How to Prepare for a Successful Semester in College

This post contains affiliate links. This just means I’ll make a small commission if you purchase through my link. You won’t get charged a cent more! Thank you for supporting A Wanderer’s Adventures. 

I’ve always loved the back-to-school season. I’m probably a huge school nerd, but there’s something about preparing for a new semester that I’ve always found both relaxing and exciting.

Click through to find out how to prepare for a successful semester in college!

Whether it’s your first or last semester, preparation is the key to success in college. It’ll help you get through tough times and prepare for the worst.  Thankfully, there are things you can do to make sure you start your semester on the right foot! Here are few things that you should do to prepare for a successful semester!


Buy all your school supplies

Buying school supplies is one of my favorite parts of going back-to-school. I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved buying cute stationary. It gets me so excited for the new semester (because I cannot wait to use the supplies I’ve bought). Even if you’re not sure what you’ll need for each class, there are a few staples that you just cannot go without, like these pens. Notebooks, highlighters, pens, loose-leaf sheets, a planner, and cute school bag are only some of the must-haves you’ll need, no matter what your classes are. So stock up before it’s too late! It’s never too early to buy cute stationary. 😉

Want to know what are my other essential supplies for a successful semester? Make sure to read this post.

Print your syllabi

If your professors are anything like mine, chances are that they’ll send you the class’s syllabus at least a week in advance. Even if your mind is probably not into it, browse through it! I’m not saying you have to read every word (that’s what the first lecture is for), but there are a few sections that you should read before heading into your first class, such as the required readings and the assignments and schedule for the semester.

I always make sure to have a printed copy of all of my syllabi. It can come in handy when you need to check when the next exam is. Not all your professors will give you a printed copy on the first class, so don’t take any chances and print it yourself (and bring it to class!). Your first class of the semester is likely to be about your professor going through the syllabus with the class, so I always make sure I bring pens and highlighters so I can take notes. Mark everything the professor says it’s important – you might thank yourself later!

Walk around campus and find your classes

If you’re new to campus, you’ll probably want to walk around campus a few days before classes begin to get yourself familiar with it. Print your schedule or save it in your phone and search around campus to find where your classes are. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot more confident on the first day knowing where you’re going! Even after a few semesters, there are still classes within my faculty/campus that I just don’t know where are located. I still take a few moments before class to walk around and try to find them!

Organize your planner

I think by now we have established that I’m a type-A person, which means that I need my planner to get my life together.  What I love to do before every semester is figuring out how I’m going to organize it. My organization system is pretty straightforward, but I always try to see what worked and what didn’t last semester and see how I can improve it. I always make sure to write every class I have down and pencil in assignment due dates and exams beforehand. That gives me a better overview of the semester. I definitely recommend organizing your planner as soon as possible so you don’t start the semester stressed and overwhelmed!

Start waking up early

During the summer, our sleeping schedule can become a bit hectic. Depending on how you spend your days, chances are you’re not used to waking up at 6 a.m. anymore (and don’t even talk about going to bed before midnight!). Sleep is a key to a successful semester. That is why you should start waking up early before classes start so you can get back into your routine. Start by aiming to wake up 10 minutes earlier every day. Soon enough, you’ll have almost no problem waking early again! Need more tips to become an early bird? I wrote an entire post about becoming a morning person.

Start looking up your textbooks

I know the whole textbook situation is a whole lot different in the States than it is in Quebec. So I’m probably not the best person to give you advice on the topic. But I know that, depending on your major, textbooks can be really expensive.  The only thing I can tell you is: don’t necessarily buy all the books that are stated in your required reading list. There are many other options out there that are more budget-friendly, such as renting, buying used textbooks, or checking them out of the library. A general rule of thumb is that if you’re only going to use it once and never touch it again, don’t buy it. But if it’s book you’ll be using all semester long and that you might even use for other classes, then maybe you can think about investing in them.

Also, wait until after your first class to buy anything. More often than not, your professors will tell you which books you should buy, and which ones are not going to be used. I would start looking up your options early just to know what you can do, but don’t make a move before you have confirmation from your professors!

Catch up with your friends

If your friends and you have been apart all summer because you live in different cities or states (or countries?!), then you probably have a lot to catch up on. Take a few hours at the beginning of the semester to catch up with your friends before it becomes too crazy. Having a circle of supporting people is key when it comes to your success in college, so make sure you dedicate your friends enough time! Catching up with your college friends will help you to prepare for a successful semester. Do one (or more) of the steps above with them! You’ll be double productive. 🙂

Because I want you to have the best semester ever, here are some more posts to help to prepare for a successful semester written by some of my favorite college bloggers!

What are your tips to prepare for a successful semester?

  • While I’m no longer in college, the tip about starting to wake up early again was SO important and still applies after a long vacation and going back to work. Great post!

    • Thank you Lindsay! I totally agree – this tip can apply to more than one situation!

  • I’ve just finished uni and reading this has made me so nostalgic! I can’t believe I’m not going to get that back to school feeling again, buying all the stationery and catching up with friends you’ve barely seen for 6 weeks is so much fun!
    Tara xo

    • I’m studying abroad this fall so it’s going to be so weird not to have my last back-to-school in another country and university! I’m a senior so I’ll never get to experience this again unless I go to grad school (which is not in my plans right now).

  • I know this is irrelevant, but I miss Oswald. Please bring it back!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I personally love the new fonts! Sorry you’re missing Oswald. :/ I keeping it for my Pinterest graphics though! 🙂

      • Yeah the new fonts are good too, but there’s something that I love about Oswald.

  • Such a great post! I definitely agree with waiting until the start of the semester to purchase textbooks. In my first semester I was “required” to have the latest edition of a textbook, but it turned out that I only needed the online access code that was in it; the book remained untouched for the rest of the semester, and I’m pretty sure I could have bought the access code separately (and for a lot cheaper)!
    Thanks for featuring my class schedule post in here, as well!

    Charlotte |

    • So glad you enjoyed, Charlotte! As a student in Quebec, the whole textbook thing seems to be a whole lot easier. I don’t know if it’s just because of my major (communications), but textbooks seem to be a lot cheaper here! There are some semesters where I didn’t even need to buy anything except maybe a novel or two for required reading. And thanks for submitting your post! 🙂

  • 100% agree with your tip on finding your classes. I help the freshmen move-in and one of out jobs is to take them on tours of their class schedules. Also, thanks for featuring my blog post!

    • It’s so helpful! I honestly wish someone had done that for me when I first arrived on campus! Hopefully, I knew someone how had been here before and they did a little tour for me and my friends, but I still ended up looking for my classes when time arrived, haha. And you’re very welcome!