to ace their classes. You might refresh your habits by trying flashcards or self-quizzing instead of rereading your textbooks until you fall asleep in the library. Time-tracking can also help boost your study productivity.
It’s also essential to study in the right environment. You may remember things more easily when reading in a quiet, reserved room at the library or listening to instrumental music through your headphones. Try something new to see what you like and what works for your preferred learning method.
4. Structure Your Sleep Schedule
You won’t be able to study effectively or feel your best if you don’t have a healthy sleep schedule. Instead of pulling all-nighters with endless cups of coffee or energy drinks, set a hard limit on how late you focus on homework. You’ll feel ready to study and more easily memorize class material with a full night’s sleep. Your brain needs that time to reset and prepare for the next day, so take care of your mental health with regular nightly rest.
5. Ask All the Questions
Professors may teach hundreds of students every semester, depending on if they instruct small classes, lectures or both. They won’t remember every person, but you should still contact them at the beginning of the semester. It’s the perfect opportunity to clarify the basic rules and expectations outlined in their syllabus while showing you’re an engaged student. They’ll appreciate not having to explain the basics later in the semester and may let you readjust a few deadlines or retake a test if they know you’re an inquisitive, hardworking student.
6. Define Your Distractions
Distractions are a college student’s biggest adversary. Define your distractions by thinking about your previous semester or things that keep you from focusing on your work. You can download apps that block social media for a predetermined length of time or turn off your notifications so nothing tears you away from your studies until you finish for the day. This might mean ignoring a few texts from friends, but you can always respond later and let them know you had to power through a study session.
7. Consider Your Diet
It might seem out of place, but one of the best back-to-school tips for college students is to keep up with your health.
Recent research found that college newcomers gain three to seven pounds during their freshman year. You might want to eat through all the pizza in the dining hall or swipe your student card for burgers and fries, but your diet affects your academic success. If you feel sluggish and sick, you won’t have the energy or focus to study.
Start this semester with a priority on healthy eating. Drink water regularly, eat foods from every food group and balance your diet with exercise to feel great and study hard.
8. Make a Proactive Promise
Becoming proactive could be what you need to do this academic year. Instead of gradually falling behind on homework and skipping classes, make a promise to yourself to become more proactive. Communicate with your professors about your questions and look ahead on your calendar to schedule your work shifts or club activities. When you remain proactive about your schedule and education, you’ll fly through college with much less stress than other students.
9. Start an Academic Journal
Journaling can positively impact your mental health, but it can also help you retain information. When you finish a round of flashcards or use other studying methods, write the information in an academic journal. As you write everything down and read it again, you’ll remember the content better because you went over it a second time.
Researchers discovered that writing slows down your thought processes, which helps you retain the information more readily than if you typed your notes in a matter of seconds. Give it a try, and you’ll have a helpful tool you can also use to reflect on course material before exams.
10. Try to Stay Social
Focusing on your classes, jobs and internships is always smart, but it’s also important to stay social. Don’t waste your college years by spending every night in your dorm or the library. Giving yourself occasional breaks to have fun with your friends and connect with the local community will relieve your stress and refresh your spirit so you can get back to studying with the energy you need.
Can’t meet with anyone in person? Arrange for video chat hangout sessions, video game contests or virtual happy hours with your friends to stay in touch even when you can’t socialize in a public setting.
Find Success With These 10 Back-to-School Tips for College Students
It takes time to find the right balance between devoting yourself to your learning, social life and career opportunities. Give yourself the grace to adjust as the days and weeks go on. You’ll find a natural balance to everything in your life by using these 10 back-to-school tips to make this your best year in college yet.