5 Tips on Having a Successful Start to Your Semester

Do you want to make this semester the best one yet? We have 5 Tips for Having a Successful Start to Your Semester! Whether you are a returning student or this is your first semester at Moraine Park, we want to make sure you have a spectacular semester!

Picture of books on a bookshelf. Text overlay says, "Tip #1 - Get your textbooks."


Buy or rent your text books before the first day of class. You can find out which text book(s) you’ll be needing for your classes by visiting the Moraine Park Bookstore Website. Simply choose your campus, term, department, and course and all of the required materials will be found for you. You can also find out what textbook(s) you’ll be needing by referring to your course syllabus.

Having your text books before the first day of class is important because your instructor may assign a reading or homework from the book on that first day. You might also want to check Canvas a few days to a week before your class starts to check and see if your instructor has any assignments due for the first day of class.

Along with your text books, you will also want the correct materials for the class. The basics such as a pencil or pen, notebook, maybe a highlighter. BONUS TIP: If you have a hard time taking notes quickly, try voice recording your instructor’s lecture. This way you can listen to it after class if you didn’t have time to jot something down.

Picture of a white desk with a 2017 planner, black pen, pencil, and eraser laying on top. Text overlay says, "Tip #2- Read your syllabus."


Instructors will be delighted when they find out you already took time to read over the syllabus before their class. If you find it helpful, print it off and highlight the most important pieces and write questions if you have them. The syllabus should be a basic outline of what you will be learning in the course. If you have any questions, all of our instructors here at Moraine Park are happy to help you.

Remember that syllabus change from class to class, therefore it is important to read all of them. Reading the syllabus will help you understand what you will achieve during the course of your class. Instructors may also include a schedule of assignment due dates, which would be helpful to keep in a safe place as well.

Picture of Moraine Park classroom with a class in session. Text overlay says, "Tip #3 - Find your classrooms."


Whether you’re a returning student or this is your first semester at Moraine Park, it is important to find your classrooms before the first day of class. You can find a floor map of your campus by visiting this link. Printed maps are also available near the main entrance. If you need help finding your classroom, all of the staff at Moraine Park are here to help you. Just ask! You can also schedule a time to come and tour the campus, if that is something you are looking for.

When you find your classroom, you can appropriately choose which parking lot to park in and figure out how much time it takes you to walk to class. After all, you wouldn’t want to be late on your first day of class, which brings us to our next tip.

Picture of student doing homework on laptop. Text overlay says, "Tip #4 - Show up early."


Showing up early, not only shows that you have great time management skills, it also shows your dedication to the class. This is especially important on your first day. Showing up early allows you to introduce yourself to your instructor, choose a comfortable seat, and ask any questions you had about the syllabus.

Showing up early is also a kind and considerate thing to do for the entire semester. Remember that you should always be in your seat and ready to learn when the class officially starts. You wouldn’t want to be losing attendance points because you were tardy.

Picture of a wooden desk with a student planner, headphones, and a keyboard. Text overlay says "Tip #5 - Have a plan / goals."


Start your semester off by setting a few personal goals for yourself. Goals will help you stay motivated and focused when you start to feel overwhelmed. Let’s say, you set a long-term goal of making the Spring 2018 Dean’s List; that’s great, but don’t forget to strategize and set short-term goals that will ultimately help you reach the long-term goal.

Long-Term Goal: Spring 2018 Dean’s List

  • Short-Term Goal: Ask Questions if I don’t understand.
  • Short-Term Goal: Receive an A on Midterm and Final Exam by studying material throughout the course of the class.
  • Short-Term Goal: Do Homework the night it is assigned (AKA don’t wait until the last minute).

Besides setting personal goals for yourself, you should also have an action plan for the entire semester. How much time are you going to have to dedicate to homework each week? What are your study habits going to be? Are you going to join any clubs? Are you working part-time? College is typically a busy time for people and it can be hard to stay organized and keep each of your different classes, work schedule, and personal life balanced.

BONUS TIP: Buy a planner! This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, you can find them at the Dollar Store, Wal-Mart, Staples, etc. How you wish to set up and use your planner is up to you. Here’s what I recommend doing:

  • COLOR CODING: When I write assignments down in my planner, I have a specific color for each class. This way, I don’t have to write, “Psychology Chapter 1 Assignment.” I can write in the specific color I chose for psychology and write, “Chapter 1 Assignment.”
  • MONTHLY PLAN: Before the first of the month, I will visit my calendar on Canvas and write down all of my assignment due dates on a monthly / month-at-glance planner. The assignments will be color-coded according to which class, which makes it easy for me to see when I have assignments due for each class.
  • WEEKLY PLAN: My weekly plan typically consists of homework and assignments I’ll be working on that week. I might have a research analysis due on March 12th, but I will write it down in my planner on March 6th. That way I know I need to spend time working on it. When an assignment is due, I will write it in the appropriate color and I will highlight it. This way I know it is important.

Follow these 5 tips and you are sure to have a successful start to your semester! Share this page with your friends and classmates so they can also have a great semester. Good luck and happy studying!

Written by Brooke Harmsen
Temporary Social Media Specialist "A day without laughter is a day wasted"