Using one or two weeks of your vacation to prepare for the next semester is always a good idea. I’m not saying you should be reading your textbooks from cover to cover, emailing your teachers, or walking aimlessly around campus, but rather setting up some college fundamentals before the craziness of the new semester begins. Okay so in this article I want to present you a five-step program to kick-start your new year at college and to make sure you’re reinforcing great time management habits, balancing your social life and your academic life and making sure you’re making the most out of your college experience.
5 Steps to ensure to have the best year at college
1. Create your ideal schedule
Okay so maybe by this time you already have an idea of what your schedule will look like in college. Before your semester start, this is actually a great time to start practicing with schedule building and understanding how you can manage your time accordingly and really delve into solid schedule creating skills and create your ideal study routine.
So as you know academic life is usually a daunting experience, so if you start experimenting with different options on how to organize your schedule and understand when during the day you feel like your energy levels are at their highest and lowest, when your first classes start, you’ll already have a solid routine in place.
If you’re unsure where to start I suggest you look into your chronotype first. So knowing your chronotype may have a big impact on how you structure your day, when you schedule tasks, and most of all what you can expect from yourself in terms of energy, creativity, and productivity throughout the day.
Your chronotype is influenced by your PR3 gene and it influences a lot of your internal system as it regulates your body’s production of melatonin.
There are four chronotypes the bear who has a sleeping and waking pattern aligned with the sun, the lion who is the most productive in the morning, the wolf who has its productive peak later in the day in the evening, and a dolphin who has an erratic sleep pattern and fluctuating energy levels.
2. Getting started on your knowledge base
Okay so having a free digital knowledge base is basically a no-brainer right now. Since you know digital tools are really helpful to summarize all of your notes and to share them with your classmates and also with online classes right now having a digital system really makes it all come together.
Although you have a lot of free options out there on how to organize your study in your notes there are three ones that I really recommend and they are notion, obsidian, and click up.
Independently of the one you choose the idea is to pick an organization scheme that allows you to organize information from your classes and other extracurricular activities, create databases for notes, drafts, for projects, and data on all things relevant to your academic life and which also allows you to incorporate files and resources provided by teachers or those you find through your own individual research.
My favorite app for this is the notion which is the only app I’ve been using constantly for about three years, but please know that both obsidian and click up are very powerful alternatives as well.
And for paid apps, I also recommend shovel which is very tailored towards students and is more focused on task management and you also have roam research which is probably one of the best knowledge management software out there but is a bit pricey.
3. Budget for the month and budget for the year
Knowing how to budget and how to manage your personal finances is as important as any class you take in college and now’s the perfect time to really start developing those skills and really start investing in your financial literacy to have the best year at college.
Budgeting for month and year including on and off purchases like textbooks, extra materials, coffee, and then basic expenses will help build a habit of knowing how much you can spend per week and then managing your purchases according to that.
So remember first of all anticipate your expenses. Textbooks and school supplies, transportation, clothing, housing, phone bills, discretionary spanning, coffee, and outings are all things you can start budgeting for.
Also, download an expense tracker and start building the routine of tracking expenses on a daily basis and reviewing them at the end of the month. This will show you whether you’re successfully implementing your budget or not.
And when college starts you’ll already have a few key budgeting and spending principles in place which will be one less headache to take care of when your assignments start piling up.
4. Read the book “How to read a book”
Okay, so mandatory and optional readings are a big part of college life. You get your assignments, you outline the chapters, you do your readings, answer a few questions, and then you can also have a discussion in class, but in most cases does anyone really really know how to properly read a book.
This is particularly important at the college level, so I find it fascinating that so few people including myself were never taught how to properly read a book, especially because the correct methods apply the most to college-level textbooks.
So learning how to read, how to organize your reading, how to analyze a book and then take notes, for me it’s like a top mandatory skill that is essential for college and everyone should learn it to have the best year at college.
It completely changes your reading experience and the way you perceive an author’s message and that can really help you in your grades.
I highly recommend a book called “how to read a book” by Mortimer j Adler which of course will not teach you how to read the English language but rather how to increase your knowledge while reading.
5. Turn your phone into a productive machine to have the best year at college
Okay, so your phone can be your best friend or can be your greatest enemy while you’re trying to study and you’re trying to focus. So you can make sure that you follow a few steps to turn your phone into a really important productivity machine to have the best year at college.
First of all, get a powerful timer app. I think I will forever recommend forest to track productive study sessions. It’s a beautiful timer with a deep work mode that will try to convince you to not leave the app while you’re working.
You can collect different trees with your in-app currency which you earn as you successfully grow trees, which means as you successfully study and then you can add notes to your forest, tag different trees according to the work you’re doing, earn achievements, and even set up your app with a cool widget right in your home screen.
You can also try to hide your social media apps inside a folder or simply delete them from your home screen. If you need to access them you’ll be able to search the apps but hiding them will reduce the temptation to open Instagram, Facebook, or Tik-Tok whenever you read for your phone.
Also, disable distracting notifications from social media accounts and promotional emails and keep a few notifications only.
You can also take your schedule with you on the go by scheduling all classes and assignments on google calendar and getting the widget right on your home screen. If you end up using a time blocking and time batching technique to organize your studies this feature will be useful to provide you with a daily view of all tasks and assignments due that day.
Hey, thanks so much for reading guys. I appreciate the support more than you know and if you’re getting value from this article please share them to spread the word and help your friends to grow better. Happy learning!