How to Start Off the School Year on the Right Foot

By Sara Addis

This academic school year is unlike any other. COVID-19 has forced almost all schools to have online learning. At the University of Illinois, there are a handful of classes that are in person, but most students, myself included, have all virtual classes. Virtual classes can come in many shapes and forms. Many of mine, for instance, are asynchronous, meaning the teacher posts lecture each week, but students can watch these lectures on their own time. Other classes meet online and usually consist of discussion and breakout rooms to discuss class material. With the introduction of a whole new education system, students can take several steps to make sure their school year is a great one!

Staying organized and on top of your assignments is crucial during a time when you are your own boss. Living on your own without in-person classes can make you feel like the day will never end. In order to give 100% and start off the year right, make sure you are watching each professor’s lectures and reading those syllabi. As annoying and tedious as it may seem, a reminder to stay informed on class policies can never be a bad thing! 

But the most essential piece of advice for all students to start off the school year on the right foot is to sit down and write out a weekly schedule. This can be digitized or hand written. This schedule should include when you will watch your lectures — synchronous or not — each day; several periods of time to do out-of-class assignments; due dates for upcoming tests, quizzes, or projects; and finally, but probably most importantly, your schedule should include some time for self-care. Transitions, especially brand new ones, can be overwhelming for anyone. Taking the time out of your day to focus on your well-being can provide you with the mental stability to make it through this semester. 

Another option for students who struggle to maintain calendars is to set a series of reminders for yourself. If you know that relying on a calendar isn’t going to help you make the best of your year, keep testing out other options. Personally, I use a calendar and set reminders for weekly assignment due dates. Finding your perfect fit doesn’t always come right away. It can take students a few weeks to discover how they like to keep track of their daily routines and classes. But it is more important now than ever to take it upon yourself and do your work. Setting yourself up for success this year is key. Start off the school year on the right foot and the rest will follow suit!

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