4 Steps to Your Best Semester Yet

Feb 2

Learn an effective approach that empowers you to take control of your college experience by setting clear goals, honing your focus, and fostering meaningful connections.

New semesters are full of unknowns, and you can take charge with an active approach by putting in the effort, embracing discomfort, and pushing your boundaries to achieve what matters to you. 
The A.C.E.S approach to starting strong is centered on actions you can take to create success for yourself inside and outside of the classroom. Bonus: It’s easy to remember 😉


Creating clear goals for yourself before the start of a new semester will help you stay focused during the hectic first few weeks. To set the right goals, ask yourself these questions and write down your thoughts: 
  • What do I want to experience? 
  • What do I want to achieve? 
  • Why is this important to me? 


College is full of potential networking contacts. What if you treat your college like it’s a company or organization you work at or partner with — classmates are your colleagues, instructors are trainers or mentors, and campus resources are departments you collaborate with? Imagine the potential.  
  • Make an effort to meet your instructors. You can introduce yourself (in person or by email) and share something you are looking forward to in their class or attend office hours to ask questions or get help. In return, they get to know you, and they can become valuable to your experience in the classroom and beyond when you’re considering references and asking for letters of recommendation. 
  • Talk to your classmates. It’s so helpful to make at least one connection in each class to study with, email/text about concepts, do group projects, or exchange notes with if you ever miss a class. 

  Pro Tip

Use campus resources! They are there for you. Even if you don’t need them now, take time to familiarize yourself with resources that are available to you.  


There are opportunities are all around you. Explore ways to engage early on that will deepen your learning, help manage stress, and develop your skills. 
  • Join a club or organization  
  • Find a volunteer opportunity  
  • Explore part-time job or internship opportunities by reaching out to Career Services staff and ask if your college uses Handshake, a website where you can find job and internship listings
  • Research extracurricular activity options such as sports leagues and fitness classes on-campus
  • Find out if your school’s counseling/wellness center offers workshops on self-care 


Build your strategic thinking muscles with these tips to help you get ahead, manage time, and reduce overwhelm. 
  • The MVP of week 1 is your course syllabus! Reviewing each syllabus asap will give you an idea of what is expected of you during the semester – due dates, types of assignments, tests, and the point value of each task. Click here to learn more about how to read a syllabus the right way.
  • Simplify your life by consistently planning out your priorities each day or week using a calendar app or planner.
  • Study effectively and efficiently. Start assignments right away, even if it’s for 5 minutes. Break assignments, papers, projects, and readings into small steps. Read to learn, not just to finish. Use mind mapping to connect concepts together and use as study guides.
  • Every time you get a grade or test score, reflect on what went well, what didn’t, and what you can change, add or do differently to help your learning and outcomes.
  • Practice taking deep breaths before you study and before taking tests for better focus.  

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