Easy Ways To Prepare For Your Next Academic Year
Suddenly summer seems to be slipping away and now classes are just around the corner again. How did that happen?! Don’t fear, this year is going to be OUR YEAR. Whether you’ve still got a month left or only a week until it’s full steam ahead all over again, I’ve got plenty of tips for how you can get a head start, and get your head in the game.
Back to school shopping is arguably the best kind of shopping and it’s the ultimate highlight of classes starting up again. Whether you’re fishing out last year’s folders and notebooks, or piling up a trolley full of school supplies, make sure you have everything you need to get started when classes roll around. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of stationery checklists to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Are you the creative type? If you’ve got a bit of extra time (or you want to procrastinate doing everything else on this list) then how about customising your supplies? Decorate your folders, create title pages for your notebooks, plaster your backpack with patches. Make your supplies YOURS, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them during the next year of classes.
Don’t let your organisation stop at actual ‘stuff’. When was the last time your organised your laptop? Your Google Docs? Ok, if you’re anything like obsessively-organised me, then it was probably this morning, but for the rest of you normal lot it’s time to channel your inner Leslie Knope and set aside an hour or so to get folders set up for all of your classes, sort out the mess in your Google Drive, and please, please, PLEASE, delete those 4,000 emails from Groupon in your inbox. How do you live like that?
DO YOUR READING
There’s no better way to get a headstart on next year than working through your reading lists before classes start. When your workload starts to pile up, it’s a great relief to know that you’ve got one less thing to read that week. Want to get started but the reading lists haven’t been released yet? Check out last year’s lists. Chances are they won’t change too much and if they do, then you’ve done secondary reading – win win!
Go easy on the reading lists though – you don’t want to read everything and then start your classes and realize you don’t remember any of it. As a literature major who reads at least four books a week, I personally pick a couple from each reading list, usually the longest ones, and get them out of the way over the summer so I’m left free to read the shorter texts during term time.
If you’re doing a dissertation this year, summer is the best time to do some reading and research as you’re free from classes and your workload is lighter. Just make sure you keep your notes neat and organised so that when it comes to crunch time you’re not pulling your hair out, wondering where that quote came from.
REVIEW YOUR WORK
You’ve just spent a year abroad doing assignments for completely different teachers and possibly in a completely different format to those you’d do at home, so it might be a good idea to read over your work and markings from previous years. Not only does this reacquaint you with the kind of writing style and format that your home university expects, but it’s a great way to pinpoint areas for improvement. Find feedback from past assignments and jot down what you did well, and what you need to work on. Then, come essay time next year, you’ll have these pointers ready to refer back to and guide your writing.
If you’re anything like me and literally all of my friends, the second classes end for summer you forget how to reference and use citations. It doesn’t help that my mix of subjects means I use three different referencing systems during the course of a semester and am constantly having to remind myself about how to use each one whenever I write an essay. See above for an accurate representation of me realising I’ve referenced an entire essay with the wrong referencing system. Don’t be like me. Take a moment to re-familiarise yourself with the referencing system(s) you’re expected to use when it comes to essay time and it’ll save you a lot of stress on deadline day.
LOOK AT EXTRACURRICULAR’S
What better way to get excited about the upcoming year than to explore all the fun stuff you can do outside of the classroom? Sure, you can wait until the Freshers Fair, where all the clubs and societies get together to encourage sign ups from new members, but these can be packed full of people all trying to get their hands on freebies like pens, stress balls, and sweets, so sometimes you end up missing a great little society that gets lost amongst the crowd. Plan ahead by looking at your Student Union’s website to find out what societies, sports, and clubs are on offer and then make a beeline for their sign-up sheet before you go scrounging for freebies at the fair. Don’t see anything you fancy? Research how to start your own society so that you’re ready to get it up and running as soon as the semester starts.
EMAIL YOUR TUTORS
If you’ve spent a year abroad, sending a couple of friendly and inquisitive emails may be a good way to remind your favourite lecturers of who you are. Of course, it’d be a bit weird emailing them like, “REMEMBER ME?!” so use a simple question about the course to get in there and remind them you exist. Ask if a different edition of a textbook is acceptable, or let them know that you really enjoyed a text on the reading list (because you’re so on top of things you’ve already started the reading!) so do they have an recommendations for similar books.
Approaching your lecturers before classes start puts you on good footing for the semester but can also put you at the forefront of their mind when looking for help with projects. I emailed one of my lecturers in the spring asking if he was planning to continue running a club from the previous year, and a few months later he asked me to help record interviews with writers and academics at a conference for a very, very popular TV show… you know the one… *whispers* “dragons”… So trust me, open a line of communication with your lecturers and make sure they know who you are from day zero because it could very well open some awesome dragon-sized doors for you later.
Are you doing anything else to prepare for the next academic year? Or are you just trying to fit in as much sleep as possible before those dreaded early alarms have to start again? Let me know in the comments!