Tips for the Spring Semester: Stay on Top

Jovana Espinoza

After a relaxing and well-deserved winter break, we are back and ready to begin a new semester. The fall 2019 semester was my first at CSU Bakersfield, and as a transfer student, I was not entirely sure what to expect. My first semester taught me a lot, and there are three pieces of advice I would like to share with incoming freshmen, transfer students, and international students to make their transition a little easier.
First, planning is everything. A college student’s life is often portrayed as stressful and hectic. It can be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean college students should accept this and expect it to be the reality of their entire college experience.
“Only 1.6 percent of undergraduates reported that they felt no stress in the last 12 months,” according the article “Stress in College for 2019: How to Cope” on the Western Governors University website.
Speaking for myself, I do not enjoy living in a constant state of stress and anxiety, and I managed to avoid it for the most part last semester. I quickly saw what worked and what wouldn’t. My first week at CSUB, I felt overwhelmed with the amount of assignments, the fast-approaching due dates, and all the readings that I needed to get done for all my classes. I have never been an organized person, but this would no longer work for me. I realized that I had to get organized.
“Take your first year seriously. My tip is: use a planner and look at the syllabi to fill in important dates,” Lisset De La Rosa, 20, liberal studies major, said.
If this is too much work, you can always do as I did and compile syllabi into an improvised booklet to use directly as a planner. I printed all the syllabi, colored-coded each, and stapled them together to keep track of my assignments throughout the semester. Using this booklet as a guide, I felt less stressed about missing an assignment or not completing the reading.
The second thing to know is that time management is crucial. You have to learn to use your time wisely if you intend to have a productive semester. This is more difficult than it sounds, but it can make the difference between passing and failing. Using your time productively doesn’t necessarily mean spending the entire day with our nose stuck in a book, however. Successful time management means prioritizing the most important and pressing tasks. When a professor gives extra time to complete an assignment, use that time to either complete the assignment or get ahead of the next one instead on browsing social media platforms. But effective time management also means knowing when to take a break. If a break earlier is what you need to work productively later, scheduling some downtime into your regular routine can be time well-spent, too.
“Start everything early and take study breaks if needed. That’s how I retained my sanity,” Joy Gamble, 24, English major, said.
Finally, and probably the one most students have difficulty doing, be prepared to sacrifice your social life. Prioritize schoolwork over a social life. There is much more freedom in college. College students are adults, and you choose what you do with your time. Some professors might not even take attendance, so it seems easy to blow off a class and go hang out with friends, family, or a significant other.
“Don’t skip class because that’s everything. My friend and I took a class together and we did the same on the exams, but she got a higher overall grade because she would go to class,” Eunice Carcamo, 20, psychology major, said.
Professors do remember the people who show up to class consistently and notice who is putting in the effort even when they don’t take attendance regularly. Going to class is not very difficult to do, and can make a difference between a C and a B. Even if you think you’re doing poorly, just keep showing up. It really does make a difference.
Staying on top of our work ensures that we do not live in a constant state of stress. Although these tips have been given before, I reiterate them to emphasize their importance in surviving a semester (or eight) at CSUB. Ultimately, there are only 16 weeks in a semester—which is truly not much time—so giving our undivided attention and energy to every class at hand is not as difficult as it seems.