For the whole month of winter break the anticipation of spring semester was lodged firmly in the back of my mind; a constant reminder of exciting new possibilities in the new year. Nervousness was certainly a part of it, but I was more excited than anything. The last week of break was spent waiting at home mostly. It was fairly slow and I couldn’t wait to get back to school.
Now that we’re getting back into the swing of things what is there to look forward to about yet another five months of class? The opportunity to start fresh! Every semester at school is tough and maybe things didn’t quite end the way we wanted them to last fall. I know for me personally there are plenty of ways I need to improve on my performance from last semester. This is a chance to take a step back, evaluate last semester objectively, and take two steps forward using everything we learned to round the school year off on a good note.
In addition to New Year’s resolutions I think writing new semester resolutions can be a good way to set goals as we start school again. They can be anything really: targets for improving grades, new clubs to join, or activities to try out. A new semester resolution doesn’t need to be anything specific and for some people it might just involve trying something new, pushing a comfort zone, and exploring a previously unexplored outlet.
Maybe your resolution is something as simple as improving your grades. That’s awesome and a big part of that can be approaching the ‘problem’ of school work from a different angle. Instead of being stuck in a rut, studying the same way as before but just doing more of it (which can be super frustrating and sometimes not all that helpful), think outside the box. Try and go to a tutor, go to professor’s office hours, use an online study tool, color code your notes, or turn it into a quiz game with friends.
Maybe you’re not a visually-oriented learner. Reading just doesn’t stick in your brain, no matter how many times you go over a sentence. That’s ok, some people just don’t work like that. Try recording your professor’s lectures and listening to them over again. Maybe make a song or poem with key terms from your class reading. Take turns with classmates teaching each other material or have long discussions about specific themes and concepts.
Maybe it’s the other way around. Listening to professors talk isn’t helpful at all but images go a long way in helping you learn. Draw pictures, make diagrams and tables, use bright colors, symbols, and anything else that catches your eye to make your class material stick in your brain.
There are so many different ways to approach school work. Try something new and see how it works for you.
Last semester was my first at Whitman. I focused mainly on academics and trying to get accustomed to life here. This semester I want to expand my horizons and (while still giving schoolwork the attention it deserves) have more experiences with extracurriculars. I might join intramural teams, do OP trips (I didn’t do ANY last semester!), and maybe even try out club sports or one of the student publications.
One big thing to keep in mind is that college isn’t just about going to classes and getting a degree. Neither is it about socializing or any other single aspect of the college experience. It’s about this time and part of life as a whole. This is a pretty formative place to be and a pretty important thing to be doing. Regardless of the degree we’re here to get it’s important to be well-rounded and to appreciate the unique opportunities we have here at Whitman.