Oh, how fast the summer flew by! Can you believe it’s already that time again?! School is literally right around the corner (Two days from the time that I’m writing this!) and it seems like there is still so much left to do! If you’re starting school like me, then there are a few things you need to do to prepare for the new semester!
But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I’ve made a super detailed list of what you need to do to start your semester off right and prepare for success.
No time to waste, Let’s get into it!
First, figure out what your schedule will be.
The first thing you should do to prepare for a new semester is to figure out what your schedule’s going to look like! As the saying goes “If you fail to plan, plan to fail!” It’s crucial to know what’s on your plate so you can plan ahead for success.
- First, print out my weekly time chart planner.
- Then, use it to time block your class schedule.
- Plan your study time. (It’s best to set aside a specific time each day to study and do homework. This will help you build a good study routine! It also prevents you from being too busy to get your work done.)
- If you plan to work during the semester, add that to your schedule too. Make sure your job availability is updated and that your employer knows about any upcoming changes.
- Fill in as much detailed information as you can! Anything you want to get done, schedule it!
Below is a picture of my actual schedule from my first semester. Notice all of the things I included on my schedule. I tried to be specific while also leaving room for some flexibility.
- Wake up and sleep goals.
- Time (EVERY DAY) set aside for studying and school work.
- Class and clinical times.
- My work schedule.
- Gym routine.
- Time set aside for personal goals, chores, and fun.
- Open blocks for whatever else (self-care, family time, errands, naps, a hobby).
Try to avoid having your schedule 100% full. Life happens and last-minute things may come up. You want to have a little flexibility if you can!
And to be honest, sometimes you deserve an extra nap or a moment to be lazy and do nothing! Your schedule should help you to be more productive, not wear you out from how busy you are!
Look over your syllabus and class calendar.
Always make sure to read through the syllabus for each class. It’s your guide to everything you need to know for the coming semester! You’ll find things such as the grading breakdown, rules and expectations, required books for the class, and learning goals.
- Highlight anything important.
- Take note of due dates and projects.
- Make a list of any supplies, books, or materials needed.
And don’t forget to look over the calendar while you’re at it! I recommend printing it to put in your binder or hang on your wall. Make special note of school holidays, test days, and due dates.
Prepare your planner for the new semester.
Now it’s time to take all of that great information from steps 1 and 2 and mark it in your planner! The more that you can fill out, the better! The goal is to give yourself the most accurate view of how busy you’ll be and what you need to plan ahead for. Being organized in nursing school is KEY to your success!
So think about what’s going to be coming up:
- Birthdays and events.
- Dates to remember, holidays.
- Exams, due dates, etc.
- Plans with friends and family.
Have your textbooks and supplies ready!
Do your best to have all of your school supplies ready to go! It’s best to prepare for the new semester as much as you can at least one week before school. Please, for your own sake, don’t wait until the last minute!
For instance, you should aim to have all of your shopping done before the first day of school. Make sure you have any supplies you need, such as:
- Pens, highlighters, pencils.
- Notebooks, looseleaf, printer paper.
- Printer ink, sticky notes, flash cards.
- Paperclips, binder clips, tacks, 3-hole punch.
- Binders, dividers, uniform (clean), calculator.
- Textbooks, pocket drug guide.
Prepare your binders for the new semester.
If you want more tips on how to set up your binder and keep your notes organized, you can read my blog post where I go into full details of exactly how I do that! But if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, here’s a short version of some of the things I advise doing to set up your binders.
- Use a label maker to label the spine of your binders with class subject.
- Then print out one of my binder covers to label the front and add some style!
- Print the syllabus and semester calendar for each class.
- Print any other important papers.
- Then insert your dividers. (If you haven’t tried them, I really like the A-Z dividers because they come with a table of contents. So perfect for quickly searching your notes!)
- Finally, add some loose-leaf paper for taking notes.
Set up your study space.
Since your study space is where you’ll be spending a big chunk of your time during nursing, you want to make sure not to leave this one out!
Qualities of a good study space:
- Most importantly, a quiet area with limited distractions!
- Has good lighting (Plus some nice candles for a calm, relaxing vibe.)
- Stocked with supplies.
- Dry erase board for studying and drawing things out.
- Also has a bulletin board to pin your schedule to, along with motivational quotes and your goals for the semester to keep you going!
- And don’t forget to add your calendar!
Organize your life.
Without a doubt, this new semester of nursing will keep you very busy! So that means the time you’ll have to take care of things other than school is going to be limited.
Ask yourself if there is anything you can complete now that will save you time and stress when you’re busy during the semester. For example, shopping for a birthday or Christmas present, finish booking your holiday vacation, making appointments, etc.)
Other ideas to consider:
- Clean your house.
- Get your chores done.
- Automate your bills and payments.
Grocery shop, Meal prep.
Stock up on some quick and easy meals or snacks before the semester starts! There will be some long days during clinical and you may not always have time to go to the cafeteria. Shop for some foods that you can take with you to class and on the go!
Some ideas for your grocery list:
- Lots and lots of coffee!
- Your favorite snacks. (Granola bars are my go to.)
- Protein shakes.
- Healthy brain food, such as fruits and veggies.
- Freezer meals (try to limit these if you can opt for fresh or less processed food instead. However, they’re always good to have for when life gets busy!)
Get into a routine.
Start adjusting to your routine at least a week before school starts. Get into the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. (Need help? Read: HOW TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR SCHOOL: 10 EXPERT TIPS)
Stick to the schedule you created in step one of this post and work out any flaws during the week before school starts. Use your scheduled study time to do the last step, which is….
Review your nursing skills.
If this is your first semester of nursing, you should brush up on basic anatomy and physiology. The Crash Course series is an excellent and fun way to do this!
Review lab values, electrolytes, and acid-base balance.
And for your second semester and beyond → review previous nursing skills, ESPECIALLY if you have had the summer break to forget a lot of what you’ve learned… Skills will NOT be retaught and you WILL be expected to know them once you’ve passed your check-offs.
- Brush up on head-to-toe assessments with your family or a friend.
- Feel free to glance over topics you’ll be learning in the coming semester (although you don’t have to.)
- Have a quick review of medications, side effects, and calculations.
Obviously, there’s a lot to do to prepare for a new semester of school! So start early and cross things off your checklist as you do them!
Lastly, go into each new semester with a positive mindset and a good attitude. You can do this!