New Semester = New Beginning!

+ 5 Mistakes from Past School Years and How to Correct Them

NewSemester

Hello, friends!

You know that feeling you get at the end of the year? That feeling where you just think back on all the things you did, you think through which you would change, which you would do the same, which you would just avoid? That feeling at the end of the year of noticing your mistakes and learning from them. Then you have the feeling of the new year. That feeling of a fresh start, of a blank canvas, of a new beginning. Being able to say ‘this is going to be a good year because I have learned and will give it my all’… This is my favorite thing of starting a new school year. Knowing where you can improve and being determined to doing it. So, I am going to share with you how I am preparing for the new semester. I will share the five biggest mistakes I have made in past classes, and the plans to correct them, hopefully this helps you too. 🙂


Mistake 1: Not Using a Planner

You know all those pretty pictures on Pinterest and Tumblr that show beautifully made planners? All those colors, and stickers, and washi tapes, and cute handwriting? I wanted one. I wanted to be able to do that so badly, that I focused on how my planner did not look like those cute ones, and I just gave up. Bad idea! It doesn’t matter if your planner looks pretty or not. A planner is not for decoration, it helps you plan! Of course, keeping it neat and understandable is very important, but the fact that it does not look like other people’s planners doesn’t make it a bad planner, it makes it your unique planner, and that’s what it’s all about. Your planner can be your journal, your diary, your reminder, your everything, but only if you keep up with it. And comparing it to other planners might just make you think it’s not good enough. The key is to find a planner that suits your specific needs. I can’t use a weekly planner because I just have too much stuff going on in one day it would never fit. And the daily ones I find just don’e have enough scheduling hours. I have been making my own planners for 3 semesters by now. I actually have to admit I am very proud of the planner I will be using this semester. Proud to say I made it myself, from the printing to the binding (the lighting tho, sorry, it was a rainy day with not much sunlight…)

Can be a mistake because: You may not be able to keep up with all the dates of all your different classes. Or you might keep up with class dates, but not those in your personal life. I have missed an assignment or two by not updating my planner accordingly 😦
Can be corrected by: Having a set time to go through your planner and map out your day/week/month. I have chosen to do this 15 minutes before going to bed. I write out the next day’s to-do list and map it out on my scheduling area. I get to sleep comfortably because I am not stressed about the next day, and when I wake up I know exactly what I need to do.

Mistake 2: Not Using My Syllabi

Believe me when I tell you, Professors don’t like reminding you of what is coming up. They have put in the time and effort of making a general schedule for the semester, sometimes including what chapters to be covered, at least glance at it.. xD My freshman year, I received my syllabi and stashed them away in my backpack thinking it was just like High School. I thought ‘the Professor is not even going to follow this, and they will just remind us they are assigning homework or a test is coming’. It really took me by surprise when I received zeros in three assignments because I had no clue they were assigned. You see, a syllabus is a go-to for just about anything. How does this assignment weight in on the final grade? It’s on the syllabus. How many assignments are we going to have? It’s on the syllabus. How much is each test worth? It’s on the syllabus. What sections does this test cover? It’s on the syllabus. When is this assignment due? It’s on the syllabus. Will we have reviews for the test? It’s on the syllabus. Where is the professor’s office? It’s on the syllabus. What is the professor’s e-mail? It’s on the syllabus… Everything is on the syllabus! So before you ask your professor anything, make sure you check your syllabus, because if it is there and you ask, they might just tell you to check the syllabus. Not only is the Professor bugged by every time a student asks something that is clearly on the syllabus, but Professors expect you to be on top of this. They don’t care if you turn in an assignment or not, they won’t bug you time and time again that this assignment is late, but when you receive a zero, it is not their responsibility to help you out. They gave that paper to you as a resource, use it.

Can be a mistake because: Everything is there. If you do not keep track of your assignments and tests, you have no chance of passing the class. What better way to ensure this than to never miss a date?
Can be corrected by: Using your syllabi periodically, always having a copy accessible, and updating it in your planner (you see? the planner does come in handy!) What I am going to be doing this semester is printing out a copy of each of my syllabi and using it as a course note separator. This way every time I open my notes I can see what is coming up the following week. Also, as soon as the syllabi are handed, I will copy every date (assignments / tests / quiz / readings / etc.) on to my planner so that I can map out my days accordingly (in those 15 minutes before bed).

Mistake 3: Not Turning In ‘Little’ Assignments

In your classes, each Professor decides how much importance each assignment / test / quiz / reading has. They can sometimes use a point system, or a percentage system, it depends on their preference. Having said this, it is very common to see a test that is worth 75%, and an assignment that is worth 5%. One of the biggest mistakes I made was not turning in those tiny little 5% assignments. You see, these are usually there either for practice, or as grade boosters. When they are for practice, they will usually contains questions similar to the tests. This is very valuable! The Professor is basically giving a heads up as to how the test is going to be made, and receiving feedback on your work is the best way to improve. If they are there as grade boosters, why not take advantage of them? Sometimes your test grade is just shy of an A. This tiny little 5% assignment is here to save your day! Trust me, it doesn’t matter how small, easy, or unhelpful an assignment seems, it is always worth it to turn them in. I know, sometimes everything else seems to get in the way and this assignment does not fall in the same priority list as studying for that super hard test, but that’s not all the time, is it? 🙂

Can be a mistake because: Even if they are worth very little, those extra 3 points can always bump your grade up from a B to an A. Not only this, but zeros are really good at bringing down averages! Besides, Professors are more likely to help you when they see a hard-working student, and it is always good to have a Professor on your side.
Can be corrected by: Not thinking these assignments as unimportant. Get them done as soon as they are assigned, or as soon as you cover the specific topic. Not only will this get you amped-up and get you started on getting your homework done, but when study time comes, you have a good review (hopefully with feedback and corrections) and always a couple extra good points.

Mistake 4: Skipping Class

I don’t think I have to go on and on about why skipping class is a bad idea. But I will give you a few pointers. First of all, you don’t miss out on material. You get to have the professor and ask questions, you get to see the explanations and the back-and-forth between professor-student with complicated topics. You are there for it, so you can learn from it! Secondly, sometimes, professors give you hints on what material is more important than others, and you don’t get that by just reading from a book or studying with a friend. Sometimes professors even give you straight up test answers! I have seen many times a professor saying ‘this is going to be on the Test, and your answer should be the closest one to [insert explanation here]’. Thirdly, attendance! Many professors give you extra points just for showing up! I mean, do I really have to go into this more? Just, show up for the bonus. 😉 And fourth, you get to make pretty and consistent notes! :3 If nothing else motivates me, just having a good set of notes with colors and fancy hand writing gets me up and running! More than once I have had zero willingness to go to a class, then I think about how I am not going to get nice notes for the day and you see me out the door in no time. xD

Can be a mistake because: You are missing out! You don’t get the material, you don’t get the possible test hints, you don’t get the nice notes, you don’t get the professor’s explanations! I mean, you are paying for this, you should use it.
Can be corrected by: Literally, showing up. Getting out of bed and showing up. You have no clue how much you can accomplish just by making Act of Appearance. Maybe just seeing some random dude walking into a post and laughing your head off. I mean, might be worth it? x3

Mistake 5: Not Having a Class Buddy

Once Upon a Time, my friend’s dad gave me this piece of advice

You do not go to school for anything other than studying. You are not there to make friends, not there to like boys, not there to criticize teachers, you are there to learn!

Mind you, I followed this for a long time. I would not talk to people, barely even talked to the teachers. I just showed up, payed attention, then went home, did my homework and studied some, then to sleep. This was me for the longest time. It sucked. I needed help. Every one needs help. So get that help. Once I accepted this, I always made sure to make at least one friend in each class. This is one of the most helpful things you can have. Have an essay you don’t know what to do with? Bounce ideas off your buddy. Stuck on a math problem? Ask what your next step should be. Don’t understand a science term? Make mnemonics with your buddy! Note that I am definitely not telling you to copy off your buddy or anything like that. Just make sure you have some sort of support system where you can count on somebody to have your back. Studying with a friend, either teaching the subject to your buddy or giving feedback on your their explanations to you is one of the most engaging ways to learn. If you play the teacher, you have to master the topic well enough to be able to explain it. If you play the listener, you have to master the topic well enough to be able to notice where your buddy’s understanding may be limited, and then help them out. It’s just a win-win!

Can be a mistake because: You have to go it alone. Classes, specially at this level, may sometimes be tough. Not having a class buddy might mean your question doesn’t get answered in time to submit the assignment, you are unsure if your answer is correct, or simply, you can’t remember if the professor said next class was cancelled, or it was the following one… and that’s something you are very interested in knowing! 😉
Can be corrected by: Saying hi. I will usually sit in the front rows (as that is where the most learning happens), find a friend who is nearby (because this person is more likely to have the same priorities as I do), and say hi. Once you say hi, the rest follows. 🙂


You see my friends, this is what I have been thinking these past couple days. I am determined to make this coming semester the best one yet, and to not stop there.

If you guys have seen Atlantis: The Lost Empire, you will recognize the words of “A fellow by the Name Thaddeus Thatch:

When you hit bottom, the only place left to go is up.

So friends, let’s all go up in this new Semester and those to come.

How do you get ready for the new semester? I want to hear all about it!

-Yesenia

 

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3 thoughts on “New Semester = New Beginning!

  1. Rebecca Lindenbach says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. This is so important–the ability to learn from your mistakes and share your experiences with others is such a great way to help others going through the same thing 🙂 Props to you for speaking so openly about this, I just know this can help tons of other college students out there!

    Great job, Yesenia!

    Rebecca Lindenbach | Life as a Dare

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pawsinglife says:

    Thank you Rebecca! :3 It’s so nice to hear back from someone, specially when there is so much positivity! :3 Thank you for the kind words! ❤
    You know, in Mexico we have a saying that roughly translates to "nobody experiments in another's head," meaning that usually people learn through their own actions, not by other's experiences. But I truly believe that even if this is true, just knowing about how other people handle the same mistake you might be making can be a real source of encouragement and support. 🙂 It's great to hear you think this can be helpful as well.

    Like

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