Preparing for a New Class

I just found out that I’m only ten classes away from graduating with my bachelor’s degree from Boston University. It’s been a rocky road, but I’m farther along than I thought I was, which is pretty exciting. I just finished up a class last week, and I’m starting my new one tomorrow. I wanted to share the things that I always do to prepare for my new classes because these preparations are what make me successful throughout each class.

1. Make sure I have the supplies I need.

The first thing I always do is make sure that I have the things that are required for class, or that I enjoy having for class. First and foremost is any required reading. I do anything I can to save money on my required reading because the price of textbooks is outrageous. Sometimes my required reading is easy enough to get at Half Priced Books (ex: I need Jane Eyre for the class I start tomorrow). For actual textbooks, I always use Amazon because you can rent textbooks for SO. MUCH. CHEAPER. Not only can you rent physical books, but you can also rent eBooks that you can read on the free Kindle app.

My other necessity (besides my planner – we’ll get to this) is a Moleskine Extra Large Cahier Notebook. I’ve been able to find a set of six of these at Costco a couple of times, but I usually get them on Amazon. These are my FAVORITE notebooks to take notes in. I have one with me during every lecture, and I reference back to it while studying or doing open book/note tests.

2. Read the syllabus thoroughly.

I don’t think the professor’s lie when they say the syllabus has all of the information you need. I read the syllabus all the way through at least twice before I do anything else for the class. This allows me to be completely aware of class expectations, due dates, and the general time commitment I’ll need to make. Almost every class I’ve taken with BU has had consistent due dates (ex: my discussion is due every Thursday) but the actual day of the week changes for each class, so I always make sure I know what day of the week each thing is due. I also make sure I read the Final Project description a few times so I can keep it in mind while going through the rest of the class. Having it in mind throughout the entire class makes me feel much more prepared for it when it comes time to start it. Finally, I pay extra close attention to how each thing is weighted for my final grade. If the Final Project is worth 50% of my final grade, that’s something I want to know ahead of time. If quizzes are only worth 10% of my final grade, I won’t stress about studying for them quite as much as if they’re worth 40% of my final grade.

3. Set up my planner.

I make sure that I always have a planner for school. My favorite is The Happy Planner because they’re SO cute and functional. You can find them online on Amazon, or in store at Staples or Michael’s. At the start of each month is a page dedicated to birthdays, important dates, notes, and a “currently” list. The “currently” list includes things like what you’re reading, what you’re watching, what you’re celebrating, and more. I love that this planner has a monthly and weekly view, because I like to see a big picture overview and have a place to add in more detail. Once I go through my syllabus, I go through and add in all of my deadlines and due dates onto the monthly view of my planner. Then I go through and add in details for each deadline and due date in the weekly view. I put check boxes before each thing so I can track my progress as the class goes along. This is mostly an accountability thing for me… If a check box isn’t marked off, it means I didn’t turn something in or complete something on time. This is the main way I make sure I stay on top of my lectures, assignments, and tests.

4. Schedule time in our shared family calendar.

I’m sure this probably seems redundant but I also add in my deadlines and due dates into our shared family calendar. This is how I make sure that my husband and my mom know when I have to take time for schoolwork. Usually they’ll give me some extra kid-free time to study, complete discussions, or complete a test. It’s basically the way I make sure I have some extra support when I need it, and then I also get reminders on my phone for when things are due (this is important because I often forget what day of the week it is).

These are the ways that I always prepare for a new class, and they usually help me get through the class alive (and with a passing grade). Do you prepare for a new class in a particular way? Let me know what it is and why it works for you!

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