Starting a New Semester Strong

Posted on February 5th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Jan Bilgen

Hi, everyone! My name is Johanna, and I am the other Leadership intern here at the Student Invovlement Office.


We’re heading into our third week of school here at UW-Whitewater, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start getting yourself prepared for the rest of the semester right here and now. We’re all getting to the point where quizzes, exams, and homework are all starting to become a reality now that syllabi have been fully reviewed and Ice Breaker games have been had for all. While I’m not an accredited expert on academic and personal success, I have a few tips I think may come in handy for everyone out there.


Get Organized

Seems simple, right? Probably the easiest reason why being organized isn’t everyone’s first priority is that it is, in fact, not easy. It requires work, constant reevaluation, and not to mention time. While some people might find that organizational skills come very naturally to them, there are multiple ways to improve your organizational skills in various areas of your life.


When it comes to classwork and homework and group projects, they all seem to have a magical ability to seem like nothing when you only have or two things due, but when it comes to certain weeks, it’s almost impossible to breathe with how much work you have to complete. Ways to avoid the stress of academica aren’t difficult, but super valuable:

  • Use a planner. If you like color coding things, go for it. If you just want to make a daily to-do list in order to cross off tasks as you complete them, that’s equally as great. Know that no one is the same, and that finding your own method of keeping track of things is crucial
  • Plan AHEAD. Put that planner to good use and plan backwards. Do you know there’s going to be a test coming up in two weeks? Start putting 20-40 (depending on your major) minute study breaks 2-3 times a week and when it’s test time, you’ll be much less stressed and prepared to take your test without having to pull an overnighter ahead of time.
  • Communicate. This goes for your team members in group projects as well as your professors. The sooner you understand the people who can definitely affect your grades, the better off you will be.


  • While your first priority make be your academics, it’s important to keep in mind any work obligations. Similarly to the importance of communication in your classes, you should always aim to communicate with your boss or manager as to when your academic responsibilities take precedence to your work duties

Extra circulars

  • If you aren’t involved around campus yet, I have two words for you: Get involved! Not only do you meet like-minded individuals, but you can also gain valuable leadership experience that will make you a shoe-in for any future jobs you may want to apply for. When it comes to be involved; however, it’s important to remember you are a student first and a leader second. Make sure to never overwhelm yourself so that you are unable to study for important classes and tests.

Eat/Sleep Better

While Toppers Pizza and Custard sounds like the prefect date to most people (me included) it’s important to eat as best as you can while you’re away from home. Instead of grabbing that bag of chips, grab an apple or orange. Sleeping a full 6-8 hours is also a great way to make sure this semester is the best one yet. While late night shenanigans are fun, so is being energetic and ready to tackle each day. Sleeping and eating well will give you the energy you need to tackle any complicated math problem and the attention to pay attention through even the most difficult lectures. While it might not make you the happiest short term, in the long run you’ll thank yourself for making a few simple changes to your daily routine. For more tips and advising, also feel free to visiting the University Health and Counseling Center! They have counseling for anything you might need to keep you in the best shape—mind and body—during your stay at UW-Whitewater.

Set Goals

Setting goals is basically in the same basket as you getting involved, but as important as it is to think abot short term commitments, long term goals will keep your semester going for the full sixteen weeks.

As mentioned, everyone is different so you should never hold yourself to anyone’s improvements other than your own. Maybe aim to improve your average semester GPA by .5-1 points! It may seem like a little, but depending where you are, it could really help show you the pay off of hard work. This goal can be as small or large as you want it to be, but make it be something that’s going to make you happy.

Personal goals are also very important. Whether it’s getting into shape, or stopping a harmful habit, know that there are a ton of resources—even on campus—here to help! There’s nothing like group fitness to keep you motivated to coming back to reach your own personal goals. Sometimes, personal goals need to be a little silly. So, if you want to learn how to tie balloon animals to fulfill your semester goal, find someone with that skill so you can start learning it ASAP!

There’s no better time than now to start building your own personal brand! What do I mean by that? You’re eventually going to be a professional, and the best way to help start to shape that brand is by setting your own professional goals. Join an org related directly to your major, create a Linkedin and start connecting to peers and advisors, and most importantly, start paying attention to the things you genuinely like doing. The best way to love your future job is to love what you do. Set a goal to figure out 5-10 things you really enjoy in school, your job, or life in general.


I hope all of this helps everyone start their semester strong and keep it that way! If you ever need any advice about involvement, feel free to e-mail and we’ll be happy to help you with any and all questions! Don’t forget to have some fun!


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