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Preparing for a New Semester

Hi everyone! My name is Jaime (she/her), I’m in my fourth year of Honours Life Sciences, and I am the VP Administration this year. Within my past 4 years of University, I’ve spent A LOT of time trying to figure out the best way to prepare and organize myself at the start of each semester. I always am optimistic at the start of a new semester since it is an opportunity to start fresh and learn from what did/did not work for you in the past, and I’ve made a list of my best tips and tricks to help you all succeed in this upcoming semester.

To begin, I always start with decluttering my digital spaces (computer desktop, notion, etc.) and creating new folders for my upcoming classes. By having these course folders readily made on your computer, you can ensure that all of your course documents are organized and can be easily found later on. Once you have a system in place for how you’ll organize your course documents for the year, it is helpful to read through all documents on Avenue and download the syllabus for future reference. Personally, I like to organize these digital spaces by either using a desktop template and manually creating folders for my classes, or by using one of my favourite digital tools - Notion. Notion can be used online on all your devices or as a desktop application, and it functions as a digital workspace. The best part is that as university students we all get a premium plan for free! Here are some examples of how I use both of these strategies:

This is super helpful for visualizing your to-do’s and documents at a glance, and for keeping all of your resources in one place.

The most important way to prepare, in my opinion, is to create some type of spreadsheet or document that clearly outlines all course deadlines (tests, quizzes, assignments) for each class. It can be helpful to colour code your classes, and sort the list of deadlines in terms of most recent - most distant deadlines. I also like to make a separate, but similar style spreadsheet outlining all readings/topics for the course to keep up with. Here are some examples of what this could look like:

This is SO helpful for planning your week, and ensures that you will never miss a deadline again (plus - it is so rewarding to mark things as being done and see all your progress over the term). In addition to this “masterlist”, I make a weekly to-do list every Sunday to clearly outline what needs to be completed each day of the week for me to stay on track. Having these visuals and time-blocking has made me feel much more efficient, especially when I am overwhelmed and rushed to complete tasks.

I hope that these strategies will help some of you succeed this semester, and I wish you all the best of luck with everything! Thank you all for reading! :)

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