Beginning the semester with your best paw forward


With the new year comes the pressure to change your life and habits, which can feel like a huge weight and add stress rather than cage it. Along with the new year also comes a new semester, a fresh set of classes, and for most, a fresh schedule. Read on for tips from some experienced students.

Read more below

Faith King, a senior, majoring in Social Media Design Management, shares some of her best tips for the beginning of the semester:

  1. Wait to Buy Your Textbooks: Although your textbooks will be posted on MyNMU well before the start of the semester, wait to buy them until a week before classes start. Occasionally, professors will adjust the required materials for their courses. Some materials will be required, and others will be suggested. Contact students who have previously taken the course and ask their opinions on what, how, and where to find your textbooks. It's important to shop around and compare prices. 
  2. Print/Screenshot Your Course Schedule: Even for returning students, the beginning of the semester can be chaos. Review your course schedule to ensure no adjustments/changes have been made since you initially scheduled the course. Printing your weekly schedule and taping it to your bathroom mirror or screenshotting it and saving it as your lock screen are good ways to ensure you remember where you need to be and when. 
  3. Don't Be Afraid to Drop/Add a Course: It's completely okay, and sometimes necessary, to add or drop a course. There is always a window of time at the beginning of the semester during which you can make changes to your schedule without any repercussions. Feeling overwhelmed at the start of the semester is normal, but it's also important to evaluate whether or not the course is right for you at that time. More times than not, there is always room in your academic plan to take a course during another semester. Talk to your academic advisor about these changes, and trust your gut feeling. 
  4. Find Your Classrooms Before the First Day: Even after being a student for a couple of semesters, it is still possible to get lost on campus—especially if you have never had a previous need to enter one of the academic buildings. Take a walking tour of campus, and find where your courses will be held before the semester begins. If you can't find a room, ask someone for directions. At Northern, a smiling face is always willing to show you where to go. 
  5. It's Okay to Feel Like You Don't Know What You're Doing: You will probably feel like you don't know what you're doing for the first week or two of the semester. And that's okay. The first week of the semester is designed to set up the expectations and requirements for your course. Your professor will more than likely go over their syllabus in deep detail. If you're still unsure whether that course is right for you, talk to the professor after class or during their office hours. Imposter syndrome can be a real battle, but don't undermine yourself. 


Garrett Swan, a junior, majoring in management, balances activities, school work, and student organization involvement with the following tips:

  1. Visualize the goal for the end of the semester. This lets me know where I want to be educationally at the end of the semester.
  2. Prepare for the workload I know I’ll have for school, work, and student organizations. Each semester and student is different, but I like to have an idea of how much time I’ll be spending on each thing. 
  3. Find a good place to study. There are good places to study all over campus, so find your favorite one and go there each time you need to study or get work done. 
  4. Plan time for myself each day, even for an hour. Spending time alone and resting is very important for a busy college student. 
  5. Know how to balance activities. Get work done ahead of time to stay on top of your school work but still have time to do things you enjoy.
  6. Discover resources that can help me study. New resources are created all the time and there are lots of helpful ones out there. A prime example is Quizlet. 


Mia Hickey, a senior Public Relations major minoring in Environmental Sciences, has some pro tips that have helped her throughout her college career:

  1. Check EduCat more than usual during the days leading up to the first week of class and throughout the first week. Sometimes class meeting rooms might be changed last minute, or other things will come up. Sometimes I even look in the "participants" section to see if I know anyone in a course. This always helps me feel prepared and eases any nerves. 
  2. Use Google Calendar! I like adding my classes, work hours, and important meetings to Google Calendar before the semester starts. This helps me feel prepared and organized once classes begin. 
  3. Keep the pre-semester scaries from getting to you! I usually feel anxious in the week leading up to the semester. During this week I exercise self-care, keep a steady workout routine, and see friends.


Kate Gunville, a junior, double majoring in Political Science and Communications, gives tips on how to keep yourself going during the semester:

  1. Start assignments early. Getting things done, or at least starting right away, is important to stay on top of your workload, especially if you’re involved in extracurriculars or student organizations.
  2. Find a hobby. Stress is inevitable during the semester, but by finding something you enjoy and making it a habit, you can have something to take your mind off schoolwork. 
  3. Organize your space/supplies. By organizing your things, you’ll likely succeed in better keeping track of your work. Setting up a system for organizing assignment due dates also helps me.


Lewis Goff, is a sophomore, studying Sustainable Business and Enterprise Creation. His tips for the semester are as follows:

  1. Check your schedule on MyNMU. Become familiar with your schedule and where your classes are located on campus. The MyNMU app is helpful if you forget what classroom you’re headed to when on your way to class. 
  2. Check NMU email and EduCat daily. Do this in order to stay on top of notifications about assignments and any announcements that professors make.
  3. Make friends in your classes and form a connection with your professors. If you need help or would like to study in a group, you’ll have connections to do so with.
  4. Put your schedule in Google Calendar. Blocking off time for homework helps me stay organized.
  5. Be prepared with school supplies. It’s always awkward to ask for a pencil, so ensure you have plenty. 
  6. Create and stick to a sleep schedule. Being well-rested is important for making it through your days full of classes.