How to Prepare for A New Semester


The Division of Student Affairs wants to ensure that all Bison start the 2021-2022 academic year on the right foot. Whether you are a new or returning student, we encourage you to read and follow the below tips to avoid preparing for a new semester right before it starts.

Typically, last-minute preparations cause stress, prevent a smooth transition from Summer to Fall, and negatively affect academic performance. Starting now will allow you to enjoy the rest of your summer and transition into "school mode" smoothly.

1. Get Organized Early

We've all heard of the importance of getting organized, but what does that entail? In summary, you want to tie up any loose ends that will prevent you from focusing on academics and extracurricular activities. Here are a few things you should consider completing:

Review Your Syllabi: If your professors email their syllabus to you before classes start, review it and familiarize yourself with the topics the class will cover and the assignments you must complete. Consider placing due dates for assignments and tests into a planner or digital calendar so that you won't forget about them. But please note that your professors may change due dates for assignments. If they do, you will need to update the information.

Budget Your Money: How much are your books for the upcoming semester? If you are living in an off-campus apartment, how much will it cost to travel to campus? How much do you typically spend on groceries? Asking these and several other questions will help you balance your budget and know what your expenses are.

Rent and Purchase Your Books: This is huge. If you order your books right before class, you may not receive them in time for your class. That could result in you having to catch up on readings or missing an assignment that you need the book to complete. Skip the stress, and be sure to get your books early.

Know Your Resources: Do you know where to go to seek academic help? Complete business within the Division of Student Affairs? If not, we heavily recommend writing down where to seek assistance for anything you may need through the semester. The Office of Undergraduate Studies and our Resource Finder are great starts to your list. 


2. Clean Your Space

There are countless benefits for having a clean space, the first being its contribution to organization. If you walk into a room with piles of clothes, items, and paper in improper places, you could increase your changes of losing or misplacing what you need for class. This causes stress, which is last thing you need to perform well academically.

Additionally, this article brings up a great point. Your room is the place where you start and end your day. Waking up to a cluttered, unorganized room can have an effect on your mood, your day, and your ability to tackle tasks and issues that come your way. Cleaning you room, therefore, can reduce your stress, improve your mental clarity, and remove unwanted dust and bacteria that cause illness.


3. Prioritize Your Mental and Physical Health

This is an important piece of advice that our Division wants all Bison to follow because there are a lot of moving parts related to preparing and tackling a new semester.

It is easy to be wrapped in the details of prep that you forget to take breaks, get sleep, do something that makes you happy, and express gratitude for the ability to pursue a degree when other can’t. Forgetting to care for yourself can also be easy to forget when you have a number of homework assignments, tests, projects and tasks for extracurricular activities due around the same time.

It is paramount for all Bison to ensure that stress is understood and managed properly. While your body can handle some stress, the effects of constant stress can be detrimental long term.

For tips and resources regarding the ways Howard continues to provide mental health assistance to our community, read this article from President Frederick. It includes helpful apps you can download, contacting University Counseling Services, and more. We also encourage you to exercise and eat a well-balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables and water. A healthy diet has been proven to assist in positively effecting mental health and clarity.


4. Create A Daily Routine

During the summer months, students may not have a structured schedule. You may wake up when you want to, sleep when you want to, and do what you want to at all times of the day. It is recommended to start structuring your days similar to the academic year sooner rather than later. Start going to bed at a decent time and reading a good book or learning something new during the times you would be in class or studying. This will help your body get in the right rhythm.


5. Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic short and long-term goals is important for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, they help you identify what you want to accomplish, when, and what you need to do to get there. And if you reach those goals, you will feel a sense of pride.

If you review your goals and notice that you did not accomplish them in the timeframe you expected, do not feel discouraged. Life may throw unexpected events your way that you did not expect. The best thing to do is refocus yourself and get back on track with new, realistic deadlines. We are stressing the importance of setting realistic goals because setting goals that are not feasible to reach will cause discouragement.


6. Get Involved On Campus

We've all heard of the importance of work-life balance, but this saying also apply to college students. Though academics are the primary reason students should attend college, extracurricular activities are essential in building relationships, preventing burn out and reducing the stress associated with performing well in courses. Be sure to contact our Office of Student Life and Activities to discover ways to get involved on campus. You can also learn more about activities here


7. Understand the Metro

Let's face it. Spending $10+ on ride-sharing services is not the cheapest, most cost-effective way to get around the Washington metropolitan area. It is beneficial, therefore, to know how to use public transportation. We encourage all Bison to visit WMATA's website to view information on transportation types, schedules, fares, and much more.

We look forward to welcoming students back to campus for the Fall 2021 semester! If you have any tips that you think we should add to this list, please email us at


Written By: Strategic Communications Manager Melissa Simmons


Division of Student Affairs and Wellness