Nine Hacks to Conquer the Second Semester of College

You aced the first semester of the school year—huzzah! But winter break is over, and now it’s back to the books. We’ve got some tips to help you avoid burnout and bring the same spirit and determination into round two.

For Starting Off on the Right Foot

  • Rent or Buy Used Textbooks - "I'm going to save my college algebra book and read it for fun later," said No One Ever. Why spend a fortune on textbooks when there are affordable rental sites like Chegg? Or, if you really want to save big this round, ask your professor if you can get away with using the older edition of a textbook.
  • Use Syllabus Week to Plan Ahead - Ah, syllabus week. The time of the semester when homework is light and lectures are spent easing into the materials. Use this transition period to get ahead of the curve. Make a plan that shows your milestones and how much time you'll need to complete each paper and project.
  • Set Your Class Schedule as Your Phone Lock Screen - When learning your class schedule and adapting to your new route on campus, set your schedule as the lock screen on your phone. That way, it's just a glance downward if you need to check that you're headed to the right place, at the right time.  

For Better Learning and Study Habits

  • Block Online Distractions - Social media can distract from your learning and kill your attention span. Software apps like Cold Turkey and Anti-Social temporarily block sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, but still allow you to surf web pages related to school work.
  • Quizlet Not only can you make your own flashcards on Quizlet, you can view the flashcards other people studying the same subject have already made. Study the flashcards online or print them.
  • The Pomodoro Method - If you want to beat procrastination and burnout, give this technique a try. It works by getting you to work in 25-minute sessions. One Pomodoro is 25 minutes of uninterrupted study time. For every Pomodoro, take a five-minute break. Once you've completed four Pomodoros, take a 20 to 30-minute break.
  • Effective Note Taking -  Not only does taking notes focus your attention during a lecture, it can also make you an active learner—the key is picking a method that's effective for you. Or, it can be a combination of methods.

For College and Beyond

  • How to Adult - While you could wait until the weekend to bring home your dirty laundry for mom to wash, you can also take another step towards independence and learn how to do it yourself. For tips on how to do grown up stuff, watch How to Adult, an edutainment web series on YouTube. The series covers a variety of helpful topics from how student loans work to making tough life decisions.
  • Explore and Find Lifelong Interests - The first semester can be a challenge. But now that you’re 5 months wiser with a grip on the basics of college living, it’s time to explore what's on campus and find your interests... like the philanthropy club you didn’t think you’d have time for last term.