In the beginning of the semester, when the weather can be at its worst, starting off motivated is twice as important. (Image via Northeastern College)

Winter break is the holy grail for all college students. With all of the intense readings, exams and papers scattered throughout the fall, a student’s mental stability begins to really push its limits.

Thankfully, the much-needed breather after the oddly lengthy fall semester marks the holidays for many people. This means returning home, kicking back on your childhood sofa and relaxing in your nostalgic bedroom that was probably converted into a sibling’s new hangout spot or your family’s own storage unit. Despite these bittersweet things, winter break always comes in clutch.

But of course, with a month off of school between the fall and spring semester, it can be pretty difficult to find your way back to your college routine, which is different than your worry- and school-free zone. So, here’s how to bounce back into the best mindset for a new semester in the new year.

1. Clean Up (Seriously)

First, whether you cleaned your dorm before vacationing home or not, go ahead and start fresh again. A simple run of a broom, mop and vacuum will for sure be the easiest task. Empty out your fridge and clean up your restroom. Whip out some Febreeze, Glade, wax melts or the Bath and Body Works three-wick candle you got for Christmas and light it up! It’s best to start with a literal fresh start, because it will make everything else to come so much easier.

2. Unpack

After lugging all of your stuff back inside your dorm, unpack all of your things again — everything from your favorite pajamas to the new ones you were gifted. Really get to unpacking and storing everything where it goes. Fold or hang your clothes neatly and put your shoes up in whatever way you store them, as well as any toiletries or snacks.

Do not get back to your dorm and immediately have a mess from poor unpacking or a post-travel slump; that defeats the purpose of cleaning the familiar space around you in the first place. If your physical environment is fresh and clean, your headspace will be too, so why not start with positive surroundings for the new spring semester?

3. Navigate Class Logistics

Next, a new semester means new professors, classrooms and courses. Take a look at your spring schedule and see if you have any professors you’ve already taken. It might not seem ideal if they weren’t the best teachers, but some professors are golden. If you’ve had them in other classes and know them fairly well, then your new course will more than likely be a pleasant one, plus, it will never hurt you to talk and connect with professors. In the future, knowing a couple professors really well can benefit you and be crucial to your career path, so don’t be afraid to make use of those office hours professors always urge you to use!

As for classrooms, make sure you know where you will be headed come the “first day.” Buildings are often mazes and mazes of corridors, study areas and restrooms, and that’s not even mentioning the confusing way that universities number hallways and lecture halls per building. Because it is an entirely new semester, this also means traffic not only in the parking lots, but in the halls as well. The more you know which way you’re headed and how long it will take to maneuver around your campus to get from room to room, the better.

4. Stock Up Supplies

Something that people might easily forget about when entering the spring semester are course supplies like textbooks or journals. Once completing a semester of five or nine or however many courses you signed your soul to, you might have that realization of, “Oh, I have to rent more books again!” Don’t fret, just be sure you remember you check in on your necessary reading materials for the new semester at your school’s bookstore or online (Amazon Rentals are a blessing).

Other important semester materials include journals. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “I have my laptop,” but I promise that journals will come in handy if you want to better things like study habits or organization. It’s cliché, but color-coding journals to classes is super helpful, especially when you throw matching folders into the mix for important handouts or worksheets given to you in lectures.

5. Add Resolve to Your Resolutions

A new spring semester also means a new year, which brings resolutions that no one really knows how to keep. Don’t let this be you! After years of seeing tried and failed resolutions ranging from the ever-so-popular “eat healthier,” “exercise more” and “read more,” to the less famous “floss daily” and “stop biting my nails,” it’s safe to say most resolutions never see March 1, let alone Dec. 31. Instead, set goals, both short and long term for your year.

For example, if you weren’t too fond of your study habits or how you managed your time, set goals for yourself. Plan your days by the hour to do specific tasks outside of classes like studying for certain subjects, reading, meals, cleaning, etc. Set your own reminders or download lifestyle or organizational apps to help you. Use the Notes app to make daily lists, because nothing is better than the satisfaction of having everything on a list checked off and complete.

Studying in groups can be a frightening thought, but if you’ve got the right friends and drive to succeed in the class, group studying can be the best tool to get through a killer course. Make use of your library and study rooms, meet up around campus or stop by a coffee shop and dive into studying. Even the simplest chat or discussion about course content can be beneficial to you because, oftentimes, other people see things in ways that you previously hadn’t before, and vice versa.

Want to read a few books for your own pleasure every month? Dedicate the effort! One thing I’ve seen that works is to create a table for yourself. With a few spare minutes, create your own “To Be Read” chart filled with books you want to conquer through the spring semester. Because you made it yourself, it will visually appeal to you and you’ll be more likely to go through with your reads.

Just to be extra with a little hint of resolutions, make room to write down small things like the dates you started and finished reading a book and the number of pages you indulged in total. At the end of the semester (or year), you’ll be able to look at your lovely chart and reflect on all of the words consumed by you. Add all of the page numbers together and bask in your grand accomplishment.

All in all, Jan. 1 marks a time for change for many people. For a lot of students, it’s the transition from one step in their degree to the next. One thing for sure, though, is that because it rolls in right after the new year, many students see the spring semester as a fresh start. If that sounds like you, then take yourself seriously and make spring 2019 the best semester of your college career.

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