Getting into the swing of the spring semester


Returning to campus after winter break feels like you’ve taken a year or two off and forgotten everything about how to function at college. Bus schedules, class schedules, buying textbooks and notebooks and folders and facing overwhelming uncertainty from every corner.

We all experience some level of confusion in the first week or so of a new semester. Luckily, while the spring semester is technically a new start, you’re not really stumbling around in the dark when it comes to daily routines. Here are a few tips I’ve tried to tell myself around the beginning of a new semester:

I know I get anxious about having the right books for class, but I try to get as much information about my classes before buying the first thing at IUB or TIS. Is your class using a website like Mathematica for homework; do you have to buy an access code? Typically, these codes come with a copy of the textbook in an online format. If you feel you can skip out on a physical copy, simply buying the code can save you money. Especially consider renting textbooks for gen eds, but if the topics interest you, go ahead and consider the books you’re buying as building a personal library. Shop around sites like Amazon by using a textbook’s ISBN (International Standard Book Number)—it’ll save you the headache of having to memorize authors or editions and you’ll most likely save money (keep in mind shipping costs). Double-check at bookstores to make sure they have the correct editions of the textbooks you need.

Do you have awkward gaps in your schedule that you haven’t had to deal with before? Or are you looking at an eternal stretch of back-to-back classes? Try filling the gaps by treating yourself to a cup of coffee or finding a quiet area to recharge and get some work done. Prepare for days where you have many classes in a row by preparing lunch, bringing a water bottle. Finding different ways to keep your energy up helps a lot when figuring out an unfamiliar schedule.

And remember, it’s winter. A 10-minute walk from the dorms to class can seem like a torturous eternity now. Keep in mind that the buses will be packed. Find alternate routes or head out a little earlier to beat the rush. This time of year is a rough time to feel motivated—sure, you just made some New Year’s resolutions, but the sun’s only out for so long and shorts and a hoodie won’t cover you in single-digit-degree weather.

Now’s the time to take care of yourself and keep an eye out for life’s twists and turns, because you haven’t fallen into a regular rhythm yet. But the winter will thaw soon and you’ll be able to work out your schedule. If you can roll out from your toasty covers and brave the cold to class, you’re halfway to securing a solid semester. Good luck!

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