By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.
This blog post teaches you 10 tips for completing a semester in college. I suggest you review the list below each time you complete a college semester. For most students, this would be twice a year: once before winter break and once before summer break.
How to complete a semester in college – the right way
The following 10 tips will help you organize your last semester, prepare for the next semester, and assess your status to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
1. Turn in all homework.
It’s obvious. If you’re willing to finish a college semester, you can’t have any outstanding assignments. Better late than never, and so if you’re wondering if it’s worth turning in that essay that’s already late, turn it.
As your semester draws to a close and you feel overwhelmed with completing classwork and homework overdue, use my 2:1 ratio strategy…. Working on two missions in progress, then one overdue. Repeat. (I found this ratio after nearly 17 years of teaching – it works.)
2. Extract all courses from the LMS and save them to your own computer.
College courses are expensive, and you pay for all the material your professor shares through your learning management system (LMS). Therefore, you should be able to keep these resources for good. Before the end of the semester, be sure to download and save PDFs, slides, papers, etc. on your computer.
3. Organize your digital files and place them in a folder.
When you finish a semester in college, you should move all of your class files into a digital folder. Name the folder the same as your course name. Inside the folder, place all of your course materials downloaded from tip #2 above, as well as all of your own course-related files (essays, labs, etc.).
4. Clean up your downloads folder and your desktop.
The end of a semester is a good time to empty the two main junk collectors on your device: your digital office and your downloads folder. Go through all the files in your downloads folder and move them to the right place or delete them. Use the same process for your desktop.
5. Sell your books.
University textbooks are very expensive. Unless you think you will really need this manual in the future (very unlikely), sell it and get some money. You have a few different options when selling your college books. First, try your college bookstore; sometimes they’ll buy the books back or let you trade in the old book for a book you’ll need next semester. Or, you can try something like BookScouter (I heard it was great but never used them personally). A third option would be to sell your book on Amazon.
6. Evaluate your courses and the path you are on.
After the first year, most of your college courses will be determined by the major and minor you have chosen. At the end of a semester, you want to assess whether you think you are still on the right track. In other words, if you hated all of your science classes this semester, does it still make sense to be a biology major? If you struggled in all of your economics and marketing classes, do you still want to major in business? These are questions to ask. If you haven’t chosen your major or minor yet, start here.
7. Check with your GPA.
Your GPA doesn’t always tell the whole story, but it’s a good indicator of how things are really going. The end of a college semester is a good time to check in with your GPA and assess if that’s where it needs to be. Someday in the distant future, your college GPA won’t matter much, but it will matter when you graduate from college and apply for your first job. One funky semester won’t ruin your GPA, but two funky semesters in a row could do some damage.
8. Prepare for the next semester.
Woohoo! You’ve completed a college semester! Take 10 seconds to celebrate, then start preparing for the next one. I laugh. Somehow.
When you finish a semester, especially the first semester of the year (ending in December for most students), take a look at what you have coming up for the spring semester. What courses will you take? What will your schedule look like? Which days are going to be heavy class days and which will be lighter? What books will you need? (Catch them.)
Students should definitely plan their schedules and time using Google Calendar. Here is my complete Google Calendar tutorial for students.
9. Evaluate your study habits.
Completing a semester at college involves more than turning in your final assignment and archiving your course in your LMS. A good close involves evaluating how you’ve handled the recent semester so you can either continue with what’s working or drop what’s not working for the next semester. Were you stressed? Did you procrastinate too much? Could you have managed your time better? What were your study habits?
here is my Complete the Student Self-Assessment Tutorial which walks you through all the areas and questions you should be asking yourself at the end of each academic semester. You can also use my Free self-assessment quiz for students (that’s pretty awesome – hehe) to identify exactly what areas you need to work on.
10. Thank your teachers.
Gratitude is magical, and it’s always a good time to express it. Even if you didn’t like your teacher, thank them for their time and effort during the semester. You can do this in person, or a short email also works.
Here’s a simple email script you can use to thank your teachers:
Dear teacher ______,
I would like to express my gratitude for your support this semester in __________ (course name). I learned so much from your instructions and really enjoyed our time together in class. I wish you a relaxing break!
Thanks again for everything.
__________ (your name)
Now that you know how to complete a semester in college, I want you to keep this list handy so you can use it after all your upcoming semesters. Just doing these 10 simple efforts will go a long way in keeping you organized now and in the future.